Identity theft occurs when someone takes or uses another person’s personal identifying information such as their name, social security number, driver’s license, or financial account information. If you have been the victim of identity theft, it could mean someone has used your name to:
- Make purchases
- Get credit cards
- Rent an apartment
- Obtain utilities without your permission
- Purchase a vehicle
- Get a loan
- Receive medical services
- Re-route your mail
- Impersonate you during contact with law enforcement
Other Forms of ID Theft
Identity theft may also include someone writing checks using your name or financial account information. Your information could be wrongfully obtained if your checkbook is stolen or if someone obtained access to your checking account electronically. Use of an ATM card or credit card that you did not approve is also identity theft. In some cases, identity theft occurs within families of children, seniors, and domestic violence survivors.
The Impact of Being a Victim
Being the victim of an identity theft can be a complicated and frustrating time in your life. Even if you are able to resolve a financial identity theft issue with your bank, this use of your name and credit history can result in you getting collection letters for things you did not purchase. It can also result in unfavorable entries on your credit report, causing you problems in getting credit or paying a higher interest rate.
What You Can Do
- File an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission to obtain an Identity Theft Affidavit.
- File a report with your local county or city law enforcement agency. You do not need to know the name of the person who used your identity. You can show the police the information you have such as debt collection letters or other indications that you are the victim of this crime.
- Notify all 3 credit reporting agencies and every debt collector that has contacted you. The Federal Trade Commission has created letters that consumers can use to notify a debt collector or credit bureau of the theft of your identity. To use the letters, you must first report the crime of identity theft to your local city or county law enforcement agency. View the Taking Charge: What to Do if Your Identity Is Stolen (PDF) for more information.
- Fill out an Identity Theft Victim Packet and Sample Dispute Letters
You can also visit the National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network to learn more.