ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen
To Your Good Name
Identity Theft Occurs
Minimize Your Risk
You Can Do Today
The Doors and Windows are Locked, but...
to Share Personal Information - or Not
- Credit Bureaus
- Departments of Motor Vehicles
- Direct Marketers
You're a Victim
- Your First Three Steps
Your Course of Action
- Credit Reports
- Credit Cards
- Debt Collectors
- ATM Cards, Debit Cards
and Electronic Fund Transfers
Fake Driver's License
Social Security Number Theft and Misuse
Fake Driver's License
Social Security Number Theft and Misuse
- Instructions for Completing
the ID Theft Affidavit 24
- ID Theft Affidavit 26
In the course of a busy
day, you may write a check at the grocery store, charge
tickets to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax returns,
call home on your cell phone, order new checks or apply
for a credit card. Chances are you don’t give these
everyday transactions a second thought. But someone
The 1990’s spawned a new variety of crooks called identity
thieves. Their stock in trade is your everyday transaction.
Each transaction requires you to share personal information:
your bank and credit card account numbers; your income;
your Social Security number (SSN); or your name, address
and phone numbers. An identity thief co-opts some piece
of your personal information and appropriates it without
your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. An all-too-common
example is when an identity thief uses your personal
information to open a credit card account in your name.
Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities
have been stolen can spend months or years – and thousands
of dollars – cleaning up the mess the thieves have made
of their good name and credit record. In the meantime,
victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans
for education, housing, cars, or even be arrested for
crimes they didn’t commit. Humiliation, anger and frustration
are common feelings victims experience as they navigate
the arduous process of reclaiming their identity.
Perhaps you’ve received your first call from a collections
agent demanding payment on a loan you never took out
– for a car you never bought. Maybe you’ve already spent
a significant amount of time and money calling financial
institutions, canceling accounts, struggling to regain
your good name and credit. Or maybe your wallet’s been
stolen, or you’ve just heard about identity theft for
the first time on the nightly news, and you’d like to
know more about protecting yourself from this devastating
crime. This booklet is for you.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), working with other
government agencies and organizations, has produced
this booklet to help you guard against and recover from
identity theft. Can you completely prevent identity
theft from occurring? Probably not, especially if someone
is determined to commit the crime. But you can minimize
your risk by managing your personal information wisely
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, call the
FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT
(438-4338). Counselors will take your complaint and
advise you on how to deal with the credit-related problems
that could result. In addition, the FTC, in conjunction
with banks, credit grantors and consumer advocates,
has developed the ID Theft Affidavit to help victims
of ID theft restore their good names. The ID Theft Affidavit,
a form that can be used to report information to many
organizations, simplifies the process of disputing charges
with companies where a new account was opened in your
name. For a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit, see page
29 or visit the ID Theft Website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
The Hotline and Website give you one place to report
the theft to the federal government and receive helpful
information. The FTC puts your information into a secure
consumer fraud database where it can be used to help
other law enforcement agencies and private entities
in their investigations and victim assistance.
IDENTITY THEFT OCCURS
was stolen in December 1998. There’s been no end to
the problems I’ve faced since then. The thieves used
my identity to write checks, use a debit card, open
a bank account with a line of credit, open credit accounts
with several stores, obtain cell phones and run up huge
bills, print fraudulent checks on a personal computer
bearing my name, and more. I’ve spent the last two years
trying to repair my credit report (a very frustrating
process) and have suffered the ill effects of having
a marred credit history. I’ve recently been denied a
student loan because of inaccurate
information on my credit report.
From a consumer complaint
to the FTC, February 22, 2001
your best efforts to manage the flow of your personal
information or to keep it to yourself, skilled identity
thieves may use a variety of methods - low- and hi-tech
- to gain access to your data. Here are some of the ways
imposters can get your personal information and take over
identity thieves get your personal information:
They steal wallets
and purses containing your identification and
credit and bank cards.
They steal your mail,
including your bank and credit card statements,
pre-approved credit offers, telephone calling
cards and tax information.
They complete a "change
of address form" to divert your mail to
They rummage through
your trash, or the trash of businesses, for
personal data in a practice known as "dumpster
obtain your credit report by posing as a landlord,
employer or someone else who may have a legitimate
need for — and
a legal right to — the
They get your business
or personnel records at work.
They find personal
information in your home.
They use personal
information you share on the Internet.
They buy your personal
information from "inside" sources.
For example, an identity thief may pay a store
employee for information about you that appears
on an application for goods, services or credit.
identity thieves use your personal information:
They call your credit
card issuer and, pretending to be you, ask to
change the mailing address on your credit card
account. The imposter then runs up charges on
your account. Because your bills are being sent
to the new address, it may take some time before
you realize there's a problem.
They open a new credit
card account, using your name, date of birth
and SSN. When they use the credit card and don't
pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported
on your credit report.
They establish phone
or wireless service in your name.
They open a bank
account in your name and write bad checks on
They file for bankruptcy
under your name to avoid paying debts they've
incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
They buy cars by
taking out auto loans in your name.
MINIMIZE YOUR RISK
I’m tired of the hours
I’ve spent on the phone and all the faxing I’ve had
to do. When will it be over?
a consumer complaint to the FTC, March 13, 2001
Sunday so we won’t get any notices, but I’m not looking
forward to Monday’s mail.
a consumer complaint to the FTC, November 13, 2001
you probably can't prevent identity theft entirely, you
can minimize your risk. By managing your personal information
wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue,
you can help guard against identity theft.
