Remedying Fraud and Identity Theft

If you find what appears to be fraud or identity theft, don’t panic. Federal and state law provides consumers with powerful tools to remedy the problem. Your financial institutions and law enforcement also are key to the recovery process.

Immediate Steps

Contact Your Financial Institution and Other Creditors

Your financial institution can help you determine if identity theft has occurred and help you fix the problem. You can limit damage to your finances and reputation by acting quickly.

Click here for a list of ITAC member companies and their fraud hotlines.

Don’t be insulted if your financial institution or other companies ask you to sign an affidavit. Remember, fraud investigators encounter con artists every day - as well as honest customers like you - and it’s their job to be suspicious.

Close Accounts
Close accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

Report the Crime to Law Enforcement
Reporting the fraud or identity theft to law enforcement can be crucial to recovery because many creditors and financial institutions require you to document the facts and agree to cooperate in investigating the crime before agreeing to reimburse you.

And, having a police report can help you down the road if you have to prove that you are really the victim and not the crook.

The International Association of Chiefs of police also recommends you report the crime to federal law enforcement. Visit to find your local office of the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Fraud Alert
A fraud alert can help prevent an identity thief from opening more accounts in your name. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a fraud alert should be used as a defensive action when someone has either already become a victim of identity theft, or has logical reason to believe they will become a victim (if, for example, a wallet has been lost or stolen). To place a fraud alert, contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies. You need to contact only one of the three companies to place an alert–that company will contact the other two.

(800) 525-6285
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

(888) 397-3742
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013-9701

(800) 680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Division,
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Next Steps

  • Checking Accounts. Your credit report does not show checking accounts opened in your name by the identity thief or fraud in your existing checking account. If you think an identity thief has tampered with your bank accounts, checks or ATM card, contact the financial institution and, if fraud has occurred, close the account immediately.
  • Social Security Number. If you believe someone is using your SSN to apply for a job or to work, contact the Social Security Administration hotline at (800) 269-0271. To verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your SSN, and to request a copy of your Social Security Statement, call (800) 772-1213.
  • Driver's License. If you suspect that your name or social security number was used by an identity thief to get a driver's license or a non-driver's ID card, contact your Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Stolen Mail. Often criminals change the address on your accounts or steal your mail to get new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers or tax information. Contact your local post office for the phone number for the nearest postal inspection service office or visit the U. S. Postal Inspection Service website.
Taking Charge

The Federal Trade Commission has made it easier for identity theft victims to organize their case and resolve the crime. Taking Charge: What to do if your Identity is Stolen offers step-by-step advice on how to minimize the damage done by identity thieves.

Immediate Steps

Next Steps

Sample Letters and Forms



Copyright © 2013    ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, is the national advocate for identity theft victims and a leading voice on identity policy. Millions of consumers have access to the ITAC victim assistance service through our members - the financial services companies who support ITAC and offer it as a free service for their customers. ITAC is dedicated to protecting all consumers through education, research and the criminal prosecution of identity crime.