ID Theft: When Bad Things
Happen to Your Good Name
Identity Theft Occurs
What You Can Do Today
The Doors and Windows Are Locked, but
. . .
to Share Personal Information — or
You’re a Victim
Department of Motor Vehicles
Your First Four Steps
Your Course of Action
ATM Cards, Debit Cards and Electronic
Fake Driver’s License
Social Security Number Theft and Misuse
Instructions for Completing
the ID Theft Affidavit
ID Theft Affidavit
My purse was stolen
in December 1990. In February 1991, I started
getting notices of bounced checks. About
a year later, I received information that
someone using my identity had defaulted
on a number of lease agreements and bought
a car. In 1997, I learned that someone had
been working under my Social Security number
for a number of years. A man had been arrested
and used my SSN on his arrest sheet. There’s
a hit in the FBI computers for my SSN with
a different name and gender. I can’t
get credit because of this situation. I
was denied a mortgage loan, employment,
credit cards, and medical care for my children.
I’ve even had auto insurance denied,
medical insurance and tuition assistance
a consumer complaint to the FTC, January
In the course of a busy day, you may write
a check at the grocery store, charge tickets
to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax
returns, call home on your cell phone, order
new checks or apply for a credit card. Chances
are you don’t give these everyday
transactions a second thought. But someone
The 1990’s spawned a new variety of
crooks called identity thieves. Their stock
in trade is your everyday transaction. Each
transaction requires you to share personal
information: your bank and credit card account
numbers; your income; your Social Security
number (SSN); or your name, address and
phone numbers. An identity thief co-opts
some piece of your personal information
and appropriates it without your knowledge
to commit fraud or theft. An all-too-common
example is when an identity thief uses your
personal information to open a credit card
account in your name.
Identity theft is a serious
crime. People whose identities have been
stolen can spend months or years —
and thousands of dollars — cleaning
up the mess the thieves have made of their
good name and credit record. In the meantime,
victims may lose job opportunities, be refused
loans for education, housing, cars, or even
be arrested for crimes they didn’t
commit. Humiliation, anger and frustration
are common feelings victims experience as
they navigate the arduous process of reclaiming
Perhaps you’ve received
your first call from a collections agent
demanding payment on a loan you never took
out — for a car you never bought.
Maybe you’ve already spent a significant
amount of time and money calling financial
institutions, canceling accounts, struggling
to regain your good name and credit. Or
maybe your wallet’s been stolen, or
you’ve just heard about identity theft
for the first time on the nightly news,
and you’d like to know more about
protecting yourself from this devastating
crime. This booklet is for you.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), working
with other government agencies and organizations,
has produced this booklet to help you guard
against and recover from identity theft.
Can you completely prevent identity theft
from occurring? Probably not, especially
if someone is determined to commit the crime.
But you can minimize your risk by managing
your personal information wisely and cautiously.
If you’ve been a
victim of identity theft, call the FTC’s
Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT
(438-4338). Counselors will take
your complaint and advise you on how to
deal with the credit-related problems that
could result. In addition, the FTC, in conjunction
with banks, credit grantors and consumer
advocates, has developed the ID Theft Affidavit
to help victims of ID theft restore their
good names. The ID Theft Affidavit, a form
that can be used to report information to
many organizations, simplifies the process
of disputing charges with companies where
a new account was opened in your name. For
a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit, scroll
down to the Appendix
or visit the ID Theft Web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
The Hotline and Web site
give you one place to report the theft to
the federal government and receive helpful
information. The FTC puts your information
into a secure consumer fraud database where
it can be used to help other law enforcement
agencies and private entities in their investigations
and victim assistance.
Identity Theft Occurs
My wallet was stolen
in December 1998. There’s been no
end to the problems I’ve faced since
then. The thieves used my identity to write
checks, use a debit card, open a bank account
with a line of credit, open credit accounts
with several stores, obtain cell phones
and run up huge bills, print fraudulent
checks on a personal computer bearing my
name, and more. I’ve spent the last
two years trying to repair my credit report
(a very frustrating process) and have suffered
the ill effects of having a marred credit
history. I’ve recently been denied
a student loan because of inaccurate
information on my credit report.
a consumer complaint to the FTC, February
Despite your best efforts
to manage the flow of your personal information
or to keep it to yourself, skilled identity
thieves may use a variety of methods —
low- and hi-tech — to gain access
to your data. Here are some of the ways
imposters can get your personal information
and take over your identity.
identity thieves get
your personal information:
- They steal wallets and purses containing
your identification and credit and bank
- They steal your mail, including your
bank and credit card statements, pre-approved
credit offers, new checks, and tax information.
- They complete a “change of address
form” to divert your mail to another
- They rummage through your trash, or
the trash of businesses, for personal
data in a practice known as “dumpster
- They fraudulently obtain your credit
report by posing as a landlord, employer
or someone else who may have a legitimate
need for, and legal right to, the information.
- They find personal information in your
- They use personal information you share
on the Internet.
- They scam you, often through email,
by posing as legitimate companies or government
agencies you do business with.
- They get your information from the
workplace in a practice known as “business
record theft” by: stealing files
out of offices where you’re a customer,
employee, patient or student; bribing
an employee who has access to your files;
or “hacking” into electronic
How identity thieves
use your personal
- They call your credit card issuer and,
pretending to be you, ask to change the
mailing address on your credit card account.
The imposter then runs up charges on your
account. Because your bills are being
sent to the new address, it may take some
time before you realize there’s
- They open a new credit card account,
using your name, date of birth and SSN.
When they use the credit card and don’t
pay the bills, the delinquent account
is reported on your credit report.
- They establish phone or wireless service
in your name.
- They open a bank account in your name
and write bad checks on that account.
- They file for bankruptcy under your
name to avoid paying debts they’ve
incurred under your name, or to avoid
- They counterfeit checks or debit cards,
and drain your bank account.
- They buy cars by taking out auto loans
in your name.
- They give your name to the police during
an arrest. If they’re released from
police custody, but don’t show up
for their court date, an arrest warrant
is issued in your name.
I’m tired of
the hours I’ve spent on the phone
and all the faxing I’ve had to do.
When will it be over?
a consumer complaint to the FTC, March 13,
is Sunday so we won’t get any notices,
but I’m not looking forward to Monday’s
a consumer complaint to the FTC, November
While you probably can’t
prevent identity theft entirely, you can
minimize your risk. By managing your personal
information wisely, cautiously and with
an awareness of the issue, you can help
guard against identity theft.
