Identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number or other personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund. There are many ways that you might discover that someone is using your information.
Clues That Someone Has Stolen Your Information
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
Most people who experience identity theft must take several steps to recover. IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft.
What To Do Right Away
If you see one of these warning signs of identity theft, act quickly. Taking these steps will help you limit the damage.
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and get copies of your report. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90 day fraud alert; a call to one company is all that is needed:
- Report identity theft to the FTC.
By phone: 1-877-438-4338 or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
Identity Theft Clearinghouse,
Federal Trade Commission,
Washington, DC 20580
- File a report with your local police department.
Then, take a deep breath and begin to repair the damage. Depending on your situation, your next step might be closing accounts opened in your name, or reporting fraudulent charges. IdentityTheft.gov can help — no matter what your specific identity theft situation is.