Perpetrators of identity theft are most commonly interested in stealing money. By assuming your name and gaining access to your bank account and credit cards, or using your information to apply for a line of credit, the criminal gets money while leaving you with the bill. When you've been a victim of identity theft, you have the right to sue not only the person who took advantage of you, but any institution that was involved. Bear in mind that it is very difficult to find the thief.
Call the three credit reporting companies' fraudulent activity departments as soon as you suspect identity theft. Instruct them to add a fraud alert to your file so that you must be contacted before any new activity is added. The phone numbers are:
TransUnion: 800-680-7289 Equifax: 800-525-6285 Experian: 888-397-3742
Contact the police department to file a criminal report. Use the local police department where the event took place. For instance, if money was stolen from a bank you use in another town, file the report in that town. Get a copy of the police report so that you can use the case number for future reference.
Get in touch with the security department of the financial institution where the fraud has taken place. Close whatever account was illegally opened and freeze all spending associated with it. Give the institution the police report number and let it know that you are pursuing legal action.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission's ID Theft Clearinghouse at 877-438-4338 and report the identity theft. The FTC will help you decide what is the best step to take next. You should also complete the Identity Theft Affidavit (see References) to establish a federal record of the crime.
Get an attorney. You'll be going up against big, financial institutions as well as a calculating criminal. You'll need an experienced lawyer to protect your interests and defend you against paying debts you didn't incur and recover losses you've suffered.
- Check your accounts at least monthly to ensure there has been no fradulent activity.