Getting Started

Identity Theft: Protection and Prevention

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number) without your permission to commit fraud or other types of crime.

Consider the following steps to help keep your name and credit protected:

It Happened—What Do I Do?

  1. Even after taking precautions, you may still be vulnerable to identity theft. If you have become a victim of identity theft, here are some ways to facilitate the process of clearing your name:Contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline 1-877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338).
  2. Create a list of all the creditors whom you suspect have received fraudulent information. Keep records of all communications, including phone conversations and written or electronic correspondence.
  3. Inform the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus (numbers listed above) and ask that a “fraud alert” be attached to your file. Although the credit bureaus are not required to attach “fraud alerts,” they generally will do so. This temporarily alerts a creditor that fraudulent activity may have been conducted on your accounts.
  4. Terminate any accounts you were not responsible for opening and any existing accounts that were fraudulently used.
  5. Report any relevant information you have to the police, and be sure to provide copies of all relevant documents.

Depending on the type of fraud that has been committed, you may need to take some additional steps. For example, if your Social Security number was used under false pretenses, contact your local Social Security office. Or, if an identity thief created a cellular phone account with your billing information, contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Education and Reaction
Educating yourself on how to avoid becoming a victim and how to react should you become a victim are the first steps in the fight to stop identity theft. Visit the Federal Trade Commission at to learn more about identity theft and ways to protect yourself.