You Can Do Today
To order your report, call: 1-800-685-1111
or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud, call: 1-800-525-6285
and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian — www.experian.com
To order your report, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN
or write: P.O. Box 2104, Allen TX 75013
To report fraud, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX 75013
Trans Union —
To order your report, call: 800-916-8800
or write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022.
To report fraud, call: 1-800-680-7289
and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O.
Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid
using easily available information like your mother’s
maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits
of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive
numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that
many businesses still have a line on their applications
for your mother’s maiden name. Use a password instead.
information in your home, especially if you have roommates,
employ outside help or are having service work done
in your home.
information security procedures in your workplace.
Find out who has access to your personal information
and verify that records are kept in a secure location.
Ask about the disposal procedures for those records
a copy of your credit report from each of the three
major credit bureaus once a year. By checking your
report on a regular basis you can catch mistakes and
fraud before they wreak havoc on your personal finances.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. One
of the most common ways that consumers find out that
they’re victims of identity theft is when they try
to make a major purchase, like a house or a car. The
deal can be lost or delayed while the credit report
mess is straightened out. Knowing what’s in your credit
report allows you to fix problems before they jeopardize
a major financial transaction.
give out personal information on the phone, through
the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated
the contact or are sure you know who you’re dealing
with. Identity thieves may pose as representatives
of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs) and even
government agencies to get you to reveal your SSN,
mother’s maiden name, account numbers and other identifying
information. Before you share any personal information,
confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.
You can check the organization’s website as many companies
post scam alerts when their name is used improperly,
or you can call customer service using the number
listed on your account statement or in the telephone
your mail and trash from theft.
outgoing mail in post office collection boxes
or at your local post office, rather than in an
unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your
mailbox. If you’re planning to be away from home
and can’t pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal
Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation
hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at
your local post office until you can pick it up
or are home to receive it.
thwart an identity thief who may pick through
your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal
information, tear or shred your charge receipts,
copies of credit applications, insurance forms,
physician statements, checks and bank statements,
expired charge cards that you’re discarding, and
credit offers you get in the mail.
revealing any personally identifying information (for
example, on an application), find out how it will
be used and secured, and whether it will be shared
with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use
of your information. Can you choose to have it kept
carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.
your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use
other types of identifiers when possible. If your
state uses your SSN as your driver’s license number,
ask to substitute another number.
only the identification information and the number
of credit and debit cards that you’ll actually need.
attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors
if your bills don’t arrive on time. A missing credit
card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over
your account and changed your billing address to cover
wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves may use
phony offers to get you to give them your personal
your purse or wallet in a safe place at work.
Special Word About Social Security Numbers
Your employer and financial institution will likely need
your SSN for wage and tax reporting purposes. Other businesses
may ask you for your SSN to do a credit check, like when
you apply for a loan, rent an apartment, or sign up for
utilities. Sometimes, however, they simply want your SSN
for general record keeping. You don’t have to give a business
your SSN just because they ask for it. If someone asks
for your SSN, ask the following questions:
Sometimes a business may not provide you with the service
or benefit you’re seeking if you don’t provide your SSN.
Getting answers to these questions will help you decide
whether you want to share your SSN with the business.
Remember – the decision is yours.
The Doors and Windows Are Locked, but . . .
You may be careful about
locking your doors and windows, and keeping your personal
papers in a secure place. But, depending on what you use
your personal computer for, an identity thief may not
need to set foot in your house to steal your personal
information. SSNs, financial records, tax returns, birth
dates, and bank account numbers may be stored in your
computer – a goldmine to an identity thief. The following
tips can help you keep your computer and your personal
- Update your virus protection
software regularly, or when a new virus alert is announced.
Computer viruses can have a variety of damaging effects,
including introducing program code that causes your
computer to send out files or other stored information.
Be on the alert for security repairs and patches that
you can download from your operating system’s website.
- Do not download files
sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from
people you don’t know. Opening a file could expose your
system to a computer virus or a program that could hijack
- Use a firewall program,
especially if you use a high-speed Internet connection
like cable, DSL or T-1, which leaves your computer connected
to the Internet 24 hours a day. The firewall program
will allow you to stop uninvited guests from accessing
your computer. Without it, hackers can take over your
computer and access your personal information stored
on it or use it to commit other crimes.
- Use a secure browser –
software that encrypts or scrambles information you
send over the Internet – to guard the security of your
online transactions. Be sure your browser has the most
up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest
version available from the manufacturer. You also can
download some browsers for free over the Internet. When
submitting information, look for the “lock” icon on
the browser’s status bar to be sure your information
is secure during transmission.
- Try not to store financial
information on your laptop unless absolutely necessary.
If you do, use a strong password – a combination of
letters (upper and lowers case), numbers and symbols.
Don’t use an automatic log-in feature which saves your
user name and password so you don’t have to enter them
each time you log-in or enter a site. And always log
off when you’re finished. That way, if your laptop gets
stolen, it’s harder for the thief to access your personal
- Before you dispose of
a computer, delete personal information. Deleting files
using the keyboard or mouse commands may not be enough
because the files may stay on the computer’s hard drive,
where they may be easily retrieved. Use a “wipe” utility
program to overwrite the entire hard drive. It makes
the files unrecoverable.