What You Can Do Today
- Order a copy of your credit
report from each of the three major credit
bureaus. Your credit report contains
information on where you work and live,
the credit accounts that have been opened
in your name, how you pay your bills and
whether you’ve been sued, arrested
or filed for bankruptcy. Make sure it’s
accurate and includes only those activities
you’ve authorized. By law, credit
bureaus can charge you no more than $9
for a copy of your credit report. See
“Credit Reports,” below, for
details about removing fraudulent and
inaccurate information from your credit
- Place passwords on your credit
card, bank and phone accounts.
Avoid using easily available information
like your mother’s maiden name,
your birth date, the last four digits
of your SSN or your phone number, or a
series of consecutive numbers. When opening
new accounts, you may find that many businesses
still have a line on their applications
for your mother’s maiden name. Use
a password instead.
- Secure personal information
in your home, especially if you
have roommates, employ outside help or
are having service work done in your home.
- Ask about information security
procedures in your workplace.
Find out who has access to your personal
information and verify that records are
kept in a secure location. Ask about the
disposal procedures for those records
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111
To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285/
TDD 800-255-0056 and write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN
To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN
TDD 800-972-0322 and write:
P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX 75013
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213
To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289/
TDD 877-553-7803; fax: 714-447-6034;
or write: Fraud Victim Assistance
Department, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton,
- Order a copy of your credit report
from each of the three major credit bureaus
once a year. By checking your report on
a regular basis you can catch mistakes
and fraud before they wreak havoc on your
personal finances. Don’t underestimate
the importance of this step. One of the
most common ways that consumers find out
that they’re victims of identity
theft is when they try to make a major
purchase, like a house or a car. The deal
can be lost or delayed while the credit
report mess is straightened out. Knowing
what’s in your credit report allows
you to fix problems before they jeopardize
a major financial transaction.
- Don’t give out personal information
on the phone, through the mail or over
the Internet unless you’ve initiated
the contact or are sure you know who you’re
dealing with. Identity thieves may pose
as representatives of banks, Internet
service providers (ISPs) and even government
agencies to get you to reveal your SSN,
mother’s maiden name, account numbers
and other identifying information. Before
you share any personal information, confirm
that you are dealing with a legitimate
organization. You can check the organization’s
Web site as many companies post scam alerts
when their name is used improperly, or
you can call customer service using the
number listed on your account statement
or in the telephone book.
- Guard your mail and trash from theft.
Deposit outgoing mail
in post office collection boxes or at
your local post office, rather than
in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove
mail from your mailbox. If you’re
planning to be away from home and can’t
pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal
Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request
a vacation hold. The Postal Service
will hold your mail at your local post
office until you can pick it up or are
home to receive it.
To thwart an identity
thief who may pick through your trash
or recycling bins to capture your personal
information, tear or shred your charge
receipts, copies of credit applications,
insurance forms, physician statements,
checks and bank statements, expired
charge cards that you’re discarding,
and credit offers you get in the mail.
- Before revealing any personally identifying
information (for example, on an application),
find out how it will be used and secured,
and whether it will be shared with others.
Ask if you have a choice about the use
of your information. Can you choose to
have it kept confidential?
- Don’t carry your SSN card; leave
it in a secure place.
- Give your SSN only when absolutely
necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers
when possible. If your state uses your
SSN as your driver’s license number,
ask to substitute another number.
- Carry only the identification information
and the number of credit and debit cards
that you’ll actually need.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles.
Follow up with creditors if your bills
don’t arrive on time. A missing
credit card bill could mean an identity
thief has taken over your account and
changed your billing address to cover
- Be wary of promotional scams. Identity
thieves may use phony offers to get you
to give them your personal information.
- Keep your purse or wallet in a safe
place at work.
SPECIAL WORD ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY
Your employer and financial institution
will likely need your SSN for wage
and tax reporting purposes. Other
businesses may ask you for your SSN
to do a credit check, like when you
apply for a loan, rent an apartment,
or sign up for utilities. Sometimes,
however, they simply want your SSN
for general record keeping. You don’t
have to give a business your SSN just
because they ask for it. If someone
asks for your SSN, ask the following
- Why do you need my SSN?
- How will my SSN be used?
- What law requires me to give
you my SSN?
- What will happen if I don’t
give you my SSN?
Sometimes a business
may not provide you with the service
or benefit you’re seeking if
you don’t provide your SSN.
Getting answers to these questions
will help you decide whether you want
to share your SSN with the business.
Remember — the decision is yours.
The Doors and Windows
Are Locked, but . . .
You may be careful about
locking your doors and windows, and keeping
your personal papers in a secure place.
But, depending on what you use your personal
computer for, an identity thief may not
need to set foot in your house to steal
your personal information. SSNs, financial
records, tax returns, birth dates, and bank
account numbers may be stored in your computer
— a goldmine to an identity thief.
The following tips can help you keep your
computer and your personal information safe.
- Update your virus protection software
regularly, or when a new virus alert is
announced. Computer viruses can have a
variety of damaging effects, including
introducing program code that causes your
computer to send out files or other stored
information. Be on the alert for security
repairs and patches that you can download
from your operating system’s Web
- Do not download files sent to you by
strangers or click on hyperlinks from
people you don’t know. Opening a
file could expose your system to a computer
virus or a program that could hijack your
- Use a firewall program, especially
if you use a high-speed Internet connection
like cable, DSL or T-1, which leaves your
computer connected to the Internet 24
hours a day. The firewall program will
allow you to stop uninvited guests from
accessing your computer. Without it, hackers
can take over your computer and access
your personal information stored on it
or use it to commit other crimes.
- Use a secure browser — software
that encrypts or scrambles information
you send over the Internet — to
guard the security of your online transactions.
Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date
encryption capabilities by using the latest
version available from the manufacturer.
You also can download some browsers for
free over the Internet. When submitting
information, look for the “lock”
icon on the browser’s status bar
to be sure your information is secure
- Try not to store financial information
on your laptop unless absolutely necessary.
If you do, use a strong password —
a combination of letters (upper and lowers
case), numbers and symbols. Don’t
use an automatic log-in feature which
saves your user name and password so you
don’t have to enter them each time
you log-in or enter a site. And always
log off when you’re finished. That
way, if your laptop gets stolen, it’s
harder for the thief to access your personal
- Before you dispose of a computer, delete
personal information. Deleting files using
the keyboard or mouse commands may not
be enough because the files may stay on
the computer’s hard drive, where
they may be easily retrieved. Use a “wipe”
utility program to overwrite the entire
hard drive. It makes the files unrecoverable.
