If you have discovered that you are the victim of identity theft, I would recommend that you act quickly and decisively to stop the thief as soon as possible. The main things that you want to do are: place a fraud alert on your credit files, file a report with your local police department, contact the creditors who have had fraudulent accounts opened or accessed by the identity thief, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. As to these activities, you should consider the following:
FRAUD ALERT– As discussed in another blog post, you should place fraud alerts on your credit file. The fraud alert should slow the identity thief from opening up any new accounts. If you contact one credit reporting agency, they are supposed to contact the other two. If you have confirmation of an identity theft problem, I would call or notify all credit report agencies. The fraud alert numbers presently are:
Trans Union fraud alert phone number 1-800-680-7289
Equifax Fraud alert phone number 1-800-526-6285
Experian Fraud alert phone number 1-888-397-3742
NOTIFY LOCAL POLICE OF IDENTITY THEFT– You can call your local police and see what their procedure is for filing an identity theft police report. You need to take the time to file a police report because creditors and credit reporting agencies typically want to see that you filed a police report as an indication that your claim is genuine. Having a police report will also help trigger important identity theft victim rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In the county of my residence, Fairfax County, Virginia, identity theft reports can sometimes be difficult to obtain in person because our county is so large and busy. The following links should help people in Virginia report identity theft to the police:
Alexandria, Virginia identity theft police report information: Non-emergency phone number (703) 838-4444.
Arlington County, Virginia identity theft police report information: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/police/incident/new/start-report.html
Fairfax County, Virginia identity theft police report information: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/ficor/
Henrico County, Virginia identity theft police report information: http://www.co.henrico.va.us/police/contacting-henrico-police.html
Loudoun County, Virginia identiy theft police report information: http://www.loudoun.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=1912&zoom_highlight=identity+theft#checklist
Prince William County, Virginia identity theft police report information: http://www.pwcgov.org/docLibrary/PDF/005845.pdf
Richmond, Virginia identity theft police report information: http://www.richmondgov.com/Police/index.aspx
Stafford, Virginia identity theft ploice report information: Non-emergency phone number (540) 658-4450
CONTACT CREDITORS– Contact the creditor directly and request to speak to someone in the fraud department. You should keep a log of your contacts, including the name of the person, what they told you, and what actions that you took as a result of the contact. You should send these creditors a written communication by certified mail with information about your identity theft, a statement that you did not open the account and/or make the disputed charges, and identify the police report number with investigating officer if possible. My personal belief is that you must prove your innocence. Do not assume creditors will believe you, or that the creditor will do what they tell you that they are going to do, follow-up. Keep a separate file for each creditor and maintain copies of all documents that you receive or send to each creditor. You may be asked to complete a fraud affidavit . If you receive one, make sure that you complete the document properly and return it as soon as possible.
NOTIFY THE FTC– The Federal Trade Commission has wonderful and free resources for identity theft victims. I recommend that you use the FTC website as a reference source. The FTC also logs identity theft complaints in order to stop and slow down identity thieves. It is recommended that you notify the FTC when you are the victim of identity theft. You can call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 or contact them on-line to report identity theft, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/form-filling-instructions.html#HowdoIfilloutthecomplaintform
Dealing with the problems associated with identity theft can be time consuming and a roller coaster of emotions as you work through the situation. If you have any questions or need any assitance, please contact me at 571-313-0412.