- Look for website privacy
policies. They answer questions about maintaining accuracy,
access, security, and control of personal information
collected by the site, as well as how information will
be used, and whether it will be provided to third parties.
For more information, see
Site-Seeing on the Internet: A Traveler’s Guide to Cyberspace
from the FTC at www.ftc.gov.
CHOOSING TO SHARE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
In November 2000, I found
out that someone used my information to obtain a cell
phone. Since then, I’ve been living a nightmare. My
credit report is a mess. It’s a full-time job to investigate
and correct the information.
a consumer complaint to the FTC, April 3, 2001
generates an enormous amount of data. Most users of that
information are from honest businesses – getting and giving
legitimate information. Despite the benefits of the information
age, some consumers may want to limit the amount of personal
information they share. And they can: More organizations
are offering people choices about how their personal information
is used. For example, many feature an “opt-out” choice
that limits the information shared with others or used
for promotional purposes. When you “opt-out,” you may
cut down on the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls,
promotional mail and spam emails that you receive. Learn
more about the options you have for protecting your personal
information by contacting the following organizations.
If you receive
pre-screened credit card offers in the mail (namely, those
based upon your credit data), but don’t tear them up after
you decide you don’t want to accept the offer, identity
thieves could retrieve the offers for their own use without
To opt out of
receiving pre-screened credit card offers, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT
(1-888-567- 8688). The three major credit bureaus use
the same toll-free number to let consumers choose to not
receive pre-screened credit offers.
you can notify the three major credit bureaus that you
do not want personal information about you shared for
promotional purposes. To ask the three major credit bureaus
not to share your personal information, write to:
PO Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013
Marketing List Opt Out
PO Box 97328
Jackson, MS 39288-7328
of Motor Vehicles
Privacy Protection Act forbids states from distributing
personal information to direct marketers. It does allow
for the sharing of personal information with law enforcement
officials, courts, government agencies, private investigators,
insurance underwriters and similar businesses. Check with
your state DMV to learn more, or visit
The Direct Marketing
Association’s (DMA) Mail and Telephone Preference Services
allow you to opt out of receiving direct mail marketing
and telemarketing calls from many national companies for
When you register
with these services, your name will be put on a “delete”
file and made available to direct-mail and telephone marketers.
However, your registration will not stop mailings or calls
from organizations not registered with the DMA’s Mail
and Telephone Preference Services.
Mail Preference Service
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
Or go online
Telephone Preference Service
PO Box 1559
Carmel, NY 10512
Or go online
You also may
register with a state “do not call” list: Many states
offer “do not call” lists for residents of that state.
Rules for how to put your name and number on the list
and which telemarketers are covered vary. More information
on state “do not call” lists is available at www.ftc.gov/donotcall.
The DMA also
has an EMail Preference Service to help you reduce unsolicited
commercial emails. To “opt-out” of receiving unsolicited
commercial email, use DMA’s online form at
www.dmaconsumers.org/offemaillist.html. Your online
request will be effective for one year.
YOU'RE A VICTIM
an identity thief can strike even if you've been very
careful about keeping your personal information to yourself.
If you suspect that your personal information has been
hijacked and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft,
take action immediately, and keep a record of your conversations
and correspondence. You may want to use the
attached form [PDF
which steps you should take to protect yourself depends
on your circumstances and how your identity has been misused.
However, three basic actions are appropriatein almost
Your First Three
First, contact the
fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus.
Tell them that you're an
identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert"
be placed in your file, as well as a victim's statement
asking that creditors call you before opening any new
accounts or changing your existing accounts. This can
help prevent an identity thief from opening additional
accounts in your name.
At the same time, order copies
of your credit reports from the credit bureaus. Credit
bureaus must give you a free copy of your report if your
report is inaccurate because of fraud, and you request
it in writing. Review your reports carefully to make sure
no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in
your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing
accounts. Also, check the section of your report that
lists "inquiries." Where "inquiries"
appear from the company(ies) that opened the fraudulent
account(s), request that these "inquiries" be
removed from your report. (See "Credit
Reports" for more information.) In a few months,
order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections
and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity
Please note: Fraud
alerts and victim statements are voluntary services
provided by the credit bureaus. Creditors do not have
to consider them when granting credit. That’s why it’s
vital to continue checking your reports periodically.
In addition, fraud alerts and victim statements expire;
you need to renew them periodically. Ask each bureau
about its policy.
close the accounts that you
know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently
accounts include all accounts with banks, credit card
companies and other lenders, and phone companies, utilities,
ISPs, and other service providers. If you are closing
your existing accounts, use new Personal Identification
Numbers (PINs) and passwords when you open new accounts.
Avoid using easily available information like your mothers
maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of
your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive
the identity thief has made charges or debits, ask the
company about the following forms for disputing those
For New Unauthorized Accounts: Does the company accept
the ID Theft Affidavit (see page 29)? If not, ask the
representative to send you the company’s fraud dispute
For Your Existing Accounts: Ask the representative to
send you the company’s fraud dispute forms. If the company
doesn’t have special forms, use the sample letter on
If your ATM card has been lost, stolen or otherwise compromised,
cancel the card as soon as you can. Get a new card with
a new PIN.
your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment
and ask your bank to notify the check verification service
with which it does business. While no federal law limits
your losses if someone steals your checks and forges your
signature, state laws may protect you. Most states hold
the bank responsible for losses from a forged check. At
the same time, however, most states require you to take
reasonable care of your account. For example, you may
be held responsible for the forgery if you fail to notify
the bank in a timely manner that a check was lost or stolen.
