If You Are a Victim
The steps you take as a victim depend on the type of crime that has occurred, or the pieces of information compromised.
- Bank account number, check card or credit card numbers, or access codes – Notify the bank(s) and close the account(s).
- Social security number or card – Notify one of the three major credit reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert can help prevent new credit accounts from being opened with your information. The agency contacted is required to notify the other agencies.
File a police report if a physical theft has occurred. If you are a victim of a pretense scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.
Follow these steps if fraudulent transactions appear on your bank or credit card account:
- Alert your bank – The law protects you from fraudulent transactions, but time limits apply based on the type of transaction.
- Report in writing – Most banks require the completion of a dispute form, but if not, follow up with a letter. Keep a copy of all correspondence.
- Close your account – Close your account and open a new one to prevent additional fraudulent transactions.
If you believe fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name, it is important to follow and carefully document the steps below. Make notes of everyone you speak with, print online forms, and retain all related documents.
- File a police report – A police report may be required to substantiate your fraud claim, so file a police report and retain a copy.
- Contact the bank or creditor – The process for handling a fraud claim will vary by bank. Make sure you understand exactly what is expected from you, and what you can expect from the bank.
- Document your claim in writing – If the bank does not provide you with a fraud form, send a written letter via certified mail.
- Notify credit-reporting agencies – If fraudulent accounts appear on your credit report, file a dispute with each credit-reporting agency. Follow up in writing and include copies of your documentation, such as a police report, or credit report with fraudulent accounts circled.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report – Notify the credit-reporting agencies and place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. These services can help prevent the opening of new credit accounts with your information. A fraud alert is a cautionary flag to creditors, while a security freeze is a more drastic measure that prevents access to your report. Explore the differences and decide which method is right for you by contacting the fraud department at the credit-reporting agencies.
- Monitor your credit report – Periodically check your credit report to make sure all fraudulent activity is removed, and that additional fraudulent activity has not occurred.
- Keep your documentation – At the conclusion of the investigation, ask the creditor for a document that states you are not responsible for the debt. Keep all notes and correspondence.
The Federal Trade Commission is your fraud advocate. For additional help, call their toll-free number at 877.IDTHEFT, or visit ftc.gov.