Dealing With Common Forms of Identity Theft

Following are ways to deal with common forms of identity theft, according to the Attorney General’s Office:

  • At the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft website, you can get a personal recovery plan that will walk you through each recovery step:
    • Adapting to your changing situation
    • Pre-fill letters and forms for you to send to businesses, debt collectors, and others
    • Tracking of your progress
  • If an identity thief has accessed your bank accounts, checking account or bank card, close the accounts immediately. When you open new accounts, insist on password-only access. If your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment. If your bank card has been lost, stolen or otherwise compromised, cancel the card and ask for another with a new personal identification number (PIN).
  • If an identity thief has changed the billing address on an existing credit card account, close the account immediately. When you open a new account, ask that a password be used before any inquiries or changes can be made on the account.
  • If an identity thief has established new phone or wireless service in your name and is making unauthorized calls that appear to come from - and are billed to - your cellular phone, or is using your calling card and PIN, contact your service provider immediately to cancel the account and calling card. Obtain new accounts and new PINs.
  • If an identity thief has stolen your mail for access to new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers and tax information or falsified change-of-address forms, that person has committed a crime. Report it to your local postal inspector or go to the U.S. Postal Inspections Services website.
  • If an identity thief is using your Social Security number (SSN) when applying for a job, get in touch with the Social Security Administration to verify the accuracy of your reported earnings and that your name is reported correctly. Call 800-772-1213 to check your Social Security statement.
  • If, after trying to resolve the problems brought on by identity theft you continue to experience problems, the SSA may issue you a new SSN at your request. However, consider this option very carefully. A new SSN may not resolve your identity theft problems, and may actually create new problems.
    • For example, a new SSN does not ensure a new credit record because credit bureaus may combine the credit records from your old SSN with those from your new SSN. Even when the old credit information is not associated with your new SSN, the absence of any credit history under your new SSN may make it difficult to obtain credit. Lastly, there is no guarantee that a new SSN would not also be misused by an identity thief.