When someone uses your name and personal information to commit fraud, it's a crime. The problem is you may not know that your identity or credit information has been stolen until you get credit card bills for credit cards you didn't open, charges on your credit card(s) you didn't authorize or a bad credit report with debits you never knew you had.
Here are some steps to take when discovering you are a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud:
Contact the Federal Trade Commission: 1-877-ID THEFT (438-4338), www.consumer.gov/idtheft, to report Identity Theft and to learn of ways to restore your credit.
Contact the Social Security Administration: 1-800-269-0271, www.ssa.gov, if it appears someone is using your social security number.
Contact the Fraud Department of all three major Credit-Reporting Bureaus:
P.O. Box 9530
Allen TX 75013
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Contact creditors for any accounts tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Contact your local Police Department to file a report. Having a police report will help prove your case to creditors and with PennDOT if you apply for a new driver's license number.
Contact the U.S. Postal Inspectors if any of your mail was stolen or you believe that someone fraudulently changed your address. Telephone: 215-895-8450. E-mail: www.usps.gov/postalinspectors
If you discover an identity theft has changed the billing address on your account(s), close the account(s) and when you open a new account, ask that it be password protected.
You may also request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report. This will signal a credit grantor that no credit should be issued without contacting you by telephone anytime a new account is being requested.
The web site www.identitytheft.org offers for sale a step by step guide on how to regain credit, written by a victim and attorney, Mari J. Frank, entitled: "From Victim to Victor" (Porpoise Press, 1998). You will also find other information for victims of identity theft.