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Has your Information Been Used to Open New Accounts?

Identity thieves may open new accounts in your name if they gain access to key pieces of your personal information, such as your Social Security number along with your name or address.  We understand how frustrating and frightening this can be when a criminal is committing this type of identity theft.
Identity thieves typically open new credit and bank accounts, telephone and utility accounts, obtain student, personal, auto, and business loans, and make other major credit purchases using stolen personal information.
When the thief doesn’t pay these bills, the creditors come after you, leaving you stuck cleaning up the mess and clearing your credit report. If your personal information has been stolen and used to open new accounts, consider taking the following seven steps as soon as possible.  Keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.
If you suspect that your personal information has been used to commit identity theft:
1. Consider Placing a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports:
  • Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three credit reporting agencies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
  • Only one of the three credit bureaus need to contacted to place an alert. The bureau contacted is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too. If you do not receive a confirmation from a company, you should contact that company directly to place a fraud alert.
  • Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports. 
2. Review Your Credit Reports:
  • Review your credit reports carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts or past due notices on your accounts that you can’t explain.
  • Check personal information like your Social Security number, address, name or initials, and employers to be sure they are correct.
  • If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report, contact the credit bureaus to get it removed or corrected. You may also want to contact the companies that furnished the information to the credit bureaus to ask them to remove the information they reported.
3. Contact Companies Where the Identity Thief Misused Your Information:
  • Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company and close the accounts that have been opened fraudulently.
  • Follow up in writing. Ask the representative to send you the company’s fraud dispute forms. If the company doesn’t have special forms, use the email me on the contact page  or info on how to dispute the fraudulent charges or debits.
  • Include a copy of any billing statement you have marked to show the inaccurate information.
  • Put your request in writing and send to the company at the address given for billing inquiries or an address the fraud department provides, NOT the address for sending your payments and include copies (Do not send originals) of supporting documents.
  • Send all of your letters by certified mail and request a return receipt to confirm your letter and information was received.
  • Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.
  • Once you have resolved your identity theft dispute with the company, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed accounts and discharged the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best proof if errors relating to this account reappear on your credit report or you are contacted again about the fraudulent debt.
4. Report the Identity Theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
  • Creating an Identity Theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission can be very helpful in assisting law enforcement  with creating an Identity Theft Report and can also be used at times in place of a police report if you are unable to obtain a report from your local law enforcement agency.
  • Report all of the inaccuracies you have identified on your credit report and anything else you know about the crime.  Go to www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft to report online and print out an Identity Theft Affidavit when you are finished.  You may also contact the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338), to file your report by phone, and request that they send you an affidavit of the report that you filed by phone.
5. File a Police Report:
  • Contact your local law enforcement agency about your identity theft and file an Identity Theft Report. Be sure to ask for a copy of the report.
  • You will need an Identity Theft Report to exercise your right to have the fraudulent information removed permanently from your credit report, and to stop creditors and collection agencies from reporting the fraudulent debt to the credit bureaus.
  • Take a copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit you filed with the FTC to the police to make it easier for the police to write your Identity Theft Report.
6. Dispute Inaccurate Information with Credit Reporting Agencies:
  • Make a written request to the credit bureaus that they permanently remove or correct the information you have identified as inaccurate, and that they notify the creditors who provided that information that it is fraudulent.
  • Enclose a copy of your marked credit report, along with a copy of your police Identity Theft Report and a copy your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first 12 months after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
7. Dispute Inaccurate Information from Each Creditor or Collection Agency:
  • Submit in writing a statement to creditors or collection agencies indicating the inaccurate information that they provided to the credit bureaus or inaccurate information that appears in any statements you have received.
  • Include a copy of your credit report or billing statement marked to show the inaccurate information, along with a copy of the police Identity Theft Report and a copy your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. (Do not send originals)
  • Send all of your letters by certified mail and request a return receipt to confirm your letter and information was received.
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