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|Someone Stole My Credit or Identity||
Last updated: February 2008
Financial identity theft is a crime that occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to:Spend your moneyGet credit in your name Take out loans in your name They may use your credit card, cash a check made out to you or from your checking account, or get a credit card or loan in your name.Without stealing your wallet, someone can steal your financial identity with as little information as your social security number. Click on words that appear like 'this' to learn what these words mean.What kind of information is used in identity theft? People who commit financial identity theft may use your Social Security number, driver's license number, state identification number, credit report, credit card numbers, and other private personal information to commit financial identity theft.How can a person get personal information about me? One of the most common ways for a criminal to get personal information about you is by stealing a "preapproved" credit card offer sent to you in the mail and then opening an account in your name. If you think this may have happened, or if you think any other mail was stolen, call the United States Postal Inspector at 877-876-2455 and report the crime. Also call and send a letter to the credit card company or bank where the person opened an account in your name. Go to the "Forms/Letters" section to get a letter that you can send.What should I do if I think someone has stolen my identity? The first thing you should do is report the crime to the local police department. After filing a report with the local police, you will need contact a number of other people and businesses, including:Secret Service – If the crime involved a lot of money, the Secret Service may prosecute.Credit card companies and other creditors - They will be able to spot fraudlent charges.Banks - They should have a fraud department you can speak to.Credit reporting agencies - They can add a victim's statement to your credit report.Secretary of State - Contact them if the identity theft involves your driver's license, traffic or parking tickets, or car title.Social Security Administration - Contact them if your identity theft involved your social security number.U.S. Passport Agency - Even if you do not have a passport or your passport was not stolen, you should contact them.Homeowners or other insurance agencies - They might cover losses from identity theft.Employer - This is especially important if your employer runs background checks or credit checks on employees.For more information on when and how to contact these parties, see the Instructions tab of this guide.What if someone uses my name while committing a crime? If someone commits a crime in your name you could end up with a criminal record. The process for clearing a criminal record is different from the process explained in this guide for dealing with financial identity theft. Go to the "Related Articles" section to get information on criminal identity theft.Are there any things I should not do? Don't give in. Do not pay any bill or part of a bill that is the result of identity theft. Do not cover any checks that were written or cashed as a result of the identity theft. Do not file bankruptcy. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected as a result of the identity theft.Also, no legal action should be taken against you. If any store, company, credit card company, collection agency, bank, or anyone else suggests they will take legal action against you, explain the situation and report it to the Illinois Attorney General at (866) 999-5630. Do not let yourself be forced or tricked into paying the bills.If Your Mail was Stolen and an Account was Opened in Your Name First, report the crime to the United States Postal Inspector at (877) 876-2455. Then, call the credit card company or bank where the fraudulent account was opened.Go to the "Forms/Letters" section to get a letter you can send to the credit card company or bank where the fraudulent account was opened.Report the Crime to Your Local Police Department Report the theft to your local police department. If the officer you speak to does not want to file a written report, be polite but insist that a report be written. Tell them that you know identity theft is a crime under Illinois law. If the officer still will not file a report ask to speak to their boss.Once the police write a report, ask for a copy of it.Report the Crime to the Secret Service After you report the crime to your local police office, you should also report it to the United States Secret Service, especially if it involved a lot of money. The Secret Service prosecutes criminals who break the federal identity theft and other financial fraud laws. Unfortunately, they do not have the resources to follow through on all cases and usually will only go after criminals who steal large amounts of money or who are part of an organized identity theft ring. To reach the Chicago office of the Secret Service call (312) 353-5431, and to reach the Springfield office call (217) 726-8453.Contact Companies that Have Your Personal or Financial Information For each telephone call you make, write a letter to the company or agency and insist that they send a letter to you summarizing the conversation. Also keep a copy of every letter you send and receive.You should send all letters by certified mail with a return receipt (the green postcard) so you have proof the letter was received, and keep records of your conversations, including the dates and times of the calls and the names of the people you talk to about your identity theft.Use the form "Reporting Record for Identity Theft: Chart Your Course of Action" in the "Forms/Letters" section to keep track of the steps you've taken to report your identity theft.The companies that you should contact are listed in detail in the following steps.Contact Your Credit Card Companies and Creditors Tell your credit card companies and creditors that you are the victim of identity theft and ask them to note this in your file. Go over all recent activity in your account with them to see if there is any illegal activity. Then, ask them to give you new cards with new card numbers.Contact Your Banks Call every bank where you have an account and ask to speak with the fraud department or an officer of the bank. Go over recent activity in your account to make sure it was all done or approved by you.If you have an ATM card, cancel it and ask for a new one. You may be asked to close your account and open a new one with a different number.Contact all 3 Credit Reporting Agencies You must call all 3 credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and ask that your credit file be flagged with a fraud alert. Tell them to add a victim's statement to your report that says: "My ID has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at [your phone number] to approve all applications."Ask them to send you a free copy of your credit report and confirm in writing that the fraud alert and victim's statement have been placed in your file. After you call all 3 agencies, write them letters to confirm your conversations.Go to the "Forms/Letters" section to send a letter to the credit reporting agencies. Go to the "Related Articles" section to find addresses of the credit reporting agencies.Notify Your Employer of Your Identity Theft Tell your employer about your identity theft, especially if you work for a company that may do background checks on you, such as a bank or government agency.If the Identity Theft Involves Your Driver's License, Traffic or Parking Tickets or Car Title Call the Secretary of State Police at (217) 782-7126. They investigate crimes related to the title of your car, your driver's license, parking tickets and traffic tickets. Because they handle such limited cases, they often will investigate matters other police do not have time for.If Someone Used Your Social Security Number Call the local Social Security Administration office at (312) 575-4000 or (800) 772-1213. Make a report and ask if you qualify for a new Social Security number. Ask for a copy of your "personal earnings statement" so you can review it to see if it is correct.Report the Identity Theft to the U.S. Passport Agency Even if your passport was not stolen, you should report identity theft to the U.S. Passport Agency at (312) 341-6020. Even if you do not have a passport, you should report identity theft to the U.S. Passport Agency to stop someone else from applying for a passport in your name.Check the Mail for Bills that You Don't Recognize If you receive a bill you don't recognize, call the creditor right away. Tell them you are the victim of identity theft and that the charges or loan were not approved by you.Offer to send them a copy of the police report, and then send them a letter confirming your phone conversation with them. You can get a letter to send in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide.The company may ask you to fill out a "fraud affidavit" stating that you did not approve of the charges. If so, follow their instructions.Finally, demand that the creditor give you a written statement which states that you are not responsible for the charges that the criminal made to an account or a loan taken out by the criminal.Do Not Make Payments that Result from Your Identity Theft Do not pay any bill or part of a bill that is the result of identity theft.Do not cover any checks that were written and/or cashed as a result of identity theft.Do not file for bankruptcy.If anyone suggests they will take legal action against you, restate your willingness to cooperate and report this to the Illinois Attorney General at (866) 999-5630. Do not allow yourself to be forced or tricked into paying the bills.See if Your Insurance Company Covers Identity Theft Loses If you have homeowner's or renter's insurance, call your insurance company to see if your policy covers fraud or identity theft. Then notify the company in writing of your identity theft.Go to the "Forms/Letters" section to send a letter to your insurance company.
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