If you have reason to suspect you have been a target of ID theft, the following steps should be taken to first, assess the damage done and secondly begin to resolve the problem. Brace yourself for a fight it is not going to be easy, even though you are the victim here, undoubtedly you are going to be frustrated by the process that lies in front of you.
Obtain copies of your credit report from all three credit bureaus. And continue checking your credit report periodically (at least annually) from this point forward.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
Alert all three credit bureaus of the fraud and the specific accounts involved. If the problem is wide spread and affects multiple accounts, it might be a good idea to request that one representative at each bureau is assigned to help you deal with the problem. This will help to keep things as simple as possible and reduce the complication of having to repeat your story to multiple individuals multiple times.
Contact the creditor involved directly to notify them that you did not in fact open the account or authorize the charges. First demand a copy of the application completed to open the fraudulent account. It would be advisable to follow up with a written complaint of the false account as well and to send your letter to the creditor via certified mail. Request that the creditor send notices to each of the credit bureaus clearing your name on the particular account(s) and ask that copies of each notice be sent to you as well.
Have a fraud alert placed on your credit report. All creditors will now be forced to contact you directly to open new accounts or credit and to verify that it is in fact your intention to obtain credit and that you are the individual who completed the application on file.
Do not attempt to settle any fraudulent charges quickly for a lesser amount. If you do it is almost the same as admitting the fraud is your responsibility. This action will create a blemish on your credit report for up to 7 years so you are far better off fighting it out and having it removed completely.
Obtain brand new cards, account numbers and passwords on any accounts with fraudulent or suspicious activity.
Notify the police and file a police report. Request a copy of the report for your records.
In cases of mail tampering, notify the U.S. postal inspector as mail theft is a felony and a federal crime.
Nancy Osborne has had experience in the mortgage business for over 20 years and is a founder of both ERATE, where she is currently the COO and Progressive Capital Funding, where she served as President. She has held real estate licenses in several states and has received both the national Certified Mortgage Consultant and Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist designations. Ms. Osborne is also a primary contributing writer and content developer for ERATE.