Report identity theft.
If you suspect that someone has stolen your personal information, it's critical to act as quickly as possible to minimize potential harm to your financial reputation.
Here's what you need to do:
1. Change your passwords and review Accounts
Change your Passwords, PINs, and Security Questions – Change the passwords on all your online accounts immediately. This should include your email accounts because fraudsters can use email accounts to regain access to other online accounts.
Review your Account Information – Make sure that your account contact information is correct and current on all your online accounts. Make sure that there are no unknown phone numbers or email addresses added to your accounts because fraudsters will use these to get back into the account after you have changed your password.
Review your recent Account Activity – Review all the recent activity in all your online accounts including your email accounts. Note anything suspicious because this can help identify how long ago you may have been compromised and will prepare you for conversations with your Financial Institutions and Law Enforcement if needed.
2. Contact Your Financial Institutions Immediately
Call PayPal – We're here to help, day and night. If you suspect your PayPal account has been compromised, contact us immediately.
Call your banks and credit card companies – Ask for the fraud departments, explain your situation, and ask them what they can do to help.
Fill out an affidavit – Before contacting your financial institutions, fill out an identity theft affidavit prepared by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. This will help you deal with any questions from your banks and credit card companies.
Know your rights – The Federal Trade Commission offers a summary of your rights in the United States, so check it out.
3. Report It to Law Enforcement
File a crime report – Call your local police and file a report right away. This will help your credibility when you're speaking with the banks and credit card companies. In some cases, you may have to file a report in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred.
4. Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit
Contact the three major credit bureaus – With a fraud alert on your credit, banks and credit card companies will have to contact you before opening any new accounts in your name.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Not based in the US? – Contact your bank or credit card company to find the appropriate agencies to work with.
5. Report it to the FTC
See the FTC website on Identity Theft for more information
6. Never let your guard down
Prevent a repeat offense – Identity theft can strike twice – victims have to be even more careful once an incident has occurred.
Be more careful than you used to be – It's critical that you check your account activity and balances regularly after an identity theft has occurred. Victims are much more likely to become a victim again. You should also order a credit report every now and then to make sure nothing's out of order. You can get one free credit report per year from http://www.annualcreditreport.com. You should use unique strong passwords for each site and you should review the security of your PC and mobile devices.
More Identity Theft Resources
Here are some additional resources for Identity Theft: