Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. Marsh & McLennan Companies states that nearly 3.25 million Americans have been the victims of identity theft or misuse of personal information. The crime does not just affect the consumer. The FBI estimates that businesses lose over $67 billion annually to computer crimes and identity related incidences. If you suspect any type of misuse with your credit accounts, there are steps you should take immediately.
Contact your financial institution. Call the customer service line and ask to speak to the fraud department. Ask for fraud dispute forms. Even if a representative takes down all the details over the phone it is important that you put your dispute in writing. Log all your calls and keep a record of who you speak to.
Contact the authorities. File a police report in the area where you think the fraud occurred. Request an identity theft report. If the police don't have one, file a standard incident report. Contact the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC cannot pursue the case from a law enforcement capacity, but can share your case with other law enforcement agencies for investigative reasons.
Notify all other financial institutions you use. Contact them even if your other accounts have not been tampered with or compromised. They can place a fraud alert on your account in case the problem is worse than you originally thought.
Contact the credit bureaus. The three main credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Transunion and Experian. You only need to contact one and request a fraud alert for your credit report. The one you contact will notify the other two.
Unusual activity on your accounts, missing statements and purchases that you cannot account for are all signs of identity theft.
- Merril Lynch: Possible Signs of Identity Theft and Fraud
- Merril Lynch: How to Report Identity Theft
- Federal Trade Commission. "Equifax Data Breach Settlement." Accessed Oct. 29, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Section 1026.12, Special Credit Card Provisions." Accessed Oct. 29, 2020.
- Equifax. "7 Things to Know About Fraud Alerts." Accessed Oct. 29, 2020.
- Unusual activity on your accounts, missing statements and purchases that you cannot account for are all signs of identity theft.
Regina Hamilton has been writing off and on since leaving college in 1992. Her experience includes content writing for a legal Web site but has recently moved on into other areas including eHow, Garden Guides and Answerbag. Hamilton has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Ohio State University.