Contact your state banking or consumer protection agency
for more information.
can contact major check verification companies directly
for the following services:
To request that they notify retailers who use their
databases not to accept your checks, call:
1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188
Equifax Check Systems):
International Check Services:
To find out if the identity thief has been passing bad
checks in your name, call:
Follow up all calls in writing. Send you letter by certified
mail, return receipt requested, so you can document
what the company received and when. Keep copies for
Third, file a report
with your local police or the police in the community
where the identity theft took place.
Get a copy of the police
report in case the bank, credit card company or others
need proof of the crime. Even if the police can't catch
the identity thief in your case, having a copy of the
police report can help you when dealing with creditors.
Tips on Filing a Police
- Provide documentation.
Furnish as much documentation as you can to prove your
case. Debt collection letters, credit reports, your
notarized ID Theft Affidavit, and other evidence of
fraudulent activity can help the police file a complete
- Be persistent. Local authorities
may tell you that they can’t take a report. Stress the
importance of a police report; many creditors require
one to resolve your dispute. Also remind them that under
their voluntary “Police Report Initiative,” credit bureaus
will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and
bad debts from appearing on your credit report, but
only if you can give them a copy of the police report.
If you can’t get the local police to take a report,
try your county police. If that doesn’t work, try your
If you’re told that identity
theft is not a crime under your state law, ask to file
a Miscellaneous Incident Report instead. See page 25
for a list of state laws.
- Be a motivating force.
Ask your police department to search the FTC’s Consumer
Sentinel database for other complaints in your community.
You may not be the first or only victim of this identity
thief. If there is a pattern of cases, local authorities
may give your case more consideration.
That’s why it’s also important
to file a complaint with the FTC. Law enforcement agencies
use complaints filed with the FTC to aggregate cases,
spot patterns, and track growth in identity theft. This
information can then be used to improve investigations
and victim assistance.
Tips on Organizing Your
Accurate and complete records
will greatly improve your chances of resolving your identity
- Follow up in writing with
all contacts you’ve made on the phone or in person.
Use certified mail, return receipt requested.
- Keep copies of all correspondence
or forms you send.
- Write down the name of
anyone you talk to, what he or she told you, and the
date the conversation occurred. Use Chart Your Course
of Action on page 14 to help you.
- Keep the originals of
supporting documentation, like police reports, and letters
to and from creditors; send copies only.
- Set up a filing system
for easy access to your paperwork.
- Keep old files even if
you believe your case is closed. One of the most difficult
and annoying aspects of identity theft is that errors
can reappear on your credit reports or your information
can be re-circulated. Should this happen, you’ll be
glad you kept your files.
CHART YOUR COURSE
Use this form to record the steps you’ve taken to report
the fraudulent use of your identity. Keep this list in
a safe place for reference.
Bureaus — Report Fraud
Phone Number: 1-800-525-6285
Phone Number: 1-888-397-3742
Phone Number: 1-800-680-7289
Banks, Credit Card Issuers and Other Creditors
(Contact each creditor promptly to protect your
applied for a loan in November 2000 and was told I had
bad credit. I requested a credit report in November
2000 and found all sorts of crazy information on it.
I’m single but was listed as married. When I renewed
my driver’s license by mail, I was surprised to find
someone else’s face on my license. This is a nightmare
and requires a large amount of my time.
From a consumer
complaint to the FTC, October 5, 2001
While resolving credit problems
resulting from identity theft can be time-consuming and
frustrating, the good news is that there are procedures
under federal laws for correcting credit report and billing
errors, and stopping debt collectors from contacting you
about debts you don’t owe. Here is a brief summary of
your rights, and what to do to clear up credit problems
that result from identity theft.Credit
The Fair Credit Reporting
Act (FCRA) establishes procedures for correcting mistakes
on your credit record and requires that your record be
made available only for certain legitimate business needs.
Under the FCRA, both the
credit bureau and the organization that provided the information
to the credit bureau (the "information provider"),
such as a bank or credit card company, are responsible
for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in
your report. To protect your rights under the law, contact
both the credit bureau and the information provider.
the credit bureau and follow up in writing. Tell them
what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies
(NOT originals) of documents that support your position.
In addition to providing your complete name and address,
your letter should clearly identify each item in your
report that you dispute, give the facts and explain why
you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction.
You may want to enclose a copy of your report with circles
around the items in question. Your letter may look something
like the sample
below. Send your letter by certified mail, and request
a return receipt so you can document what the credit bureau
received and when. Keep copies of your dispute letter
Credit bureaus must investigate
the items in question - usually within 30 days - unless
they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward
all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the
information provider. After the information provider receives
notice of a dispute from the credit bureau, it must investigate,
review all relevant information provided by the credit
bureau and report the results to the credit bureau. If
the information provider finds the disputed information
to be inaccurate, it must notify any nationwide credit
bureau that it reports to so that the credit bureaus can
correct this information in your file. Note that:
information that cannot be verified must be deleted
from your file.
report contains erroneous information, the credit
bureau must correct it.
If an item
is incomplete, the credit bureau must complete it.
For example, if your file shows that you have been
late making payments, but fails to show that you are
no longer delinquent, the credit bureau must show
that you're current.
file shows an account that belongs to someone else,
the credit bureau must delete it.
