February 10, 2012 > Have you been the victim of identity theft?
Have you been the victim of identity theft?
Submitted By Newark Police Department
If you think you are the victim of identity theft or fraud, there are important steps you should take to minimize the impact. The following are tips for effectively responding to identity theft.
*Place a fraud alert on your credit reports
Notify all three main credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, listed below - that you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, and ask that a fraud alert be placed on your credit file. This should help prevent further damage if an identity thief has successfully applied for credit in your name, and help prevent further credit abuse. You should also consider placing a freeze on your credit report that should prevent any new credit accounts being opened in your name. In California, this is free for victims of identity theft.
*Complete an identity theft affidavit
You will need to complete an identity theft affidavit form. This form can be used to halt any hasty action by creditors and debt collectors, and can be downloaded from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) web site at http://www.ftc.gov; click on the Identity Theft link.
You will probably need to send a copy of the affidavit to each affected creditor, along with any information about the accounts fraudulently opened in your name, as well as a copy of the police report. Be sure to always send an identity theft affidavit by certified mail and request a return receipt.
*File a police report
You should also file a report of identity theft with your police department. File your report in the city where you live, although you can also file it in the city where you work. You are not required to file a report of identity theft in the city where you think the crime was committed.
The Newark Police Department requires all identity theft reports be filed on line. Please visit http://www.newark.org/departments/police/administrative-services/identity-theft to make a report of identity theft if you live or work in the City of Newark. Make sure you keep a copy of the completed police report.
*Contact your bank and credit card companies
Contact all affected bank and credit card companies and close any affected accounts if necessary. If checks have been misused, place a stop order on any outstanding checks that you are not sure about. Contact any creditors, such as stores or utility companies, with whom your name has been used fraudulently. You should explain the circumstances, offer to provide a copy of the identity theft affidavit, and request copies of any documentation such as loan applications and transaction records. If theft from a bank account is involved, you should close that account immediately and open a new one, as well as cancel your ATM and credit cards and request new ones. Make sure you always create a new, strong password and PIN for any new accounts.
*Don't be intimidated by debt collectors
Debt collectors can sometimes be too aggressive in pursuing victims of identity theft. Don't be intimidated by debt collectors; if the debt is not yours, do not offer or agree to pay anything. Respond in writing and keep a record.
Keep copies of all fraudulent transactions and of all correspondences with banks and creditors concerning the disputed transactions.
*Contact the Post Office
If mail has been stolen or a mailing address has been fraudulently used by an identity thief, you should report it to the postal inspectors. You can find the contact information for your nearest office on the United States Postal Service web site at www.usps.gov. You should also contact your local Post Office if you think your address has been changed by a thief.
*Contact Social Security Administration
If you suspect that your Social Security number has been misused, you should report it to the Social Security Administration. Contact information can be found at www.ssa.gov.
If you live or work in the City of Newark and believe you are the victim of identity theft, there is now a free service that will provide advice and support to help you get through it.
This unique service is a partnership between the Newark Police Department and the Identity Theft Council, a non-profit group of identity theft and security experts who are volunteering their time to provide free assistance to identity theft victims locally.
To speak to a counselor by phone, call 1 (888)771-0767, or you can email the Identity Theft Council at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit http://www.identitytheftcouncil.org.
Credit reporting agencies:
To report fraud: 800-525-6285, 800-255-0056 service for Deaf
To report fraud: 888-397-3742, TDD: 800-972-0322
To report fraud: 800-680-7289, TDD: 877-553-7803