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How to report identity theft?

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, and if your personal or financial information is being used by a person or persons unknown to you, then you should take the following steps to report this type of crime immediately.

How does identity theft happen?

Identity theft can happen if you lose your wallet or purse, or if these are stolen. It can also happen when people steal your personal information by going into your account on the internet. For these reasons, it is important to keep this information as secure as possible and not to advertise or use easy-to-discover passwords or pin numbers.

Notify the authorities

If you suspect that identity theft has taken place, you should immediately notify the police. File a report of the identity theft with as many details as possible. You should receive a copy of this report or at least get the report's number. The credit card companies you deal with will need this report or its number for any claims you make.

Other agencies to inform

Depending on your location or the place where your personal details are stored, you may wish to inform the Federal Trade Commission. This is a government agency set up to protect consumers in the USA. An equivalent service in the UK is Action Fraud - these authorities will provide you with the necessary support, information and preventative measures should you become a victim of identity theft.

Banks and credit cards

Notify your bank(s) to freeze your accounts to avoid any unauthorized withdrawals from your account(s). Credit card companies should be informed with the details of lost cards or any payments from your account that you do not recognize. Make sure that you inform them in writing. Also, keep a record of all calls and who you spoke to and when.

Notify other financial institutions

Although your other accounts may not be compromised, it is recommended that you make your other financial institutions aware of your identity theft. In case your problem is more widespread than you originally thought, they can place a fraud alert on your accounts and monitor for unusual activity.

Contact the credit bureaus

In the US, the three main agencies that deal with your credit are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. They will deal with such things as your free credit report, credit checks and your free credit score. Unless they are notified, your future credit rating could be greatly affected. In the UK the main agencies are Equifax, Experian and Callcredit.

Other less obvious items that may be stolen.

Some of the items you may not notice immediately that could be a part of any identity theft are your passport, driving license, a new mobile phone registered in your name, your not receiving any mail, all these could be indicators of your identity being stolen.

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