When the investigation is
complete, the credit bureau must give you the written
results and a free copy of your report if the dispute
results in a change. If an item is changed or removed,
the credit bureau cannot put the disputed information
back in your file unless the information provider verifies
its accuracy and completeness, and the credit bureau gives
you a written notice that includes the name, address and
phone number of the information provider.
If you request, the credit
bureau must send notices of corrections to anyone who
received your report in the past six months. Job applicants
can have a corrected copy of their report sent to anyone
who received a copy during the past two years for employment
purposes. If an investigation does not resolve your dispute,
ask the credit bureau to include your statement of the
dispute in your file and in future reports.
in addition to writing to the credit bureau, tell the
creditor or other information provider in
writing that you dispute an
item. Again, include copies (NOT originals) of documents
that support your position. Many information providers
specify an address for disputes. If the information provider
then reports the item to any credit bureau, it must include
a notice of your dispute. In addition, if you are correct
- that is, if the disputed information is not accurate
- the information provider may not use it again.
For more information, consult
How to Dispute Credit Report
Errors and Fair Credit Reporting, two brochures available
from the FTC or at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Proving You’re a Victim,
Not a Deadbeat
Unlike victims of other crimes, who generally are treated
with respect and sympathy, identity theft victims often
find themselves having to prove that they’re victims,
too – not deadbeats trying to get out of paying bad debts.
So how do you go about proving something you didn’t do?
Getting the right documents and getting them to the right
people is key.
The Police Report: If you have a police report, send a
copy to Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They will block
the information you’re disputing from your credit reports.
This may take up to 30 days. The credit bureaus have the
right to remove the block, if they believe it was wrongly
placed. Because this initiative is voluntary in the vast
majority of states, it’s important to also follow the
dispute procedures outlined in “Credit Reports” on this
page. Contact the credit bureaus to find out more about
how the “Police Report Initiative” works. If you’re having
trouble getting a police report, see “Tips on Filing a
The ID Theft Affidavit: Since you didn’t open the accounts
in dispute or run up the related debts, of course you
don’t have any paperwork showing you didn’t do these things.
That’s where the ID Theft Affidavit can be very helpful.
The FTC, in conjunction with banks, credit grantors and
consumer advocates, developed the ID Theft Affidavit (see
page 29) to help you close unauthorized accounts and get
rid of debts wrongfully attributed to your name. If you
don’t have a police report or any paperwork from creditors,
send the completed ID Theft Affidavit to the three major
credit bureaus. They will use it to start the dispute
investigation process. Not all companies accept the ID
Theft Affidavit. They may require you to use their forms
instead. Check first.
Creditor Documentation: Getting documentation from a creditor
may be difficult. Creditors’ policies on confidentiality
and record keeping vary and may prevent you from getting
the paperwork you need to prove you didn’t make the transaction.
On the upside, most victims can get accounts closed and
debts dismissed by completing the creditor’s fraud paperwork
or the ID Theft Affidavit and including a copy of your
police report. Insist on a letter from the creditor stating
that they have closed the disputed accounts and have discharged
you of the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best
defense if errors reappear or your personal information
gets re-circulated. (See Tips on Organizing Your Case,
page 13). This letter is also the best document to give
credit bureaus and debt collectors if your police report
and ID Theft Affidavit aren’t enough to resolve your problems
Sample Dispute Letter
Your City, State, Zip Code
Name of Credit Bureau
City, State, Zip Code
Sir or Madam:
am writing to dispute the following information
in my file.
The items I dispute also are circled on the
attached copy of
the report I received. (Identify item(s) disputed
by name of
source, such as creditors or tax court, and
identify type of
item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)
am a victim of identity theft, and did not make
charge(s). I am requesting that the item be
correct my credit report.
are copies of (use this sentence if applicable
describe any enclosed documentation) supporting
position. Please investigate this (these) matter(s)
the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
(List what you are enclosing.)
In most cases, the Truth
in Lending Act limits your liability for unauthorized
credit card charges to $50 per card. The Fair Credit Billing
Act (FCBA) establishes procedures for resolving billing
errors on your credit card accounts. This includes fraudulent
charges on your accounts.
To take advantage of the
law's consumer protections, you must:
the creditor at the address given for "billing
inquiries," not the address for sending your
payments. Include your name, address, account number
and a description of the billing error, including
the amount and date of the error. Your letter may
look something like the sample
letter so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days
after the first bill containing the error was mailed
to you. If the address on your account was changed
by an identity thief and you never received the bill,
your dispute letter still must reach the creditor
within 60 days of when the creditor would have mailed
the bill. This is why it's so important to keep track
of your billing statements and immediately follow
up when your bills don't arrive on time.
- Send your letter by certified
mail, and request a return receipt. This will be your
proof of the date the creditor received the letter.
Include copies (NOT originals) of sales slips or other
documents that support your position. Keep a copy of
your dispute letter.
- 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 two billing cycles (but
not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter.
For more information, see
Credit Billing and Avoiding
Credit and Charge Card Fraud, two brochures available
from the FTC or at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Sample Dispute Letter
For Existing Credit
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Account Number
Name of Creditor
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to
dispute a fraudulent (charge or debit)
attributed to my account in the amount of $______.
I am a
victim of identity theft, and I did not make
this (charge or
debit). I am requesting that the (charge be
removed or the
debit reinstated), that any finance and other
related to the fraudulent amount be credited
as well, and
that I receive an accurate statement.
