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Identity theft is any crime that involves someone wrongfully obtaining and using another person’s personal data in a fraudulent manner, usually to steal money. The identities of roughly nine million Americans are stolen each year. If you notice even one of the warning signs below, download “Help for ID Theft Victims (PDF)” for step-by-step instructions on how to report the theft, recover losses, and stop the damage.
Most victims won’t know their identity has been stolen until well after it happens because they don’t know the warning signs. The sooner you become aware of the theft, the less damage a thief can do.
If you notice any of the warning signs below, download Help for ID Theft Victims (PDF) to learn how to report the theft, recover losses, and stop the damage.
Always check billing statements for purchases or transactions you didn’t make. Unexpected purchases or transactions indicate that someone has stolen your account number.
There are three major credit reporting companies, each of which is required to provide you with one free copy of your credit report every year upon request. Contact them directly to order your reports:
If you receive bills from doctors or medical facilities for services you never used, someone is using your identity to get medical treatment or insurance.
If debt collectors contact you about debt you know nothing about, your identity may have been stolen.
If you notice even one of the warning signs above, you need to take immediate steps to protect your assets. Download Help for ID Theft Victims (PDF) for step-by-step instructions on how to report the theft, recover losses, and stop the damage.
If you believe your identity has been stolen, it is important that you act immediately to minimize the damage to your credit rating. Download "Help for ID Theft Victims" (PDF) and learn how to stop the damage.
Identity theft may affect many aspects of our lives beyond the immediate financial losses.
Get more information (PDF) about how to resolve any of the following problems that may result from identity theft:
A thief submits a “Change of Address” form to redirect your mail to himself or simply steals your mail.
A thief uses your personal information to obtain phone, cable, electric, water, or other utility services.
A thief steals your Social Security number and sells it, or uses it to get a job or other benefits.
If a thief uses your Social Security number to get a job, his or her earnings will show up on your Internal Revenue Service (IRS) records.
A thief uses your name to obtain medical treatment.
A thief opens accounts in your name and runs up charges, but doesn’t pay the bills.
A thief uses your personal information to get a student loan.
A thief uses a child’s name and Social Security number to get a job, government benefits, medical care, utilities, car loans, or even a mortgage.
A thief uses your personal information during a criminal arrest or investigation, and you are into your state’s (and possibly the national) criminal database.
A thief steals or finds your lost identification to obtain other identification, such as a driver’s license, Medicare card, passport and a state-issued ID.