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Recovering from Identity Theft

How to recognize the warning signs of identity theft and what to do if you believe you’re a victim.

Table of Contents


Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, with some 15 million Americans reporting having their identities stolen every year. As the sophisticated digital scams that thieves use evolve, it’s critical that people know how to avoid falling victim and how to respond if their identity is stolen.

Warning signs

Identity theft can take a variety of forms, but there are some key warning signs 

  • Unrecognized bills for items and services you didn’t buy, accounts you didn’t open, or medical services you didn't get 
  • Charges on your credit card and/or bank statements that you don’t recognize 
  • Unexplained withdrawals from your bank account 
  • Receiving calls from debt collectors or collection agencies about debt that isn’t yours 
  • Notification that more than one tax return was filed in your name 
  • An inexplicable denial of credit 

What to do if you think you're a victim

  • Contact the companies and banks where you believe fraud has occurred 
  • Change the passwords on the accounts you believe have been compromised
  • Even if your local police department doesn't have jurisdiction over the crime, you should still file a report so you can provide a copy to your banks, creditors, other businesses, credit bureaus, and debt collectors
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by phone at 1-877-438-4338
  • Contact the “Big Three” Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA) -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and request a fraud alert, which will require a business to verify your identity before opening any new lines of credit 
  • Ask the agencies for copies of your credit report, as you may be eligible for an extended seven-year fraud alert. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the companies to provide a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months


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