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From the Experts at

What Should I Do If I'm a Victim Of Identity Theft

December 5, 2013 by Gerri Detweiler

What Should I Do If I'm a Victim of Identity Theft

If you've been hit by identity theft, it's important that you act immediately to prevent further damage to your finances. Here's what to do:

Get on the phone

Call the bank, lender, card company, utility or merchant with whom you have the affected account. Fast action stops thieves from racking up more charges in your name.

Write down everything

Grab a notebook. Log every call and contact you make. Note the date, time and length of the call, who you spoke with, what you said and what they said. File copies of documents. Use certified mail for all letters.

Find allies and resources

Call your insurance agent, bank or credit union and the human resources department at work to ask what access you may have to free or low-cost damage-control programs for identity theft victims.

Reset your passwords

Make your passwords strong, which means they should include upper- and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols.

Consider a "security freeze"

This denies access to your credit to all but your current creditors. It's not always recommended. Read "When Freezing Your Credit is a Bad Idea" for the pros and cons.

Monitor your credit

Order your free credit reports. Get a report each from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. (As a fraud victim, you are entitled to these reports in addition to your free annual credit reports.) Comb them for errors and follow each company's instructions for disputing an error. If you want help monitoring your credit, subscribe to a free service, like's Credit Report Card, which provides two free credit scores and a free monthly credit check. Falling credit scores can alert you to fraudulent activity.

Make a police report

Call the police. Even if they can't catch the thieves immediately, reporting the crime could help make a case against the thieves down the line. And you may need a police report to prove that charges made in your name are not yours.

Dial 877-438-4338

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) makes identity theft a priority. While it doesn't investigate individual cases, it collects information on crimes and helps police in their investigations.

Be patient

It might be tough to hear when you're the stressed-out victim of identity theft, but resolving this problem could take some time and work on your part. Take a big breath once in a while and keep forging ahead.

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Meet Our Experts

Gerri Detweiler Gerri Detweiler is's Director of Consumer Education. She focuses on helping people understand their credit and debt, and writes about those issues, as well as financial legislation, budgeting, debt recovery and savings strategies. She is also the co-author of Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights, and Reduce Stress: Real-Life Solutions for Solving Your Credit Crisis as well as host of

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