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What To Do If You're A Victim & Tips For Protecting Your
Produced by the
MICHIGAN STATE POLICE
This guide provides victims of identity theft
with the major resources to contact. Victims themselves have the
ability to assist greatly with resolving their case. It is important to
act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage.
Identity theft is the unlawful use of your identifying
information (Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Credit Card
Numbers, Etc) to obtain goods, services, credit, open fraudulent bank
accounts or to facilitate other criminal activity.
Every 79 seconds, a thief steals someone's identity, opens an account
in the victim's name and goes on a spending spree. The victim can spend
anywhere from six months to two years and $1400 recovering from
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft:
- Never give out identifying information in response to unsolicited
offers by phone, mail, internet, or in person unless you initiate the
- Order & review your credit report yearly.
- Review financial and credit card statements monthly for unauthorized
- Shred or tear up discarded paperwork containing personal identifiers
(i.e. receipts, insurance forms, bank & credit card statements,
cash advance checks) before discarding.
- Protect your mail by removing it from your mailbox as soon as possible.
Place your mail delivery on hold at the post office while you're away
- Be aware of where your personal identification is kept and who has
access to it - at work and at home.
- Protect your wallet/purse and don't leave them unattended. Limit the
number of credit cards carried, and don't carry your PIN or social
security card in your wallet/purse.
- Treat checkbooks, ATM cards, credit cards & credit card offers
as if they were cash. Cancel unneeded credit cards.
- Don't put your social security number, phone number or date of birth on
your checks. When using the internet to make purchases, look for the
"s" in the address (https) to ensure a secure site.
If You're an Identity Theft Victim, You Should:
Contact The Credit Bureaus
Immediately call the fraud units of the three major credit reporting
companies - Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union (phone numbers provided below).
Request that a "fraud alert" be placed on your account. Add a victim's
statement to your report, i.e. "My ID has been used to apply for credit
fraudulently. Contact me at (telephone number) to verify all
applications." Ask how long the fraud alert will be posted on your
account, and how to extend it if necessary. Be aware that
these measures may not entirely stop new fraudulent accounts from being
opened by the imposter. Request, in writing, to receive a
free copy of your credit report every few months to monitor it. Request
the names and phone numbers of credit grantors with whom fraudulent
accounts have been opened. Ask that all inquiries that have been
generated due to the fraudulent access be removed. Request the credit
bureaus to notify those who have received your credit report in the
last six months (two years for employers) to alert them of the disputed
and erroneous information.
Immediately contact, by phone and in writing, all creditors with
whom accounts were created or used fraudulently. Get replacement cards
with new account numbers for existing accounts that you suspect were
used fraudulently. Request that old accounts be processed as "account
closed at consumer's request." This is better than "card lost or stolen"
which can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss. Monitor your mail
and credit card bills for evidence of new activity.
Banks and credit grantors may ask you to complete a notarized
fraud affidavit, which could become costly. The law does not
require you to provide a
affidavit to creditors. A written statement and supporting documentation
should be enough.
Make a Police Report
Report the crime to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction
for your case. Provide as much documentation as possible. Get a
copy of your police report and keep the report number handy to give
to creditors and others who require verification. Credit card companies
and banks may require you to show the report to verify the crime. Some
police departments have been known to resist taking reports on such
crimes due to jurisdictional lines and inexperience with the Identity
Theft Law. Michigan's Law, MCL 750.285, became effective on Apr. 1, 2001. Be
File A Complaint with The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Call 1-877-IDTHEFT (877-438- 4338) or visit
Consumer complaints help make the FTC database a better resource for
law enforcement officers. You may download the comprehensive guide "ID
Theft: When Bad Things Happen To Your Name" from the FTC website. The
guide helps consumers guard against and recover from identity theft.
Contact Your Financial Institutions
Report stolen checks, stolen or compromised ATM cards or fraudulent
bank accounts to the appropriate financial institution. Place a "stop
payment" on outstanding checks. Close your checking and/or savings
accounts and obtain new account numbers. Create new passwords avoiding
common numbers and names; i.e. last 4 digits of social security number,
telephone number or mother's maiden name.
Contact the Local Postal Inspector
Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect a change of address
was filed with the post office or mail was used to commit fraud. Find
out where the mail is being fraudulently sent. Notify the local
Postmaster to forward all mail in your name from that address to your
own address. Website for U.S. Postal Inspectors.
Contact The Social Security Administration:
Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline 800-269-0271 to report the
fraudulent use of your social security number. The SSA will only change
your SS# as a last resort if you fit their fraud victim criteria. Order
your Earnings and Benefits Statement and check it for accuracy.
Contact the Passport Office
Notify the Passport office in writing to watch for anyone ordering
your passport fraudulently.
Contact Your Phone Company
Contact your phone company to report stolen calling cards,
fraudulent charges and fraudulent accounts. Cancel the account
and open a new one.
Contact the Secretary of State
Contact your local Secretary of State office to report a driver's license
number being used fraudulently. Check if a duplicate license was issued
in your name. Place a fraud alert on your license. Fill out the SOS's
complaint form and send supporting documents to begin the fraud
Keep a log
of all conversations, including dates, times, names, and phone numbers.
Send correspondence by certified mail (return receipt requested). Keep
copies of all letters and documents.
- Report Fraud: Call (800) 525-6285 and
write to: PO Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374
- Order a credit report: (800) 685-1111.
Formerly TRW www.experian.com
- Report Fraud: Call (888) 397-3742 and
write to: PO Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013
- Order a credit report: (888) 397-3742.
- Report Fraud: (800) 680-7289 and
write to: PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
- Order Credit Report: (800) 888-4213
Credit Fraud victims are entitled to a free copy of their credit
report. By law, a credit bureau can't charge more than $9 per credit
Report Fraudulent Use of Checks:
- CheckRite/Global Payments: (800) 638-4600 x555
- Tele-Check: (800) 710-9898
To find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks in your
name, call: SCAN (800) 262-7771
Report Phone Fraud:
OPT OUT of Pre-Approved Credit Offers:
- Call: (888) 5OPTOUT or (888) 567-8688.
Remove Your Name From Mail and Phone Lists:
- Direct Marketing Association
-Mail Preference Service, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735
-Telephone Preference Service, PO Box 9014 Farmingdale, NY 11735
Social Security Administration
- Federal Trade Commission: Call the FTC ID Theft
Hotline (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357) for help with a consumer complaint.
- Report Fraud: (800) 269-0271 or report online at www.ssa.gov/oig
- Order Earnings and Benefits Statement: (800)
State of Michigan Laws
- MCL 750.285
- Obtaining Personal Identity Information With Unlawful
Intent, a 5 yr Felony
- MCL 750.219e
- Prohibited Conduct; Application For Loan or Extension of
Credit, 4 yr Felony
- MCL 257.903
- False Certification with S.O.S., a Felony
- MCL 750.248(1)(2)
- Forgery, 14 yr Felony
- MCL 750.157a
- Conspiracy, a Felony
ALSO: MCL 750.219f, MCL 750.157n, MCL 750.157p, MCL 750.157q, MCL
Additional Useful Web Sites: