1. Report the crime to the police
Go to your local police station report the identity theft. Ask the police officer to fill out a police report. Save a copy of the police report as proof of the crime. The report is important to give to companies and government offices to prove the identity theft. If the police did not give you a report, write down the name of the officer(s) you spoke with, the time and date of the conversation and the address of the precinct or station. Keep this note for your records.
2. Contact companies and government agencies
After filing a report with the local police, you will need to contact your bank, creditors, government agencies and other businesses:
- Banks: Most banks have fraud departments. You can find the phone number for your bank’s fraud department on your bank’s website, bank statements or the back of your debit cards. Call the bank and ask them to cancel the fraudulent charges from your account, cancel your current debit card, and give you a new card.
- Credit card companies and other creditors: Call your credit card company and other creditors to tell them that you are the victim of identity theft. You can find the phone number for your creditors on your credit card company’s website, credit card statements or the back of your credit cards. Ask the creditor to note the identity theft in your file and to review all recent activity on your account to spot when and where the unauthorized charges were made. Then, ask the creditor to cancel the unauthorized charges from your account, cancel your current credit card, and give you a new card.
- Credit reporting agencies: Contact at least one of the three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to ask that a fraud alert is placed on your name and social security number. Also, ask them to add a victim’s statement to your file which asks all creditors to contact you before any new account is opened under your name or anyone tries to change your existing accounts. Once the fraud alert and victim’s statement are placed in your account, it will be more difficult for anyone to open or change accounts under your name.
- Employer: Alert your current and prospective employers of the identity theft. It may come up if the employer runs a background check or credit check.
- Illinois Secretary of State: If the identity theft involves your driver’s license, traffic or parking tickets, car title or a business registered under your name in Illinois, you should alert the Illinois Secretary of State. More information on how to contact them is on the website. The Illinois Secretary of State can also check if a new driver’s license under your name has been issued. If so, ask for your driver’s license number to be changed and for a new driver’s license.
- Insurance companies: Contact your insurance company. Tell them about the identity theft and ask if your policy covers loss and damage due to identity theft.
- Internal Revenue Service: If your Social Security number is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft; the IRS recommends these additional steps:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided;
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your e-filed return rejects because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or you are instructed to do so. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail according to instructions;
- If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact them for specialized assistance at (800) 908-4490. Note: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. If you receive this kind of communication, it may be a scam!
- Social Security Administration: If the identity theft involves your social security number, report it to the Social Security Administration at (877) 438-4338. If your current number has been used by an identity thief, they may have to give you a new social security number and card.
- United States Postal Service: Contact USPS, to inform them if your mail has been stolen, if an account has been opened under your name or if you are concerned about credit card offers and statements being sent under your name.
- US Department of State: Even if your passport was not stolen or you have never applied for one, it is a good idea to contact the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs and inform them of the identity theft.
3. Send follow-up letters
Take notes during your conversations with the above agencies and companies. Email or write a letter to each company or agency that includes a summary of your discussion, the name of the person you spoke with and the date and time of the conversation. Ask the company or agency for a written response. Keep a copy of every letter you send and receive, and if possible, send all messages via certified mail with a return receipt, so you have proof.
4. Do not make payments that result from your identity theft
If you are a victim of identity theft, do not pay any bill (including partial payments) or honor any checks that were written or cashed by the identity thief. Pay only bills and other charges that you made.
Identity theft is a crime and if another person, including the identity thief, threatens legal action against you for standing up for your rights, report this to the Illinois Attorney General.
5. Review the safety of your online accounts
To deter future identity theft, review the security of your online accounts. Your online accounts include online banking accounts, emails, and even social media.
First, you will need to change the passwords on your online accounts. Use a password manager to help create strong, unique passwords and keep track of different passwords.
Next, set up two-factor authentication on each of your online accounts.
If you have more time and would like to learn more about how to stay safe online, visit the nonprofit website for Security Planner.
Updated: May 2018