If you have been the victim of identity theft, you will undoubtedly want to report it as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your credit and good name. But to who? Your first stop should be the Federal Trade Commission, which is the primary law enforcement agency dealing with ID theft. Then go to your local police. Here are the steps you should take to file a report with both.
Filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission
Before you file, have the following information ready:
- Your full legal name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
- Phone number
- Email address
- Residential address, and how long you have lived there
Next, go to www.identitytheft.gov. The FTC has streamlined the filing process to make it intuitive and easy. Follow the prompts to:
1. Fill out your ID theft Report
This is the official record of the crime, which you should save and print. You will need this when reporting the fraud to the police and your credit card companies and other financial institutions.
2. Access your recovery plan
The FTC will generate a personalized recovery plan which will tell you what to do next— like downloading forms and dispute letters that can be sent to your credit bureaus and other financial institutions to clear your name.
Calling the FTC
You can also report ID theft over the phone. Call the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
When to file with the police
Even though the FTC, as a federal agency, supersedes local law enforcement, there are instances when filing a police report for identity theft is necessary, such as:
- You know, or, at least, suspect the person who committed the crime. This could be a roommate, family member, anyone who had access to your personal information right before the fraud was committed. Your local police might very well want to investigate that person.
- You have information that could help a local police investigation. For example: if someone used your name and address and then filed for a change of address with your post office – a standard scam for diverting mail. This would help pinpoint the suspect’s location.
- Your identity was used during a crime. If a fraudster shows your ID during a traffic stop or an arrest, you may have a police record in your name. Filing a police report can help protect you from unjust penalties and warrants.
- Your financial institution requires a police report for an identity theft investigation. Some banks, credit card companies, and debt collectors want an official police report on file as they resolve disputes.
How to file a police report for identity theft
When you file a police report for identity theft, whether online or at your local precinct, make sure you have:
- Your FTC Identity Theft Report.
- Photo ID, like your driver’s license or passport.
- Proof of address, like a utility bill, paystub, rental lease, mortgage papers.
- Evidence of the fraud, such as copies of your credit card statements, bank account statements, collection letters, etc.
What to do if your local law enforcement doesn’t handle ID theft?
Some local police departments do not handle ID theft—which does not help you if a debt collector requires a police report. If this is the case, your state attorney general’s office will tell you where you can file in person, or how to file a police report online for identity theft.
Reporting your ID theft to the 3 credit bureaus
Once your FTC and police ID theft reports are filed, you need to alert all three major credit bureaus. You can do this online at:
Dispute any fraudulent charges or accounts opened in your name immediately. Have copies of your FTC Report and police report on hand when you do.
Other steps you can take
Here are some additional steps you can take that will help limit the damage from ID theft:
Freeze your credit
This will help to stop a thief from opening accounts in your name because financial institutions won’t be able to access your credit reports, which they typically need to issue approval.
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports
This will warn businesses that your identity has been compromised. Credit lenders will be required to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing new lines of credit in your name.
Review your credit card and bank statements
Recognizing identity theft is key. Check your credit card and bank statements monthly to determine if there are transactions you didn’t make. If you spot potential theft, request new account numbers and new cards.
Change passwords and usernames
Do this with all online accounts, even social media. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Get identity theft protection
Last, but certainly not least, is ID theft protection, and, here, IDShield is truly the industry gold standard. We offer identity theft protection—and if there is a fraud, our team of licensed private investigators will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes, to restore your identity to its pre-theft status, unlike anyone else. Please check out Lifelock vs. IDShield to see how we rate against the competition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you file a police report for identity theft?
Yes, you can. Many credit card companies, financial institutions and debt collectors require a police report when you contact them about fraud.
What is the process for filing a police report for identity theft?
First, you need to file a theft report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov. Then, with that in hand, file a police report.
Can you file a police report for identity theft online?
You can, if your local law enforcement has an online portal for ID theft. If not, check with your state attorney general’s office to learn how to file a police report for identity theft online.
What information do you need when filing a police report for identity theft?
Make sure you have your FTC theft report, government-issued photo ID, proof of address and evidence of the fraud.
Do police investigate identity theft?
They do, most particularly, when:
- You know the person who committed the fraud.
- You have information that could aid a local investigation.
IDShield has different plans tailored to suit your specific needs. Choose the one that’s right for you.
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