My Financial Information Has Been Stolen
The most common form of identity theft is financial identity theft. We understand how frustrating and inconvenient this type of identity theft can be. Using your stolen credit card and or bank account information, the identity thief may make purchases, write checks, or withdraw or transfer money from your existing accounts in your name.
Identity thieves might also misuse your other existing accounts, such as Internet payment accounts, satellite television accounts, utility, or wireless service accounts, for their personal gain.
If you suspect that your existing financial account information has been used to commit identity theft:
1. Immediately Close or Cancel Affected Accounts:
- Close or cancel credit or debit cards that have been compromised to prevent any further misuse of your cards.
- For checking accounts that have been compromised, identify the checks that you have written so that only those checks will be cleared, but not any written by the identity thief.
- Work with the Fraud Department of the company where your account has been misused. Ask the company to return any amount fraudulently withdrawn or transferred from your account, and correct your account or billing statements.
2. Follow Up in Writing:
- Ask the representative to send you the company’s fraud dispute forms. If the company doesn’t have special forms, use the Sample Letter To Company Disputing Charge For Existing Account to dispute the fraudulent charges or debits.
- Include a copy of any billing statement you have marked to show the inaccurate information.
- Put your request in writing and send to the company at the address given for billing inquiries or an address the fraud department provides, NOT the address for sending your payments.
3. Get Copies of Your Credit Report:
Contact the three credit bureau listed below and place a “fraud alert” or “credit freeze” on your credit file. Information on how to complete these tasks are provided on the credit bureau web site.
|P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
|P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
|P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
4. Review Your Credit Reports:
- Look to see if the fraudulent use of your financial accounts appears anywhere on your reports. The fraudulent activity may be in collections by the time you discover it, so you may see collection agencies listed on your credit report that are collecting on behalf of one of your existing accounts.
- Check to see if you can find any other evidence of identity theft on your credit report. Your name, address, employer, and other personal information may also have been changed as a result of the thief’s activities.
- If you find inaccurate information on your credit report, mark a copy (not the original) of your credit report to correct the inaccuracies caused by the identity thief.
5. Report the Identity Theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
- Creating an Identity Theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission can be very helpful in assisting law enforcement with creating an Identity Theft Report and can also be used at times in place of a police report if you are unable to obtain a report from your local law enforcement agency.
- Report all of the inaccuracies you have identified on your credit report and anything else you know about the crime. Go to www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft to report online and print out an Identity Theft Affidavit when you are finished. You may also contact the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338), to file your report by phone, and request that they send you an affidavit of the report that you filed by phone.
- For more information, visit How to Use an Identity Theft Affidavit.
6. File a Police Report:
- Contact your local law enforcement agency about your identity theft and file an Identity Theft Report. Be sure to ask for a copy of the report.
- You will need an Identity Theft Report to exercise your right to have the fraudulent information removed permanently from your credit report, and to stop creditors and collection agencies from reporting the fraudulent debt to the credit bureaus.
- Take a copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit you filed with the FTC to the police to make it easier for the police to write your Identity Theft Report.
- For more information, visit How to Use and Identity Theft Report.
7. Dispute Inaccurate Information with Credit Reporting Agencies:
- Make a written request to the credit bureaus that they permanently remove or correct the information you have identified as inaccurate, and that they notify the creditors who provided that information that it is fraudulent.
- Enclose a copy of your marked credit report, along with a copy of your police Identity Theft Report and a copy your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit.
- For more information, visit How to Remove Credit Report Errors.
8. Dispute Inaccurate Information from Each Creditor or Collection Agency:
- Submit in writing a statement to creditors or collection agencies indicating the inaccurate information that they provided to the credit bureaus or inaccurate information that appears in any statements you have received.
- Include a copy of your credit report or billing statement marked to show the inaccurate information, along with a copy of the police Identity Theft Report and a copy your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. (Do not send originals)
- Send all of your letters by certified mail and request a return receipt to confirm your letter and information was received.
- For more information, visit Sample Dispute Letter For Existing Accounts.
- For more information, visit Sample Blocking Letter For Consumer Reporting Company.
9. For Compromised Credit or Debit Cards:
- For Credit Cards: The Fair Credit Billing Act is a federal law that establishes the procedures for resolving billing errors and fraudulent charges on your account. Note: The Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability for unauthorized credit card charges up to $50 per card. However, you must report the unauthorized usage within 60 days (meaning the letter must reach the creditor within 60 days after the first bill where the unauthorized usage occurred).
- If you did not receive the bill and did not send your dispute letter within the 60 days of the fraudulent charges, you will not be eligible to take advantage of the consumer protection and may be liable for the full amount of the unauthorized charges.
- You must write to the creditor’s “billing inquiries” address and include your name address, account number, the billing error, the amount and the date of the error.
- The creditor 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 90 days after receiving your letter.
- For Debit Cards: The Electronic Fund Transfer Act is a law that provides consumer protection for ATM or debit card transactions. The Act will limit your liability to $50 if you report the fraudulent transaction with 2 days from the date you realize the card is missing or discover unauthorized withdrawals or transactions.
- If your card is stolen and you fail to report the loss within two business days of discovery, but you do notify the bank within 60 days after your statement is mailed to you, you may be liable for up to $500 based on unauthorized transfers.
- If you fail to notify the bank until after 60 days after your statement is mailed, you may be liable for the total amount of the fraudulent transactions. This can include both all the money in your accounts and the amount in your overdraft account.
- If extenuating circumstances, such as lengthy travel or illness, prevent you from notifying the financial institution within the time periods described above, the card issuer must reasonably extend the notification period.
10. For Compromised Checks Written on an Account:
- Contact ChexSystems, Inc. ChexSystems, Inc, is a consumer reporting company and produces consumer reports about checking accounts. Be sure to contact each bank with the fraudulent accounts and close any fraudulent accounts. You may request a copy of your consumer report by contacting ChexSystems at 1-800-428-9623 or www.chexhelp.com:
Chex Systems, Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
Financial identity theft using your existing accounts is the most common way thieves use stolen information. However, the thief may also open new financial accounts in your name if he or she has stolen your Social Security number.
In addition to new credit and bank accounts, thieves may open new telephone and utility accounts, student, personal, automobile, and business loans, and make other major credit purchases.
If your personal information has been used to open new accounts, visit My Information Has Been Used to Open New Accounts to see how to clear your credit history, stop the thief from opening any further accounts, and stop reporting or collection activity by creditors and collections agencies.
Available Resource Materials:
- Letter to Creditors for Existing Accounts
- Letter for Credit Reporting Agencies
- Request for Fraudulent Transaction/Account Information
- Sample Blocking Letter For Consumer Reporting Company
- Sample Letter To Company Disputing Charge For Existing Accounts
- Sample Dispute Letter For Existing Accounts
- Identity Theft Victim's Complaint and Affidavit - Completed Example
- Instructions For Consumers On Requesting Documents
- Taking Charge: What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen
- Statement of Rights for Identity Theft Victims