For more information, see Clearing
Information From Your Computer’s
Hard Drive (www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oig/hq/harddrive.pdf)
from the National Aeronautics and Space
- Look for Web site privacy policies.
They answer questions about maintaining
accuracy, access, security, and control
of personal information collected by the
site, as well as how information will
be used, and whether it will be provided
to third parties. If you don’t see
For more information,
see Site-Seeing on the Internet: A Traveler’s
Guide to Cyberspace from the FTC at
to Share Your Personal Information —
In November 2000,
I found out that someone used my information
to obtain a cell phone. Since then, I’ve
been living a nightmare. My credit report
is a mess. It’s a full-time job to
investigate and correct the information.
a consumer complaint to the FTC, April 3,
Our economy generates
an enormous amount of data. Most users of
that information are from honest businesses
— getting and giving legitimate information.
Despite the benefits of the information
age, some consumers may want to limit the
amount of personal information they share.
And they can: More organizations are offering
people choices about how their personal
information is used. For example, many feature
an “opt-out” choice that limits
the information shared with others or used
for promotional purposes. When you “opt-out,”
you may cut down on the number of unsolicited
telemarketing calls, promotional mail and
spam emails that you receive. Learn more
about the options you have for protecting
your personal information by contacting
the following organizations.
If you receive pre-screened
credit card offers in the mail (namely,
those based upon your credit data), but
don’t tear them up after you decide
you don’t want to accept the offer,
identity thieves could retrieve the offers
for their own use without your knowledge.
To opt out of receiving
pre-screened credit card offers, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT
(1-888-567- 8688). The three major credit
bureaus use the same toll-free number to
let consumers choose to not receive pre-screened
In addition, you can notify
the three major credit bureaus that you
do not want personal information about you
shared for promotional purposes. To ask
the three major credit bureaus not to share
your personal information, write to:
PO Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013
Marketing List Opt Out
PO Box 97328
Jackson, MS 39288-7328
Department of Motor
The Drivers Privacy Protection
Act forbids states from distributing personal
information to direct marketers. It does
allow for the sharing of personal information
with law enforcement officials, courts,
government agencies, private investigators,
insurance underwriters and similar businesses.
Check with your state DMV to learn more,
or visit www.ftc.gov/privacy/protect.htm#Motor.
The federal government
has created the National Do Not Call Registry
— the free, easy way to reduce the
telemarketing calls you get at home. To
register, or to get information, visit www.donotcall.gov,
or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you
want to register. You will receive fewer
telemarketing calls within three months
of registering your number. It will stay
in the registry for five years or until
it is disconnected or you take it off the
registry. After five years, you will be
able to renew your registration.
The Direct Marketing Association’s
(DMA) Mail Preference Service lets you “opt-
out” of receiving direct mail marketing
from many national companies for five years.
When you register with this service, your
name will be put on a “delete”
file and made available to direct-mail marketers.
However, your registration will not stop
mailings from organizations that are not
registered with the DMA’s Mail Preference
Service. To register with DMA, send your
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
Or register online at
The DMA also has an EMail
Preference Service to help you reduce unsolicited
commercial emails. To “opt-out”
of receiving unsolicited commercial email,
use DMA’s online form at www.dmaconsumers.org/offemaillist.html.
Your online request will be effective for
You’re a Victim
Sometimes an identity
thief can strike even if you’ve been
very careful about keeping your personal
information to yourself. If you suspect
that your personal information has been
hijacked and misappropriated to commit fraud
or theft, take action immediately, and keep
a record of your conversations and correspondence.
You may want to use the form, “Chart
Your Course of Action,” below.
Exactly which steps you should take to protect
yourself depends on your circumstances and
how your identity has been misused. However,
four basic actions are appropriate in almost
Your First Four
1. Place a fraud alert
on your credit reports and review your credit
Call the toll-free fraud
number of any one of the three major credit
bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit
report. This can help prevent an identity
thief from opening additional accounts in
your name. As soon as the credit bureau
confirms your fraud alert, the other two
credit bureaus will automatically be notified
to place fraud alerts on your credit report,
and all three reports will be sent to you
free of charge.
- Equifax — To
report fraud, call: 1-800-525-6285, and
write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- Experian — To
report fraud, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742),
and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion —
To report fraud, call: 1-800-680-7289,
and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division,
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Once you receive your
reports, review them carefully. Look for
inquiries you didn’t initiate, accounts
you didn’t open, and unexplained debts
on your true accounts. Where “inquiries”
appear from the company(ies) that opened
the fraudulent account(s), request that
these “inquiries” be removed
from your report. (See “Credit Reports”
for more information.) You also should check
that information such as your SSN, address(es),
name or initial, and employers are correct.
Inaccuracies in this information also may
be due to typographical errors. Nevertheless,
whether the inaccuracies are due to fraud
or error, you should notify the credit bureau
as soon as possible by telephone and in
writing. You should continue to check your
reports periodically, especially in the
first year after you’ve discovered
the theft, to make sure no new fraudulent
activity has occurred. The automated “one-call”
fraud alert process only works for the initial
placement of your fraud alert. Orders for
additional credit reports or renewals of
your fraud alerts must be made separately
at each of the three major credit bureaus.
2. Close any accounts
that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Credit accounts include all accounts with
banks, credit card companies and other lenders,
and phone companies, utilities, ISPs, and
other service providers.
If you’re closing
existing accounts and opening new ones,
use new Personal Identification Numbers
(PINs) and passwords.
If there are fraudulent
charges or debits, ask the company about
the following forms for disputing those
- For new unauthorized accounts, ask
if the company accepts the ID Theft Affidavit
(available at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/affidavit.pdf
or in the Appendix
below). If they don’t, ask the representative
to send you the company’s fraud
- For your existing accounts, ask the
representative to send you the company’s
fraud dispute forms.
- If your ATM card has been lost, stolen
or otherwise compromised, cancel the card
as soon as you can. Get a new card with
a new PIN.
If your checks have been
stolen or misused, close the account and
ask your bank to notify the appropriate
check verification service. While no federal
law limits your losses if someone steals
your checks and forges your signature, state
laws may protect you. Most states hold the
bank responsible for losses from a forged
check, but they also require you to take
reasonable care of your account. For example,
you may be held responsible for the forgery
if you fail to notify the bank in a timely
way that a check was lost or stolen. Contact
your state banking or consumer protection
agency for more information.
You also should contact
these major check verification companies.
Ask that retailers who use their databases
not accept your checks.
