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Reclaim Your Identity

If you suspect your identity has been stolen or is being misused, take action immediately. There are five steps you should follow to reclaim your identity:

  1. Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports with all three credit bureaus, and review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient: Equifax 1.800.525.6285; Experian 1.888.397.3742; TransUnion 1.800.680.7289.
  2. Close all accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently. Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents. Use the ID Theft Affidavit at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement. Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged. Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
  3. File a police report to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime. Be sure to keep a copy for your records.
  4. Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your complaint can help law enforcement officials track down identity thieves and stop them. To file a report, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft, call 1.877.438.4338 or mail Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580.
  5. Alert your financial institution and all your unaffected creditors. A fraudulent charge may have been reported to them, causing a change in your rates.

To learn more about identity theft, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft, or request copies of ID theft resources by writing to: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, H-130, Washington, DC 20580.

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