Have you seen unexplained withdrawals from your bank account, had merchants refuse your checks, been told by the IRS that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or received medical bills for services you didn’t use? If so, you may be one of millions of victims of identity theft (13 million in 2013!) that happen each year. The Federal Trade Commission advises that you take these immediate steps:
1. Notify your bank and credit card companies by phone and in writing.
2. Place an Initial Fraud Alert on your credit report by calling one of the three credit-reporting companies. This will make it harder for a thief to open more accounts. The company you call must tell the other companies.
Equifax 1-800-525-6285 in U.S., or 1-800-465-7166 in Canada
TransUnion 1-800-680-7289 in U.S., or 1-800-663-9980 in Canada except in Quebec (1-877-713-3393 for Quebec residents)
to repair your credit by sending this report to the three credit reporting companies, asking them to block the disputed information on your credit reports. For sample letters, search “disputing errors with credit reporting companies” at www.consumer.ftc.gov.Experian 1-888-397-3742 in U.S., no longer in Canada
3. Order free credit reports from each of the companies and review them carefully. In the U.S., go to: www.AnnualCreditReport.com or in Canada learn how to get free credit reports by mail at:
If you know which account has been tampered with, contact that company’s Fraud Department and follow up in writing. If your social number has been used, call the Social Security fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 for the U.S., or for your Social Insurance Number inform the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
4. Create an Identity Theft Report. Follow instructions at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov to complete an affidavit. Print two copies of the affidavit and give one to your local police department or the police department where the theft occurred. The police report and the affidavit make up an Identity Theft Report. In Canada, go to www.antifraudcentre.ca and click on “Report It.”
5. Begin to repair your credit by sending this report to the three credit reporting companies, asking them to block the disputed information on your credit reports. For sample letters, search “disputing errors with credit reporting companies” at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
Reprinted from: Carol A. Kilgore
RE/MAx Excellence | 702-595-4636
Vegashmsel@aol.com | http://www.carolkilgore.com/
Pic credit; http://www.picserver.org/i/identity-theft.html
Rhonda A. Mannes,