— 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188
Check Services — 1-800-631-9656
Call SCAN (1-800-262-7771)
to find out if the identity thief has been
passing bad checks in your name.
3. File a report
with your local police or the police in
the community where the identity theft took
Keep a copy of the report. You may need
it to validate your claims to creditors.
If you can’t get a copy, at least
get the report number.
4. File a complaint
with the FTC.
By sharing your identity
theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide
important information that can help law
enforcement officials track down identity
thieves and stop them. The FTC also can
refer victim complaints to other appropriate
government agencies and companies for further
action. The FTC enters the information you
provide into our secure database.
To file a complaint or
to learn more about the FTC’s Privacy
Policy, visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
If you don’t have access to the Internet,
you can call the FTC’s Identity Theft
Hotline: toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338);
TDD: 202-326-2502; or write:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade
Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20580.
on Filing a Police Report
- Provide documentation.
Furnish as much documentation as
you can to prove your case. Debt
collection letters, credit reports,
your notarized ID Theft Affidavit,
and other evidence of fraudulent
activity can help the police file
a complete report.
- Be persistent.
Local authorities may tell you that
they can’t take a report.
Stress the importance of a police
report; many creditors require one
to resolve your dispute. Also remind
them that under their voluntary
“Police Report Initiative,”
credit bureaus will automatically
block the fraudulent accounts and
bad debts from appearing on your
credit report, but only
if you can give them a
copy of the police report. If you
can’t get the local police
to take a report, try your county
police. If that doesn’t work,
try your state police.
If you’re told that identity
theft is not a crime under your
state law, ask to file a Miscellaneous
Incident Report instead. See the
list of state laws below.
- Be a motivating force.
Ask your police department to search
the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel
database for other complaints in
your community. You may not be the
first or only victim of this identity
thief. If there is a pattern of
cases, local authorities may give
your case more consideration.
why it’s also important
to file a complaint with the FTC.
Law enforcement agencies use complaints
filed with the FTC to aggregate
cases, spot patterns, and track
growth in identity theft. This
information can then be used to
improve investigations and victim
Organizing Your Case
Accurate and complete
records will greatly improve your
chances of resolving your identity
- Follow up in writing with all
contacts you’ve made on the
phone or in person. Use certified
mail, return receipt requested.
- Keep copies of all correspondence
or forms you send.
- Write down the name of anyone
you talk to, what he or she told
you, and the date the conversation
occurred. Use Chart
Your Course of Action, below,
to help you.
- Keep the originals of supporting
documentation, like police reports,
and letters to and from creditors;
send copies only.
- Set up a filing system for easy
access to your paperwork.
- Keep old files even if you believe
your case is closed. One of the
most difficult and annoying aspects
of identity theft is that errors
can reappear on your credit reports
or your information can be re-circulated.
Should this happen, you’ll
be glad you kept your files.
Chart Your Course of Action
form to record the steps you’ve taken
to report the fraudulent use of your identity.
Keep this list in a safe place for reference.
Bureaus — Report Fraud
Credit Card Issuers and Other Creditors
(Contact each creditor promptly to protect
your legal rights.)
Law Enforcement Authorities
— Report Identity Theft
|Federal Trade Commission
|Local Police Department
for a loan in November 2000 and was told
I had bad credit. I requested a credit report
in November 2000 and found all sorts of
crazy information on it. I’m single
but was listed as married. When I renewed
my driver’s license by mail, I was
surprised to find someone else’s face
on my license. This is a nightmare and requires
a large amount of my time.
a consumer complaint to the FTC, October
credit problems resulting from identity
theft can be time-consuming and frustrating,
the good news is that there are procedures
under federal laws for correcting credit
report and billing errors, and stopping
debt collectors from contacting you about
debts you don’t owe. Here is a brief
summary of your rights, and what to do to
clear up credit problems that result from
Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) establishes
procedures for correcting mistakes on your
credit report and requires that your report
be made available only for certain legitimate
FCRA, both the credit bureau and the organization
that provided the information to the credit
bureau (the “information provider”),
such as a bank or credit card company, are
responsible for correcting inaccurate or
incomplete information in your report. To
protect your rights under the law, contact
both the credit bureau and the information
provider. It’s very important to follow
the procedures outlined below. Otherwise
you won’t have any legal recourse
if you have a future dispute with the credit
bureau or an information provider about
inaccurate information that should be blocked
from your report.
the credit bureau and follow up in writing.
Tell them what information you believe is
inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals)
of documents that support your position.
If you don’t have any paperwork from
the creditor, send a copy of the police
report and the ID Theft Affidavit (in the
below) In addition to providing your complete
name and address, your letter should clearly
identify each item in your report that you
dispute, give the facts and explain why
you dispute the information, and request
deletion or correction. You may want to
enclose a copy of your report with circles
around the items in question. Your letter
may look something like the sample
below. Send your letter by certified mail,
return receipt requested, so you can document
what the credit bureau received and when.
Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.
bureau’s investigation must be completed
within 30 days (45 days if you provide additional
documents). If the credit bureau considers
your dispute frivolous (which may mean it
believes you didn’t provide enough
documentation to support your claim), it
must tell you so within five business days.
Otherwise, it must forward all relevant
documents you provide about the dispute
to the information provider. The information
provider then must investigate, review all
relevant information provided by the credit
bureau, and report the results to the credit
bureau. If the information provider finds
the disputed information to be inaccurate,
it must notify any nationwide credit bureau
to which it reports, so that the credit
bureau can correct this information in your
file. Note that:
- Disputed information that cannot be
verified must be deleted from your file.
- If your report contains erroneous information,
the credit bureau must correct it.
- If an item is incomplete, the credit
bureau must complete it. For example,
if your file shows that you have been
late making payments, but fails to show
that you are no longer delinquent, the
credit bureau must show that you’re
- If your file shows an account that
belongs to someone else, the credit bureau
must delete it.
investigation is complete, the credit bureau
must give you the written results and, if
the dispute results in a change, a free
copy of your report. If an item is changed
or removed, the credit bureau cannot put
the disputed information back in your file
unless the information provider verifies
its accuracy and completeness, and the credit
bureau gives you a written notice that includes
the name, address and phone number of the
If you ask,
the credit bureau must send notices of corrections
to anyone who received your report in the
past six months. Job applicants can have
a corrected copy of their report sent to
anyone who received a copy during the past
two years for employment purposes. If an
investigation does not resolve your dispute,
ask the credit bureau to include a 100-word
statement of the dispute in your file and
in future reports.
addition to writing to the credit bureau,
write to the creditor or other information
provider to tell them that you dispute an
item. Again, include copies (NOT originals)
of documents that support your position,
like your police report and the ID Theft
Affidavit. Many information providers specify
an address for disputes. If the information
provider then reports the disputed item(s)
to a credit bureau, it must include a notice
of your dispute. If you’re correct
that the disputed information is not inaccurate,
the information provider may not use it
information, see How to Dispute Credit
Report Errors and Fair Credit Reporting,
from the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
In most cases,
the Truth in Lending Act limits your liability
for unauthorized credit card charges to
$50 per card. The Fair Credit Billing Act
(FCBA) establishes procedures for resolving
billing errors on your credit card accounts.
