What is Identity Theft?
The fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain.
Consumers are targeted every day for identity theft, check fraud, online fraud through email and Internet scams, elder financial abuse and more. Criminals are constantly developing new schemes to commit identity theft and fraud.
Identity Theft Resources
The Federal Trade Commission provides a resource which outlines immediate action steps.
The IRS also provides a well-written Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft suggesting the following steps:
- Step One – File a report with the local police. Most jurisdictions request that you call the non-emergency number in your place of residence. You can also receive free help from the Identity Theft Resource Center.
- Step Two – File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 877-438-4338.
- Step Three – Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert” on your credit record:
- Step Four – Close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.
Contact your Attorney General’s Office, most states have a dedicated unit that assists with identity theft or provides identity theft resources. Click here to find out your Attorney General.
What is a Security Freeze?
A Security Freeze is the best way to help prevent new accounts from being opened in your name. It is free to freeze and unfreeze your credit and it will not affect your credit score.
Equifax Security Freeze
Experian Security Freeze
TransUnion Security Freeze
IRS Fraud Alert
The IRS allows you to file an Identity Theft affidavit “if you are an actual or potential victim of identity theft and would like the IRS to mark your account to identify questionable activity”.
IRS Identity Theft Affidavit
The IRS provides their guide to identity theft here.
We recommend everyone get an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS.
- OptOutPrescreen – reduce the credit and insurance offers received through the mail
- CreditKarma – free credit scores and monitoring tools
- AnnualCreditReport – you can access your credit report yearly for free from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: When should you file an Extended Fraud Alert or a Credit Freeze?
Answer: After you contact the Identity Theft Resource Center, then you should then file a fraud alert or credit freeze with credit reporting agencies. Both services are FREE!
Question: What is the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?
Answer: An extended fraud alert means that a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit. It lasts seven years and is available only to identity theft victims. A credit freeze generally stops all access to your credit report, while a fraud alert permits creditors to get your report if they take steps to verify your identity. A credit freeze is available to anyone, regardless if you are a victim of identity theft.