Enclosed are copies
of (use this sentence to describe any
enclosed information, such as police report)
position. Please investigate this matter and
fraudulent (charge or debit) as soon as possible.
what you are enclosing.)
The Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair
or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that a
creditor has forwarded for collection.
You can stop a debt collector
from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection
agency telling them to stop. Once the debt collector receives
your letter, the company may not contact you again - with
two exceptions: they can tell you there will be no further
contact and they can tell you that the debt collector
or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
A collector also may not
contact you if, within 30 days after you receive the written
notice, you send the collection agency a letter stating
you do not owe the money.
Although such a letter should
stop the debt collector's calls, it will not necessarily
get rid of the debt itself, which may still turn up on
your credit report.
collector can renew collection activities if you are sent
proof of the debt. So, along with your letter stating
you don't owe the money, include copies of documents that
support your position. If you're a victim
of identity theft, including a copy (NOT original) of
the police report you filed may be particularly useful.
If you’re a victim of identity
theft, include a copy (NOT the original) of the police
report. If you don’t have documentation to support your
position, be as specific as possible about why the debt
collector is mistaken.
The debt collector is responsible for sending you proof
that you’re wrong. For example, if the debt in dispute
originates from a credit card you never applied for, ask
for the actual application containing the applicant’s
signature. You can then prove
that it’s not your signature on the application. In many
cases, the debt collector will not send you any proof,
but will instead return the debt to the creditor.
For more information, consult Fair
Debt Collection, a brochure available from the
FTC or at www.consumer.gov/idtheft
Cards, Debit Cards and Electronic Fund Transfers
The Electronic Fund Transfer
Act provides consumer protections for transactions involving
an ATM or debit card or other electronic way to debit
or credit an account. It also limits your liability for
unauthorized electronic fund transfers.
It's important to report
lost or stolen ATM and debit cards immediately because
the amount you can be held responsible for depends on
how quickly you report the loss.
If you report
your ATM card lost or stolen within two business days
of discovering the loss or theft, your losses are
limited to $50.
If you report
your ATM card lost or stolen after the two business
days, but within 60 days after a statement showing
an unauthorized electronic fund transfer, you can
be liable for up to $500 of what a thief withdraws.
If you wait
more than 60 days, you could lose all
the money that was taken from your account after the
end of the 60 days and before you report your card
The best way
to protect yourself in the event of an error or fraudulent
transaction is to call the financial institution and follow
up in writing - by certified letter, return receipt requested
- so you can prove when the institution received your
letter. Keep a copy of the letter you send for your records.
receiving notification about an error on your statement,
the institution generally has 10 business days to investigate.
The financial institution must tell you the results of
its investigation within three business days after completing
it and must correct an error within one business day after
determining that the error has occurred. If the institution
needs more time, it may take up to 45 days to complete
the investigation - but only if the money in dispute is
returned to your account and you are notified promptly
of the credit. At the end of the investigation, if no
error has been found, the institution may take the money
back if it sends you a written explanation.
and MasterCard voluntarily have agreed to limit consumers'
liability for unauthorized use of their debit cards in
most instances to $50 per card, no matter how much time
has elapsed since the discovery of the loss or theft of
For more information, consult
Banking and Credit,
ATM and Debit Cards: What to do if They're Lost or Stolen,
two brochures available from the FTC or at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
FILING A COMPLAINT WITH THE FTC IS IMPORTANT
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, file a complaint
with the FTC by contacting the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline
by telephone: toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD:
202-326-2502; by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal
Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington,
DC 20580; or online:
Although the FTC does not
have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission
can help victims of identity theft by providing information
to assist them in resolving the financial and other problems
that can result from this crime.
By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC,
you will provide important information that can help law
enforcement officials track down identity thieves and
stop them. The FTC also refers victim complaints to other
appropriate government agencies and private organizations
for further action.
federal and state agencies have jurisdiction over specific
aspects of identity theft. If your theft relates to any
of the following categories, contact the agencies directly
for help and information or to initiate an investigation.
having trouble getting your financial institution to help
you resolve your banking-related identity theft problems,
including problems with bank-issued credit cards, contact
the agency with the appropriate jurisdiction. If you’re
not sure which of the agencies listed below has jurisdiction
over your institution, call your bank or visit www.ffiec.gov/enforcement.htm.
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) – www.fdic.gov
The FDIC supervises state-chartered banks that are not
members of the Federal Reserve System and insures deposits
at banks and savings and loans.
the FDIC Consumer Call Center at 1-800-934-3342; or write:
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Compliance
and Consumer Affairs, 550 17th Street, NW, Washington,
Reserve System (Fed) – www.federalreserve.gov
The Fed supervises state-chartered banks that are members
of the Federal Reserve System.
Call: 202-452-3693; or write: Division of Consumer and
Community Affairs, Mail Stop 801, Federal Reserve Board,
Washington, DC 20551; or contact the Federal Reserve Bank
in your area. The 12 Reserve Banks are located in Boston,
New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta,
Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and
National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) – www.ncua.gov
The NCUA charters and supervises federal credit unions
and insures deposits at federal credit unions and many
state credit unions.