This includes fraudulent charges on your
To take advantage
of the law’s consumer protections,
- write to the creditor at the address
given for “billing inquiries,”
not the address for sending your payments.
Include your name, address, account number
and a description of the fraudulent charge,
including the amount and date of the error.
Your letter may look something like the
- send your letter so that it reaches
the creditor within 60 days from when
the first bill containing the fraudulent
charge was mailed to you. If the address
on your account was changed by an identity
thief and you never received the bill,
your dispute letter still must reach the
creditor within 60 days of when the bill
would have been mailed to you. This is
why it’s so important to keep track
of your billing statements and immediately
follow up when your bills don’t
arrive on time.
letter by certified mail, return receipt
requested. This will be your proof of the
date the creditor received the letter. Include
copies (NOT originals) of sales slips or
other documents that support your position.
Keep a copy of your dispute letter.
must acknowledge your complaint in writing
within 30 days after receiving it, unless
the problem has been resolved. The creditor
must resolve the dispute within two billing
cycles (but not more than 90 days) after
receiving your letter.
information, see Fair Credit Billing
and Avoiding Credit and Charge Card
Fraud, from the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
The Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act prohibits debt collectors
from using unfair or deceptive practices
to collect overdue bills that a creditor
has forwarded for collection.
You can stop a debt collector
from contacting you by writing a letter
to the collection agency telling them to
stop. Once the debt collector receives your
letter, the company may not contact you
again — with two exceptions: they
can tell you there will be no further contact
and they can tell you that the debt collector
or the creditor intends to take some specific
A collector also may not
contact you if, within 30 days after you
receive the written notice, you send the
collection agency a letter stating you do
not owe the money.
Although your letter should stop the debt
collector’s calls and dunning notices,
it will not necessarily get rid of the debt
itself, which may still turn up on your
A collector can renew collection activities
if you’re sent proof of the debt.
So, along with your letter stating you don’t
owe the money, include copies of documents
that support your position.
If you’re a victim of identity theft,
include a copy (NOT the original) of the
police report. If you don’t have documentation
to support your position, be as specific
as possible about why the debt collector
The debt collector is responsible for sending
you proof that you’re wrong. For example,
if the debt in dispute originates from a
credit card you never applied for, ask for
the actual application containing the applicant’s
signature.You can then prove that it’s
not your signature on the application. In
many cases, the debt collector will not
send you any proof, but will instead return
the debt to the creditor.
For more information,
see Fair Debt Collection from the FTC at
ATM Cards, Debit Cards
and Electronic Fund Transfers
The Electronic Fund Transfer
Act provides consumer protections for transactions
involving an ATM or debit card or any other
electronic way to debit or credit an account.
It also limits your liability for unauthorized
electronic fund transfers.
It’s important to
report lost or stolen ATM and debit cards
immediately because the amount you can be
held responsible for depends on how
quickly you report the loss.
- If you report your ATM card lost or
stolen within two business days of discovering
the loss or theft, your losses are limited
- If you report your ATM card lost or
stolen after the two business days, but
within 60 days after a statement showing
an unauthorized electronic fund transfer,
you can be liable for up to $500 of what
a thief withdraws.
- If you wait more than 60 days, you
could lose all the money
that was taken from your account from
the end of the 60 days to the time you
reported your card missing.
The best way to protect
yourself in the event of an error or fraudulent
transaction is to call the financial institution
and follow up in writing — by certified
letter, return receipt requested —
so you can prove when the institution received
your letter. Keep a copy of the letter you
send for your records.
After receiving notification
about an error on your statement, the financial
institution generally has 10 business days
to investigate. The institution must tell
you the results of its investigation within
three business days after completing it
and must correct an error within one business
day after determining that the error has
occurred. If the institution needs more
time, it may take up to 45 days to complete
the investigation — but only if the
money in dispute is returned to your account
and you are notified promptly of the credit.
At the end of the investigation, if no error
has been found, the institution may take
the money back if it sends you a written
VISA and MasterCard voluntarily have agreed
to limit consumers’ liability for
unauthorized use of their debit cards in
most instances to $50 per card, no matter
how much time has elapsed since the discovery
of the loss or theft of the card.
For more information,
see Electronic Banking and Credit,
ATM and Debit Cards: What to Do If They’re
Lost or Stolen, two consumer publications
from the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
You’re a Victim, Not a Deadbeat
victims of other crimes, who generally
are treated with respect and sympathy,
identity theft victims often find
themselves having to prove that they’re
victims, too — not deadbeats
trying to get out of paying bad debts.
So how do you go about proving something
you didn’t do? Getting the right
documents and getting them to the
right people is key.
Police Report: If you have
a police report, send a copy to Experian,
Equifax and TransUnion. They will
block the information you’re
disputing from your credit reports.
This may take up to 30 days. The credit
bureaus have the right to remove the
block, if they believe it was wrongly
placed. Because this initiative is
voluntary in the vast majority of
states, it’s important to also
follow the dispute procedures outlined
Reports,” above. Contact
the credit bureaus to find out more
about how the “Police Report
Initiative” works. If you’re
having trouble getting a police report,
on Filing a Police Report,”
ID Theft Affidavit: Since
you didn’t open the accounts
in dispute or run up the related debts,
of course you don’t have any
paperwork showing you didn’t
do these things. That’s where
the ID Theft Affidavit can be very
helpful. The FTC, in conjunction with
banks, credit grantors and consumer
advocates, developed the ID Theft
Affidavit (see Appendix
below) to help you close unauthorized
accounts and get rid of debts wrongfully
attributed to your name. If you don’t
have a police report or any paperwork
from creditors, send the completed
ID Theft Affidavit to the three major
credit bureaus. They will use it to
start the dispute investigation process.
Not all companies accept the ID Theft
Affidavit. They may require you to
use their forms instead. Check first.
Documentation: Getting documentation
from a creditor may be difficult.
