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What should I do if I become a victim of identity theft?

What should I do if I learn from my consumer credit report that someone has stolen my identity and is impersonating me?
Review Your Credit Reports Regularly

If your identity has been stolen, regularly review your consumer credit reports to detect any suspicious activity. You are entitled to free credit reports, one from each of the three large credit reporting agencies within a 12 month period. If you are a victim and place a 90-day fraud alert on your accounts, you are entitled to 1 more free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. If you place a 7-year fraud alert on your accounts, you are entitled to 2 more free credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus. We recommend that you space out the timing of your request for your credit reports over the 12-month period. For example, request a credit report from TransUnion today, another from Experian in about 4 months, and another from Equifax in 8 months or so.

Inform Others

For a comprehensive list of steps you can take as an identity theft victim which includes informing government agencies, businesses and the credit bureaus about your identity theft situation, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (a nonprofit organization) provides more in-depth information at: http://www.privacyrights.org/

Consider a Security Freeze or Fraud Alert

After having followed those steps, you will need to decide how to protect your credit report so others cannot use your personal information to open new credit accounts in your name. The following is a list of choices that you can choose based on the risk you want in your life. These options are designed to limit or fully prevent a third person from opening new credit accounts (mortgages, cell phones, utilities, car loans, etc.) in your name.

Security Freezes

  • This option effectively prevents third parties from fraudulently opening credit in your name.
  • A security freeze can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not issue new credit or loans to an individual without first reviewing his or her credit report or credit score. If an individual’s credit file is frozen and an imposter applies for credit in that individual’s name, a creditor would deny the imposter’s application, preventing an instance of identity theft.
  • When a consumer initially activates the security freeze, the credit bureau will issue a unique PIN to the consumer that can be used to “thaw” or lift the security freeze for a particular creditor or specific amount of time.
  • For more information and to find out if your state offers this option, go to: Our Security Freeze Protection Page

Fraud Alerts and Blocking information on your credit report

  • How it works: The credit reporting agencies must include an “alert” on your file for potential creditors to see so they know you are a victim or someone who suspects being a victim. To place it, you must contact only one of the three major credit reporting agencies. That one will inform the others.
  • There are two types of Fraud Alerts: the 90-day and 7 year Fraud Alerts.
  • The 90-day fraud alert is for those who suspect that they are victims of identity theft. You are also entitled to 1 free credit report from each of the three main credit reporting agencies.
  • The 7-year fraud alert is available for identity theft victims only. For 5 years your name will automatically be removed from telephone and mailing lists. You are entitled to 2 free credit reports from each of the credit reporting agencies in the 12 month period following placing the security alert.
  • Fraud Alerts limit the likelihood of someone being able to fraudulently open credit in your name.
  • Problem: Creditors can still gain access to your credit report, and new accounts may still be opened.
  • To learn more about placing fraud alerts and blocking information click here


To protect yourself further by removing your name from mailing lists, pre-approved credit offers among other lists, see below:

– To stop prescreened credit card offers, call toll free: 888-567-8688
– To get off many lists for marketing mail, calls and email:

Here is the mailing form to get off the lists for mail and calls.

For information on the federal “Do Not Call” list to avoid telemarketer calls, see: https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx

Other useful information for identity theft victims