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What is the first thing I should do if I suspect identity theft?

If you suspect identity theft, you should close the suspicious account(s) and notify a credit reporting agency. Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting agencies. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your credit file, which will let creditors know that your credit has been tampered with. This alert will warn lenders to be especially careful in authenticating identity of anyone claiming to be you. It will mean that one cannot open instant credit, for example, at a retail store. Request a "victim's statement" be placed in your file, which requires creditors to call a consumer prior to the opening of any new accounts. If someone opens a new account, request that a password be utilized. It is particularly important to follow up with written notification, since this is the requirement of the Fair Credit Billing Act.

Additionally, request a copy of your credit report for examination. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months upon request if you certify that your report is inaccurate due to fraud, you have been denied credit due to your credit score, you are on welfare, or you are unemployed and place to seek employment within 60 days. Otherwise, credit bureaus charge a small fee for a report.

Consumers now have a standard form to report fraud to creditors with the ID Theft Affidavit at Fill it out, photocopy it, and mail it 'Return Receipt Requested' to the three major credit bureaus, as well as each creditor.

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