Reporting Identity Theft

Reporting Identity Theft is Part 3 of The Identity Theft Prevention Series. Go to the end of the article for the rest of the series.

Reporting identity theft can be a very time, and energy, consuming ordeal. Not only are you fighting the loss or theft of your identity, but you have to clean up the mess as well.

You can learn many ways to prevent identity theft, but there may come a time when you need to report it.

Many victims do not know where to turn. Here are some resources and phone numbers you can use when reporting identity theft.

Keep in mind that speed is your friend. The faster you can report the crime, the better position you will be in when it is all over.

Reporting the Crime

Credit Bureaus

Equifax, Experian, and Transunion are the three major credit bureaus. Contact them when you are a victim of criminal identity theft and to request "fraud alerts" to your file.

Equifax (800)525-6285
Experian (888)397-3742
Equifax (800)680-7289

Federal Trade Commission

Filing a report with the FTC will aid officials in their efforts to stop identity theft. Any information you provide them can only help your situation.

Web: consumer.gov/idtheft
Phone: (877) ID-THEFT (438-4338)

PIRG Consumer Protection Organization

Some states allow their residents to place a freeze on their credit report. You can contact them or your State Attorney General's office to find more information.

Web: pirg.org

For Phishing

Phishing occurs when you get spam emails, online pop-ups, or phone calls from criminals attempting to get your personal information. They typically impersonate institutions and corporations.

I remember hearing a scam where an individual received an email stating that her bank account ID and password were compromised. The email instructed her to click on the link to enter their ID and old password along with the new one.

Little did she know, she was brought to a phishing site, a site disguised to look like the bank's real online site. She thought she was changing her password. Her information was compromised.

If you suspect someone phishing for your information, send the message to:

Email: spam@uce.gov

U.S. Postal Service

Charity fraud and reshipping scams are rising criminal activities. If you feel that you have become a victim of these and other fraudulent activity, visit:

Web: postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

Become More Informed

Fortunately, there are more and more resources you can find to help educate you on protecting your identity. Visit sites like privacyrights.org ((619) 298-3396) and onguardonline.gov. They dedicate their efforts to providing strategies from the federal government to guard you against Internet fraud and aide you in securing your computer and personal information

No Fun, But Must Be Done

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I was a victim of criminal identity theft once in college. Of all the advantages of credit cards, the ability to open them up quickly and fraudulently is not one of them. A credit card was opened up in my name and charges were made. If I recall correctly, the credit card went into default and to a collections agency.

They contacted me and I disputed the charges. I ended up reporting that my identity had been stolen. Fortunately, the company handled everything and my name was later cleared.

Reporting identity theft is no fun, but it must be done.

Teach your loved ones ways to prevent identity theft, how to stop it, and report this crime. Use this as a resource.

But, I hope this is one resource you will never need.

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