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What to do when your identity is stolen

You have discovered that someone has stolen your identity, and you are now on the hook for bills charged up by someone else in your name. What steps do you need to take to rectify this?

Because identity theft is quickly becoming a theft of choice by many theives, incidences of identity theft have been rapidly rising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up resources to assist victims restore their credit.

First, you phone the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline. Their toll free number is 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338). Trained counsellors will take the claim of your complaint and walk you through the steps of how to contact baking institutions, deal with creditors for debts made by the other person.

A new program developed by the FTC is the ID Theft Affidavit, which is a legal form which will assist you in resoring your credit. This is one form you can use for contacting all businesses where an account was opened in your name. You can download the ID Theft Affidavit here.

You should get copies of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies and scrutinize each one (it is free when you are requesting a copy due to fraud; otherwise the charge is a maximum of $9 per report). This will enable you to see what has been opened against your name without your authorization.

Each credit buruea will also place a fraud alert on your account, which will alert any new creditors that they must contact you personally before opening a new account. (For information on reporting to the credit bureaus for fraud reasons, please see our article Reporting Identity Theft to the Credit Bureaus)

You will also want to report the identity theft to your local police department. They may launch an investigation depending on a range of factors (amount of debts, possible suspects..) For help with filinf a police report, see our article Reporting Identity Theft to the Police)


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