Creditors’ policies on confidentiality
and record keeping vary and may prevent
you from getting the paperwork you
need to prove you didn’t make
the transaction. On the upside, most
victims can get accounts closed and
debts dismissed by completing the
creditor’s fraud paperwork or
the ID Theft Affidavit and including
a copy of your police report. Insist
on a letter from the creditor stating
that they have closed the disputed
accounts and have discharged you of
the fraudulent debts. This letter
is your best defense if errors reappear
or your personal information gets
re-circulated. (See "Tips
on Organizing Your Case,"
above). This letter is also the best
document to give credit bureaus and
debt collectors if your police report
and ID Theft Affidavit aren’t
enough to resolve your problems with
DISPUTE LETTER — CREDIT BUREAU
Your City, State, Zip Code
Name of Credit Bureau
City, State, Zip Code
Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following
information in my file. The items
I dispute also are circled on the
attached copy of the report I received.
(Identify item(s) disputed by name
of source, such as creditors or tax
court, and identify type of item,
such as credit account, judgment,
a victim of identity theft, and did
not make the charge(s). I am requesting
that the item be blocked to correct
my credit report.
are copies of (use this sentence if
applicable and describe any enclosed
documentation) supporting my position.
Please investigate this (these) matter(s)
and block the disputed item(s) as
soon as possible.
(List what you are enclosing.)
DISPUTE LETTER — FOR EXISTING CREDIT
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Account Number
Name of Creditor
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to
dispute a fraudulent (charge or debit)
attributed to my account in the amount
of $______. I am a victim of identity
theft, and I did not make this (charge
or debit). I am requesting that the
(charge be removed or the debit reinstated),
that any finance and other charges
related to the fraudulent amount be
credited as well, and that I receive
an accurate statement.
Enclosed are copies
of (use this sentence to describe
any enclosed information, such as
police report) supporting my position.
Please investigate this matter and
correct the fraudulent (charge or
debit) as soon as possible.
what you are enclosing.)
FILING A COMPLAINT
WITH THE FTC IS IMPORTANT
If you’ve been a
victim of identity theft, file a complaint
with the FTC by contacting the FTC’s
Identity Theft Hotline by telephone:
toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338);
TDD: 202-326-2502; by mail: Identity Theft
Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission,
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington,
DC 20580; or online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Although the FTC does
not have the authority to bring criminal
cases, the Commission can help victims of
identity theft by providing information
to assist them in resolving the financial
and other problems that can result from
By sharing your identity
theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide
important information that can help law
enforcement officials track down identity
thieves and stop them. The FTC also refers
victim complaints to other appropriate government
agencies and private organizations for further
Numerous federal and state
agencies have jurisdiction over specific
aspects of identity theft. If your theft
relates to any of the following categories,
contact the agencies directly for help and
information or to initiate an investigation.
If you’re having trouble getting your
financial institution to help you resolve
your banking-related identity theft problems,
including problems with bank-issued credit
cards, contact the agency with the appropriate
jurisdiction. If you’re not sure which
of the agencies listed below has jurisdiction
over your institution, call your bank or
Insurance Corporation (FDIC) —
The FDIC supervises state-chartered banks
that are not members of the Federal Reserve
System and insures deposits at banks and
savings and loans.
Call the FDIC Consumer Call Center at 1-800-934-3342;
or write: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,
Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs,
550 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20429.
• Classic Cons...
And How to Counter Them — www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnsprg98/cons.html
• A Crook Has Drained Your Account.
Who Pays? — www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnsprg98/crook.html
• Your Wallet: A Loser’s
Manual — www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall97/wallet.html
System (Fed) — www.federalreserve.gov
The Fed supervises state-chartered banks
that are members of the Federal Reserve
Call: 202-452-3693; or write: Division of
Consumer and Community Affairs, Mail Stop
801, Federal Reserve Board, Washington,
DC 20551; or contact the Federal Reserve
Bank in your area. The 12 Reserve Banks
are located in Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St.
Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas
and San Francisco.
Union Administration (NCUA) —
The NCUA charters and supervises federal
credit unions and insures deposits at federal
credit unions and many state credit unions.
Call: 703-518-6360; or write: Compliance
Officer, National Credit Union Administration,
1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.
Office of the
Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
The OCC charters and supervises national
banks. If the word “national”
appears in the name of a bank, or the initials
“N.A.” follow its name, the
OCC oversees its operations.
Call: 1-800-613-6743 (business
days 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST); fax: 713-336-4301;
write: Customer Assistance Group, 1301 McKinney
Street, Suite 3710, Houston, TX 77010.
• Check Fraud:
A Guide to Avoiding Losses —
• How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
of Identity Theft — www.occ.treas.gov/idtheft.pdf
• Identity Theft and Pretext Calling
Advisory Letter 2001-4 — www.occ.treas.gov/ftp/advisory/2001-4.doc
Office of Thrift
Supervision (OTS) — www.ots.treas.gov
The OTS is the primary regulator of all
federal, and many state-chartered, thrift
institutions, which include savings banks
and savings and loan institutions.
Call: 202-906-6000; or write: Office of
Thrift Supervision, 1700 G Street, NW, Washington,
U. S. Trustee
(UST) — www.usdoj.gov/ust
If you believe someone
has filed for bankruptcy in your name, write
to the U.S. Trustee in the region where
the bankruptcy was filed. A list of the
U.S. Trustee Programs’s Regional Offices
is available on the UST Web site, or check
the Blue Pages of your phone book under
U.S. Government Bankruptcy Administration.
Your letter should describe
the situation and provide proof of your
identity. The U.S. Trustee, if appropriate,
will make a criminal referral to law enforcement
authorities if you provide appropriate documentation
to substantiate your claim. You also may
want to file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney
and/or the FBI in the city where the bankruptcy
was filed. The U.S. Trustee does not provide
legal representation, legal advice or referrals
to lawyers. That means you may need to hire
an attorney to help convince the bankruptcy
court that the filing is fraudulent. The
U.S. Trustee does not provide consumers
with copies of court documents. Those documents
are available from the bankruptcy clerk’s
office for a fee.
Although procedures to
correct your record within the criminal
justice databases vary from state to state,
and even from county to county, the following
information can be used as a general guide.
If wrongful criminal violations
are attributed to your name, contact the
arresting or citing law enforcement agency
— that is, the police or sheriff’s
department that originally arrested the
person using your identity, or the court
agency that issued the warrant for the arrest.