703-518-6360; or write: Compliance Officer, National Credit
Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA
of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) – www.occ.treas.gov
The OCC charters and supervises national banks. If the
word “national” appears in the name of a bank, or the
initials “N.A.” follow its name, the OCC oversees its
1-800-613-6743 (business days 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST);
fax: 713-336-4301; write: Customer Assistance Group, 1301
McKinney Street, Suite 3710, Houston, TX 77010.
of Thrift Supervision (OTS) – www.ots.treas.gov
The OTS is the primary regulator of all federal, and many
state-chartered, thrift institutions, which include savings
banks and savings and loan institutions.
202-906-6000; or write: Office of Thrift Supervision,
1700 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20552.
Trustee (UST) – www.usdoj.gov/ust
believe someone has filed for bankruptcy in your name,
write to the U.S. Trustee in the region where the bankruptcy
was filed. A list of the U.S. Trustee Programs’s Regional
Offices is available on the UST website, or check the
Blue Pages of your phone book under U.S. Government Bankruptcy
letter should describe the situation and provide proof
of your identity. The U.S. Trustee, if appropriate, will
make a criminal referral to law enforcement authorities
if you provide appropriate documentation to substantiate
your claim. You also may want to file a complaint with
the U.S. Attorney and/or the FBI in the city where the
bankruptcy was filed. The U.S. Trustee does not provide
legal representation, legal advice or referrals to lawyers.
That means you may need to hire an attorney to help convince
the bankruptcy court that the filing is fraudulent. The
U.S. Trustee does not provide consumers with copies of
court documents. Those documents are available from the
bankruptcy clerk’s office for a fee.
procedures to correct your record within the criminal
justice databases vary from state to state, and even from
county to county, the following information can be used
as a general guide.
criminal violations are attributed to your name, contact
the arresting or citing law enforcement agency – that
is, the police or sheriff’s department that originally
arrested the person using your identity, or the court
agency that issued the warrant for the arrest. File an
impersonation report. And have your identity confirmed:
The police department takes a full set of your fingerprints
and your photograph, and copies any photo identification
documents like your driver’s license, passport or visa.
Ask the law enforcement agency to compare the prints and
photographs with those of the imposter to establish your
innocence. If the arrest warrant is from a state or county
other than where you live, ask your local police department
to send the impersonation report to the police department
in the jurisdiction where the arrest warrant, traffic
citation or criminal conviction originated.
enforcement agency should then recall any warrants and
issue a “clearance letter” or certificate of release (if
you were arrested/booked). You’ll need to keep this document
with you at all times in case you’re wrongly arrested.
Also, ask the law enforcement agency to file, with the
district attorney’s (D.A.) office and/or court where the
crime took place, the record of the follow-up investigation
establishing your innocence. This will result in an amended
complaint being issued. Once your name is recorded in
a criminal database, it’s unlikely that it will be completely
removed from the official record. Ask that the “key name,”
or “primary name,” be changed from your name to the imposter’s
name (or to “John Doe” if the imposter’s true identity
is not known), with your name noted only as an alias.
also want to clear your name in the court records. You’ll
need to determine which state law(s) will help you do
this and how. If your state has no formal procedure for
clearing your record, contact the D.A.’s office in the
county where the case was originally prosecuted. Ask the
D.A.’s office for the appropriate court records needed
to clear your name.
contact your state DMV to find out if your driver’s license
is being used by the identity thief. Ask that your files
be flagged for possible fraud.
need to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you clear
your name. Contact Legal Services in your state or your
local bar association for help in finding an attorney.
think your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief
to get a driver’s license or a non-driver’s ID card, contact
your DMV. If your state uses your SSN as your driver’s
license number, ask to substitute another number.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – www.sec.gov
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Assistance
serves investors who complain to the SEC about investment
fraud or the mishandling of their investments by securities
professionals. If you believe that an identity thief has
tampered with your securities investments or a brokerage
account, immediately report it to your broker or account
manager and to the SEC. You can file a complaint with
the SEC using the online Complaint Center at www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml.
Be sure to include as much detail as possible. If you
don’t have access to the Internet, you can write to the
SEC at: SEC Office of Investor Education and Assistance,
450 Fifth Street, NW, Washington DC, 20549-0213. For general
questions, call 202-942-7040.
Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) – www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect
USPIS is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service
responsible for investigating cases of identity theft.
USPIS has primary jurisdiction in all matters infringing
on the integrity of the U.S. mail. If an identity thief
has stolen your mail to get new credit cards, bank or
credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers or
tax information, has falsified change-of-address forms,
or obtained your personal information through a fraud
conducted by mail, report it to your local postal inspector.
You can locate the USPIS district office nearest you by
calling your local post office or checking the list at
the website above.
States Department of State (USDS) – www.travel.state.gov/passport_services.html
If you’ve lost your passport or believe it was stolen
or is being used fraudulently, contact the USDS through
their website or call a local USDS field office. Local
field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone
identity thief has established phone service in your name,
is making unauthorized calls that seem 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/or calling card. Open new accounts
and choose new PINs. If you’re having trouble getting
fraudulent phone charges removed from your account or
getting an unauthorized account closed, contact the appropriate
agency from the list below.
service, contact your state Public Utility Commission.
phones and long distance, contact the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) – www.fcc.gov.
