2014-01-17 / Top Stories

Identity Theft? Report It!

NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman advises that if you believe you are a victim of identity theft you should immediately:

 Create an identity theft fraud report. To do this, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and print your Identity Theft Affidavit. You can call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 or go to www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

 Use that affidavit to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report.

 An Identity Theft Report will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors and any fraudulent accounts that the identity thief opened in your name.

 Put a freeze on your credit report by notifying each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion or Experian). This will block someone from obtaining credit using your name or personal information. You won’t be able to apply for any new credit cards or loans while the freeze is in effect, but you can continue to use your existing cards.

To freeze your credit file, you must notify each of the three major credit bureaus. You can remove the freeze temporarily or permanently by contacting each of the three agencies. There is no fee if you have been the victim of identity theft. The freeze can be removed only by you.

 Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies. You are entitled to free reports once you post a fraud alert or put a freeze on your account. Read the reports carefully to see whether other fraudulent transactions or accounts are listed, and then take steps to correct those errors.  Check your credit card account frequently to look for any irregular activity.

If you might be a victim:

 Report to any of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Transunion or Experian) that you may have been a victim of identity theft. Make sure the credit reporting agency has your current contact information so it can get in touch with you.

 Ask the credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit file. This will still allow you to use your credit card. If you put a fraud alert on your file, you may ask for a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies. Contacting any one of the three credit reporting agencies listed above is enough to file a credit alert with all of them. A credit alert must be renewed every 90 days.

 You also have a right to put a credit freeze on your file. You may be charged a fee of up to $5 if you have not been a victim of identity theft.

 You should also check your credit activity regularly with each credit issuer. You don’t need to wait for your monthly statement, though you should check that as well. Many banks provide online information to account holders about recent activity.

The contact information for the credit reporting agencies:

 Equifax: 1-800-525-6285  Experian: 1-888-397-3742  TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

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