File an impersonation report. And have your
identity confirmed: The police department
takes a full set of your fingerprints and
your photograph, and copies any photo identification
documents like your driver’s license,
passport or visa. Ask the law enforcement
agency to compare the prints and photographs
with those of the imposter to establish
your innocence. If the arrest warrant is
from a state or county other than where
you live, ask your local police department
to send the impersonation report to the
police department in the jurisdiction where
the arrest warrant, traffic citation or
criminal conviction originated.
The law enforcement agency
should then recall any warrants and issue
a “clearance letter” or certificate
of release (if you were arrested/booked).
You’ll need to keep this document
with you at all times in case you’re
wrongly arrested. Also, ask the law enforcement
agency to file, with the district attorney’s
(D.A.) office and/or court where the crime
took place, the record of the follow-up
investigation establishing your innocence.
This will result in an amended complaint
being issued. Once your name is recorded
in a criminal database, it’s unlikely
that it will be completely removed from
the official record. Ask that the “key
name,” or “primary name,”
be changed from your name to the imposter’s
name (or to “John Doe” if the
imposter’s true identity is not known),
with your name noted only as an alias.
You’ll also want
to clear your name in the court records.
You’ll need to determine which state
law(s) will help you do this and how. If
your state has no formal procedure for clearing
your record, contact the D.A.’s office
in the county where the case was originally
prosecuted. Ask the D.A.’s office
for the appropriate court records needed
to clear your name.
Finally, contact your
state DMV to find out if your driver’s
license is being used by the identity thief.
Ask that your files be flagged for possible
You may need to hire
a criminal defense attorney to help you
clear your name. Contact Legal Services
in your state or your local bar association
for help in finding an attorney.
If you think your name
or SSN is being used by an identity thief
to get a driver’s license or a non-driver’s
ID card, contact your DMV. If your state
uses your SSN as your driver’s license
number, ask to substitute another number.
and Exchange Commission (SEC) —
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education
and Assistance serves investors who complain
to the SEC about investment fraud or the
mishandling of their investments by securities
professionals. If you believe that an identity
thief has tampered with your securities
investments or a brokerage account, immediately
report it to your broker or account manager
and to the SEC. You can file a complaint
with the SEC using the online Complaint
Center at www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml.
Be sure to include as much detail as possible.
If you don’t have access to the Internet,
you can write to the SEC at: SEC Office
of Investor Education and Assistance, 450
Fifth Street, NW, Washington DC, 20549-0213.
For general questions, call 202-942-7040.
U.S. Postal Inspection
Service (USPIS) — www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect
USPIS is the law enforcement arm of the
U.S. Postal Service responsible for investigating
cases of identity theft. USPIS has primary
jurisdiction in all matters infringing on
the integrity of the U.S. mail. If an identity
thief has stolen your mail to get new credit
cards, bank or credit card statements, pre-screened
credit offers or tax information, has falsified
change-of-address forms, or obtained your
personal information through a fraud conducted
by mail, report it to your local postal
inspector. You can locate the USPIS district
office nearest you by calling your local
post office or checking the list at the
Web site above.
Department of State (USDS) —
If you’ve lost your passport or believe
it was stolen or is being used fraudulently,
contact the USDS through their Web site
or call a local USDS field office. Local
field offices are listed in the Blue Pages
of your telephone directory.
If an identity thief has
established phone service in your name,
is making unauthorized calls that seem to
come from — and are billed to —
your cellular phone, or is using your calling
card and PIN, contact your service provider
immediately to cancel the account and/or
calling card. Open new accounts and choose
new PINs. If you’re having trouble
getting fraudulent phone charges removed
from your account or getting an unauthorized
account closed, contact the appropriate
agency from the list below.
For local service,
contact your state Public Utility Commission.
For cellular phones
and long distance, contact the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The FCC regulates interstate and international
communications by radio, television, wire,
satellite and cable. You can contact the
FCC’s Consumer Information Bureau
to find out about information, forms, applications
and current issues before the FCC. Call:
1-888-CALL-FCC; TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC; or
write: Federal Communications Commission,
Consumer Information Bureau, 445 12th Street,
SW, Room 5A863, Washington, DC 20554. You
can file complaints via the online complaint
form at www.fcc.gov,
or e-mail questions to email@example.com.
Number (SSN) Theft and Misuse
Administration (SSA) — www.socialsecurity.gov
If you have specific information of SSN
misuse that involves the buying or selling
of Social Security cards, may be related
to terrorist activity, or is designed to
obtain Social Security benefits, contact
the SSA Office of the Inspector General.
You may file a complaint online at www.socialsecurity.gov/oig.
You may also call: 1-800-269-0271; fax:
410-597-0118; or write: SSA Fraud Hotline,
P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.
Also call SSA at 1-800-772-1213
to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported
on your SSN, and to request a copy of your
Social Security Statement. Follow up in
• SSA Fraud Hotline for Reporting
Fraud — www.ssa.gov/oig/guidelin.htm
• Social Security: Your Number
and Card (SSA Pub. No. 05-10002) —
• When Someone Misuses Your Number
(SSA Pub. No. 05-10064) — www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html
Service (IRS) — www.treas.gov/irs/ci
The IRS is responsible for administering
and enforcing tax laws. If you believe someone
has assumed your identity to file federal
Income Tax Returns, or to commit other tax
fraud, call toll-free: 1-800-829-0433. Victims
of identity theft who are having trouble
filing their returns should call the IRS
Taxpayer Advocates Office, toll-free: 1-877-777-4778.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Commission (FTC) — www.ftc.gov
The FTC is educating consumers and businesses
about the importance of personal information
privacy. Here are some additional publications
you may find useful. To request a free copy,
call 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or visit
• Getting Purse-onal:
What To Do If Your Wallet or Purse Is Stolen
• Identity Crisis... What to Do
If Your Identity Is Stolen
• Identity Thieves Can Ruin Your
Good Name: Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft
• Avoiding Credit and Charge Card
• Credit, ATM and Debit Cards:
What to Do If They’re Lost or Stolen
• Credit Card Loss Protection
Offers: They’re The Real Steal
• Electronic Banking
• Fair Credit Billing
• Fair Credit Reporting
• Fair Debt Collection
• How to Dispute Credit Report
Justice (DOJ) — www.usdoj.gov
The DOJ and its U.S. Attorneys prosecute
federal identity theft cases. Information
on identity theft is available at www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html.
of Investigation (FBI) —
The FBI, a criminal law enforcement agency,
investigates cases of identity theft. The
FBI recognizes that identity theft
is a component of many crimes including
bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy
fraud, insurance fraud, fraud against the
government, and terrorism. Local field offices
are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone
U.S. Secret Service
(USSS) — www.treas.gov/usss
The U.S. Secret Service investigates financial
crimes, which may include identity theft.
