Reclaiming Your Identity

The following steps can help you straighten out the damage done by identity theft and help you regain control:

Credit or debit card accounts:
If you discover that an identity thief has changed the billing address on an existing account, close the account. When you open a new account, ask that a password be used before any inquiries or changes can be made on the account.

Bank accounts:
If you have reason to believe that an identity thief has tampered with your bank accounts, checks or ATM card, close the accounts immediately. When you open new accounts, insist on password only access to minimize the chance that an identity thief can violate the accounts.

In addition, if your checks have been stolen or misused, contact your bank to obtain stop payment instructions. Also contact the major check verification companies to request that they notify retailers using their databases not to accept these checks, or ask your bank to notify the check verification service with which it does business. The following three check verification companies accept reports of check fraud directly from consumers:

  • Equifax: 1-800-437-5120
  • International Check Services: 1-800-366-5010
  • Telecheck: 1-800-710-9898

If your ATM card has been lost, stolen or otherwise compromised, cancel the card as soon as you can and get another with a new PIN.

Investments:
If you believe that an identity thief has tampered with your securities investments or brokerage account, immediately report it to your broker or account manager and to the Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20549-0213. You may also call 1-800-732-0330 or send an email to help@sec.gov.

Phone service:
If an identity thief has established new phone service in your name; is making unauthorized calls that seem to come from your cellular phone; or is using your calling card and PIN, contact your service provider immediately to cancel the account and/or calling card. Open new accounts and choose new PINs.

If you are having trouble getting fraudulent phone charges removed from your account, contact your state Public Utility Commission for local service providers or the Federal Communications Commission for long-distance service providers and cellular providers. You can:

  • Call 1-888-CALL-FCC
  • Write to:

FCC’s Consumer Complaint Division
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Employment:
If someone is using your Social Security Number to apply for a job or to work, that's a crime. Report it to the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-772-1213. Also contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or online at www.ssa.gov/oig to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your Social Security number, and to request a copy of your Social Security statement. Follow up your calls in writing to Social Security Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.

Driver's license:
If you suspect that your name or Social Security Number is being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license or a non-driver's ID card, contact your Department of Motor Vehicles. If your state uses your Social Security Number as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.

Bankruptcy:
If you believe someone has filed for bankruptcy using your name, write to the U.S. Trustee in the region where the bankruptcy was filed. A listing of the U.S. Trustee Program's regions can be found at www.usdoj.gov/ust/ or look in the Blue Pages of your phone book under U.S. Government-Bankruptcy Administration.

Your letter should describe the situation and provide proof of your identity. The U.S. Trustee, if appropriate, will make a referral to criminal law enforcement authorities if you provide appropriate documentation to substantiate your claim. You also may want to file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney and/or the FBI in the city where the bankruptcy was filed.

Criminal records/arrests:
In rare instances, an identity thief may create a criminal record under your name. For example, your imposter may give your name when being arrested. If this happens to you, you may need to hire an attorney to help resolve the problem. The procedures for clearing your name may vary by city or state.