Instructions for Identity Theft Victims
Once you discover you are the victim of identity theft: Keep a written log of every phone call, copies of all correspondence and expenses associated with managing your identity theft case. Then follow the steps below.
1. Order a FREE copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting bureaus. (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion)
To order your once yearly FREE report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228. (You will also be entitled to additional free credit reports as a victim of Identity theft.)
By ordering your report you will be able to determine whether there are any additional fraudulent accounts and/or inquiries that you need to report to law enforcement and the credit reporting bureaus.
2. Complete ID Theft Affidavit.
3. File a preliminary police report with the law enforcement agency that services the jurisdiction in which you live.
-Supply the law enforcement agency with a copy of your completed ID Theft Affidavit and any supporting documentation you have collected. These documents will be included with your report and evaluated for follow-up by the reporting agency and/or forwarded the agency(s) where the crime(s) occurred. (California Penal Code section 530.6)
-Obtain a copy of your police report. You will need to provide a copy of this report to each of the creditors and credit reporting bureaus when reporting the fraud. Instructions to do this can be found on the link below:
4. Report the fraud to the three major credit reporting bureaus and place a preliminary "fraud alert" on your credit files. A fraud alert notifies a creditor to contact you at a specific phone number before granting credit.
Experian. P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com or 1-888-397-3742.
TransUnion. P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
www.transunion.com or 1-800-680-7289.
Equifax. P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30348
www.equifax.com or 1-800-525-6285.
The fraud alert will only remain in place for 90 days. Protect yourself by extending the fraud alert to 7 years. This must be done in writing. (See template letter)
***A fraud alert is only as good as the creditor who sees it. You may also “Freeze” your credit files for free, which prevents a creditor from even viewing your credit history, so credit will not be granted without you personally lifting the “Freeze”. A credit freeze may be done in writing or online.
*Credit Freeze Template Letters (link to word doc)
-Follow up with "Blocking" letters to each of the three credit reporting bureaus requesting that all inquiries, fraudulent accounts, or collection information, as a result of fraud, be removed from your credit files.
5. Call Creditors and dispute fraudulent charges and any new accounts that the thief opened in your name. Request documents associated with the fraudulent account and/or transactions.
-Tell the creditors that you are the victim of identity theft and ask them not to hold you responsible for new accounts opened by the thief or fraudulent charges made on your existing accounts. Ask the creditors to give you copies of documents associated with the new accounts or fraudulent charges, which you are entitled to by law. (530.8 PC)
-Follow up your phone call with a letter to the creditors, reiterating what you said in your phone call.
6. If you are contacted by a collection agency…
-Tell the debt collector you are the victim of identity theft, that you dispute the debt, and are not responsible for it. Even if the debt collector assures you that they have relieved you of the debt, send the debt collector a certified follow-up letter, within 30 days, reiterating what you said or they may transfer your debt to another debt collector.
7. If your checks, or bank account information are lost or stolen or a bank account is opened using your personal information…
-Call the bank and close your bank account. Open a new account with a new account number. Tell the bank you want to use a new password for access to your new account.
-Contact the major check verification companies listed below and ask them to notify retailers who use their databases not to accept checks on your closed account. (If you do not take this step retailers will accept the check then attempt to collect from you when the check is returned "Account closed".)
-If you think a checking account was opening using your name order a free copy of your ChexSystems report. Consumer Disclosure Report You can call 1-800-428-9623 to Dispute any inaccurate information.
Telecheck 1-800-710-9898. www.telecheck.com
Certegy, Inc 1-800-237-3826 www.askcertegy.com
8. If you are wrongly accused of a crime committed by an identity thief…
-There is a special database in the California Department of Justice that can help victims of "Criminal Identity Theft", which occurs when a suspect in a criminal investigation identifies themselves using the identity of another, innocent person.
9. When your child’s identity is stolen…
-Children are the fastest growing group of identity theft victims.
10. Identity Theft and the Deceased…
-The deceased are frequently the target of identity theft.
11. ’Active Duty’ Alert Helps Protect Military Personnel from Identity Theft:
12. Mortgage Title Theft
-Some companies offer a paid service to protect the title of your home. However, Contra Costa County offers you this service for FREE. Contra Costa County automatically sends a letter to your address of record ANYTIME there is a change to your title confirming that you have made this change, so there is no need to pay for this service. If you should receive a notice and you have not made changes to your title, you must act immediately and report the fraudulent activity so suspects cannot take loans against or sell your property.
13. Avoid Mail Theft
-Obtain a locking mailbox or P.O. Box or digitally preview your mail and manage your packages with the US postal service so you know if your mail has been stolen. To sign up for digital mail previews, please click the link below.
INTERNET CRIMES AND COMPLAINTS:
Unless you have suffered a financial loss and a police report is required for insurance purposes, report all Internet Crimes or suspected scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. www.IC3.gov. The IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which provides a central referral mechanism for complaints involving Internet related crimes.
INCOME TAX FRAUD
Income tax fraud is one of the fastest growing types of Identity Theft and the most difficult to prevent. It cannot be detected by a fraud alert, credit freeze or by monitoring your other existing accounts. The only way to prevent income tax fraud is by making sure you file your taxes before anyone else can. If you are already the victim of identity theft or believe your information has been compromised you may also file an affidavit with the IRS. Once filed, the IRS attaches a password to your social security number, which is sent to you prior to tax time and is required to file your taxes. Unfortunately the Franchise Tax Board does not yet offer the same option.
If someone has filed a tax return using your personal information or you receive a notice of back taxes owed do to someone having worked using your personal information….contact the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board, in addition to the steps already listed above. Do not assume that it is only your taxes that are affected.
Office of the Attorney General. https://www.oag.ca.gov/idtheft/
Federal Trade Commission. www.ftc.gov/idtheft
ID Theft Resource Center. www.idtheftcenter.org
Privacy Rights Clearing House. www.privacyrights.org
Social Security Administration. www.ssa.gov
Department of Motor Vehicles. www.dmv.ca.gov
U.S. Postal Inspection Service. https://www.uspis.gov/tips-prevention/identity-theft