Although the Secret Service generally investigates
cases where the dollar loss is substantial,
your information may provide evidence of
a larger pattern of fraud requiring their
involvement. Local field offices are listed
in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory.
Financial Crimes Division
The Identity Theft and
Assumption Deterrence Act, enacted by Congress
in October 1998 (and codified, in part,
at 18 U.S.C. §1028) is the federal
law making identity theft a crime.
and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence
Act makes it a federal crime when someone
“knowingly transfers or uses, without
lawful authority, a means of identification
of another person with the intent to commit,
or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity
that constitutes a violation of federal
law, or that constitutes a felony under
any applicable state or local law.”
Under the Act, a name or SSN is considered
a “means of identification.”
So is a credit card number, cellular telephone
electronic serial number or any other piece
of information that may be used alone or
in conjunction with other information to
identify a specific individual.
Violations of the Act
are investigated by federal law enforcement
agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service,
the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service,
and SSA’s Office of the Inspector
General. Federal identity theft cases are
prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In most instances, a conviction for identity
theft carries a maximum penalty of 15 years
imprisonment, a fine and forfeiture of any
personal property used or intended to be
used to commit the crime. Pursuant to the
Act, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has
developed federal sentencing guidelines
to provide appropriate penalties for those
persons convicted of identity theft.
Schemes to commit identity theft or fraud
also may involve violations of other statutes,
such as credit card fraud, computer fraud,
mail fraud, wire fraud, financial institution
fraud, or Social Security fraud. Each of
these federal offenses is a felony and carries
substantial penalties — in some cases,
as high as 30 years in prison as well as
fines and criminal forfeiture.
Many states have passed
laws related to identity theft; others are
considering such legislation. Where specific
identity theft laws do not exist, the practices
may be prohibited under other laws. Contact
your State Attorney General’s office
(for a list of state offices, visit www.naag.org)
or local consumer protection agency for
laws related to identity theft, or visit
State laws enacted at the time of this booklet’s
publication are listed below.
Alabama Code § 13A-8-190 through 201
Alaska Stat. § 11.46.565
Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-2008
Ark. Code Ann. § 5-37-227
Cal. Penal Code § 530.5-530.8
No ID theft law
Conn. Stat. § 53a-129a (criminal);
Conn. Stat. § 52-571h (civil)
11 Del Code, § 854
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 817.568
Ga. Code Ann. § 16-9-120 through 128
No ID theft law
Idaho Code § 18-3126 (criminal); Idaho
Code § 28-51-102 (civil)
720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/16G
Ind. Code § 35-43-5-3.5
Iowa Code § 715A.8 (criminal); Iowa
Code § 714.16.B (civil)
Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-4018
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 514.160
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:67.16
No ID theft law
Md. Code Ann. art. 27, § 231
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 37E
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.219e
Minn. Stat. § 609.527
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-19-85
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.223
Mon. Code Ann. § 45-6-332
No ID theft law
Nev. Rev. State. § 205.463-465
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 638:26
N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:21-17
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-16-24.1
No ID theft law
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-113.20-23
N.D.Cent. Codes § 12.1-23-11
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2913.49
Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1533.1
Or. Rev. Stat. § 165.800
18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4120
R.I. Gen. Laws Sect. 11-49-1.1
S.C. Code Ann. § 16-13-510
S.D. Codified Laws § 22-30A-3.1.
TCA § 39-14-150 (criminal); TCA §
Tex. Penal Code § 32.51
Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-1101-1104
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-186.3
No ID theft law
Wash. Rev. Code § 9.35.020
W. Va. Code § 61-3-54
Wis. Stat. § 943.201
Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-3-901
9 Guam Code Ann. § 46.80
No ID theft law
Instructions for Completing
the ID Theft Affidavit
To make certain that
you do not become responsible for the debts
incurred by the identity thief, you must
provide proof that you didn’t create
the debt to each of the companies where
accounts were opened or used in your name.
A working group composed
of credit grantors, consumer advocates and
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) developed
this ID Theft Affidavit to help you report
information to many companies using just
one standard form. Use of this affidavit
is optional for companies. While many companies
accept this affidavit, others require that
you submit more or different forms. Before
you send the affidavit, contact each company
to find out if they accept it.
You can use this affidavit
where a new account
was opened in your name. The information
will enable the companies to investigate
the fraud and decide the outcome of your
claim. (If someone made unauthorized charges
to an existing
account, call the company to find
out what to do.)
This affidavit has two parts:
- ID Theft
Affidavit is where you report general
information about yourself and the theft.
Account Statement is where you
describe the fraudulent account(s) opened
in your name. Use a separate Fraudulent
Account Statement for each company you
need to write to.
When you send the affidavit
to the companies, attach copies (NOT
originals) of any supporting documents (for
example, driver’s license, police
report) you have. Before submitting your
affidavit, review the disputed account(s)
with family members or friends who may have
information about the account(s) or access
this affidavit as soon as possible.
Many creditors ask that you send it within
two weeks of receiving it. Delaying could
slow the investigation.
as accurate and complete as possible.
You may choose not to provide some
of the information requested. However, incorrect
or incomplete information will slow the
process of investigating your claim and
absolving the debt. Please print clearly.
When you have finished
completing the affidavit, mail a copy to
each creditor, bank or company that provided
the thief with the unauthorized credit,
goods or services you describe. Attach to
each affidavit a copy of the Fraudulent
Account Statement with information only
on accounts opened at the institution receiving
the packet, as well as any other supporting
documentation you are able to provide.
the appropriate documents to each company
by certified mail, return receipt requested,
so you can prove that it was received. The
companies will review your claim and send
you a written response telling you the outcome
of their investigation. Keep
a copy of everything you submit for your
If you cannot complete
the affidavit, a legal guardian or someone
with power of attorney may complete it for
you. Except as noted, the information you
provide will be used only by the company
to process your affidavit, investigate the
events you report and help stop further
fraud. If this affidavit is requested in
a lawsuit, the company might have to provide
it to the requesting party.
Completing this affidavit
does not guarantee that the identity thief
will be prosecuted or that the debt will
If you haven’t
already done so, report the fraud
to the following organizations:
1. Each of the three
national consumer reporting
agencies. Ask each agency
to place a “fraud alert”
on your credit report, and send you
a copy of your credit file. When you
have completed your affidavit packet,