Surviving Identity Theft
Recovering from identity theft can be frustrating, complicated, and tiring. You may experience anger, fear and helplessness. These are normal reactions for people impacted by crime. Your recovery may be further complicated if the perpetrator is a family member or if you are also in the process of recovering from other violent traumas. Our advocates are here to help.
The following are initial steps for you to consider if you suspect your personal information could be compromised. Because these are very basic steps and do not cover all ways an identity theft could occur, we encourage you to contact an NVRDC advocate for further assistance as needed.
Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
- Ask for the fraud department. Explain that someone stole your identity.
- Ask them to close or freeze the accounts.
- Change logins, passwords and PINS.
- Follow up in writing. Ask the company to send you their fraud dispute forms. If the company doesn’t have special forms, use the Sample Letter To Company Disputing Charge For Existing Account to dispute the fraudulent charges or debits.
- Include a copy of any billing statement you have marked to show the inaccurate information.
- Put your request in writing and send to the company at the address given for billing inquiries or an address the fraud department provides, not the address for sending your payments.
Step 2: Place a Fraud Alert and Get a Copy of Your Credit Reports
- Place a free, 90 day fraud alert by contacting one of the three credit bureaus below.
- It may also make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. When you have an alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name.
- Get your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Did you already order your free annual reports this year? If so, you can pay to get your report immediately. Or follow the instructions in the fraud alert confirmation letter from each credit bureau to get a free report. Please know that might take longer.
- Review your reports. Make note of any account or transaction you don’t recognize. This will help you report the theft to the FTC and the police. If you need help with this step, please contact us.
Step 3: Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Complete the online form or call 1-877-438-4338. This form + your police report will create what is known as an “Identity Theft Report,” which is important in asserting your rights as a victim of identity theft. More about this is in the next step.
Step 4: File a report with police.
- Report the crime to the Metropolitan Police Department. In DC, Maryland, and Virginia, you are entitled to file a police report in the area in which you live. This means you do not have to travel to the area where the crime occurred to file a report in cases of identity theft.
- When you make a report, have ready:
o a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
o a government-issued ID with a photo
o proof of your address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utilities bill)
o any other proof you have of the theft (bills, IRS notices, etc.)
- Tell the police someone stole your identity and you need to file a report. If they are reluctant, show them the FTC's Memo to Law Enforcement.
- Ask for a copy of the police report. You’ll need this to complete other steps.
- Create your Identity Theft Report by combining your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit with your police report. Your identity theft report proves to businesses that someone stole your identity. It also guarantees you certain rights. To learn more about DC law regarding identity theft and fraud, click here.
Please contact us if you need additional support in your recovery.