How To Clean Up Identity Theft

In general, if you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, you likely will not be responsible for fraudulent charges. But, you do need to clear your name. Here's how.


In general, if you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, you likely will not be responsible for fraudulent charges. But, you do need to clear your name.  To lessen the impact of fraud and theft, take the following steps immediately:

1. Contact the fraud department of one of the three major credit bureaus, and place a fraud alert on your credit file.
A fraud alert can help you stop the thief from opening up additional accounts. With a fraud alert on your credit file, creditors will have to take additional steps to verify an applicant’s identity before issuing credit in your name.
You can place an initial fraud alert in your credit file by calling any one of the three major credit bureaus. That credit bureau is required by law to notify the other two bureaus.
If you want to extend this alert beyond 90 days you will have to file an identity theft report with federal, state or local authorities and provide any additional documentation the credit bureaus reasonably require in order to verify the validity of the fraud.

To report fraud to the credit bureaus:
Call 1-800-525-6285,
or write to
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Call 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742),
or write to
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013

Call 1-800-680-7289,
or write to
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634

2. Review your credit reports from all three credit bureaus.
Once you have placed the fraud alert in your credit file, you have the right to order a free copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus. Request a copy from each bureau.
When you get a copy of your report, review it carefully. Look for any accounts that you did not open. Also, look under the “Inquiries” section of your credit report to see if any unfamiliar companies have requested a copy of your credit report. Your credit report may have been provided to these companies because the thief has attempted to open an account in your name.

3. Close any new accounts the imposter has opened or has used to make fraudulent charges, and tell the credit bureaus to remove these accounts from your reports.
If a thief has opened new accounts in your name or made charges on your existing accounts, contact those companies and report the fraud.
You may want to use the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Affidavit when disputing these accounts. Ask the companies to close the accounts. You also need to dispute these accounts with the credit bureaus. Under federal law, you can block the reporting of any information in your credit report that is the result of identity theft. To do that, you will need to file an identity theft report and provide the credit bureau with proof of your identity. The credit bureau may refuse or cancel your request for a block if you do not provide it with the necessary documentation or if you make any material misrepresentations of fact.

4. Report the crime.
Report the crime to your local police department. Be sure to get a copy of the police report, as you may need it when you are working to clear your name with creditors and the credit bureaus.
You also will need to file a report with law enforcement in order to extend the initial fraud report on your credit files for more than 90 days.

5. Notify the Federal Trade Commission.
Report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC will share your complaint with law enforcement agencies across the country that are investigating identity theft. Filing a complaint also will help policy makers who are working to address the problem of identity theft learn more about what needs to be done about this problem.

* Call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline: (877) IDTHEFT (877-438-4338),
* Or complain on line:
* Or write: FTC Identity Theft Clearinghouse, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. , Washington , DC 20580 .
For more detailed information, request the following brochures:
* ID Theft: What to Do if it Happens to You
Privacy Rights
* Take Charge: Fighting Back Against ID Theft
Federal Trade Commission
877- IDTHEFT (877-438-4338)