The FCC regulates interstate and international communications
by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. You can
contact the FCC’s Consumer Information Bureau to find
out about information, forms, applications and current
issues before the FCC. Call: 1-888-CALL-FCC; TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC;
or write: Federal Communications Commission, Consumer
Information Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 5A863, Washington,
DC 20554. You can file complaints via the online complaint
form at www.fcc.gov,
or e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Security Number Theft and Misuse
Security Administration (SSA) – www.socialsecurity.gov
The SSA Office of the Inspector General investigates cases
of identity theft. Report allegations that an SSN has
been stolen or misused to the SSA Fraud Hotline. Call:
1-800- 269-0271; fax: 410-597-0118; write: SSA Fraud Hotline,
P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235; or e-mail: email@example.com.
call SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the accuracy of the
earnings reported on your SSN, and to request a copy of
your Social Security Statement. Follow up in writing.
Revenue Service (IRS) – www.treas.gov/irs/ci
The IRS is responsible for administering and enforcing
tax laws. If you believe someone has assumed your identity
to file federal Income Tax Returns, or to commit other
tax fraud, call toll-free: 1-800-829-0433. Victims of
identity theft who are having trouble filing their returns
should call the IRS Taxpayer Advocates Office, toll-free:
Trade Commission (FTC) – www.ftc.gov
The FTC is educating consumers and businesses about the
importance of personal information privacy. Here are some
additional publications you may find useful. To request
a free copy, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
of Justice (DOJ) – www.usdoj.gov
The DOJ and its U.S. Attorneys prosecute federal identity
theft cases. Information on identity theft is available
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – www.fbi.gov
The FBI, a criminal law enforcement agency, investigates
cases of identity theft. The FBI recognizes that identity
theft is a component of many crimes including bank fraud,
mail fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, insurance fraud,
fraud against the government, and terrorism. Local field
offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone
Yourself Against Identity Fraud – www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/2002/june2002/june02leb.htm
Secret Service (USSS) – www.treas.gov/usss
The U.S. Secret Service investigates financial crimes,
which may include identity theft. Although the Secret
Service generally investigates cases where the dollar
loss is substantial, your information may provide evidence
of a larger pattern of fraud requiring their involvement.
Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your
Crimes Division –
Asked Questions: Protecting Yourself – www.treas.gov/usss/faq.shtml#protect
IT'S THE LAW
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, enacted
by Congress in October 1998 (and codified, in part, at
18 U.S.C. §1028) is the federal law making identity theft
Identity Theft and Assumption
Deterrence Act of 1998
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act makes
it a federal crime when someone “knowingly transfers
or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification
of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid
or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation
of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any
applicable state or local law.”
Under the Act, a name or SSN is considered a “means
of identification.” So is a credit card number, cellular
telephone electronic serial number or any other piece
of information that may be used alone or in conjunction
with other information to identify a specific individual.
Violations of the Act are investigated by federal law
enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service,
the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and SSA’s
Office of the Inspector General. Federal identity theft
cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In most instances, a conviction for identity theft carries
a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, a fine and
forfeiture of any personal property used or intended
to be used to commit the crime. Pursuant to the Act,
the U.S. Sentencing Commission has developed federal
sentencing guidelines to provide appropriate penalties
for those persons convicted of identity theft.
Schemes to commit identity theft or fraud also may involve
violations of other statutes, such as credit card fraud,
computer fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, financial institution
fraud, or Social Security fraud. Each of these federal
offenses is a felony and carries substantial penalties
– in some cases, as high as 30 years in prison as well
as fines and criminal forfeiture.
Many states have passed laws related to identity theft;
others are considering such legislation. Where specific
identity theft laws do not exist, the practices may be
prohibited under other laws. Contact your State Attorney
General’s office (for a list of state offices, visit www.naag.org)
or local consumer protection agency for laws related to
identity theft, or visit
www.consumer.gov/idtheft. State laws enacted at the
time of this booklet’s publication are listed below.
Instructions for Completing
the ID Theft Affidavit
To make certain that you
do not become responsible for the debts incurred by the
identity thief, you must provide proof that you didn’t
create the debt to each of the companies where accounts
were opened or used in your name.
A working group composed
of credit grantors, consumer advocates and the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) developed this ID Theft Affidavit
to help you report information to many companies using
just one standard form. Use of this affidavit is optional
for companies. While many companies accept this affidavit,
others require that you submit more or different forms.
Before you send the affidavit, contact each company to
find out if they accept it.
You can use this affidavit
where a new account was opened in your name. The information
will enable the companies to investigate the fraud and
decide the outcome of your claim. (If someone made unauthorized
charges to an existing account, call the company to find
out what to do.)
This affidavit has two
- ID Theft Affidavit is
where you report general information about yourself
and the theft.
- Fraudulent Account Statement
is where you describe the fraudulent account(s) opened
in your name. Use a separate Fraudulent Account Statement
for each company you need to write to.
When you send the affidavit
to the companies, attach copies (NOT originals) of any
supporting documents (for example, driver’s license, police
report) you have. Before submitting your affidavit, review
the disputed account(s) with family members or friends
who may have information about the account(s) or access
Complete this affidavit as
soon as possible. Many creditors ask that you send it
within two weeks of receiving it. Delaying could slow
Be as accurate and complete
as possible. You may choose not to provide some of the
information requested. However, incorrect or incomplete
information will slow the process of investigating your
claim and absolving the debt. Please print clearly.
When you have finished completing
the affidavit, mail a copy to each creditor, bank or company
that provided the thief with the unauthorized credit,
goods or services you describe. Attach to each affidavit
a copy of the Fraudulent Account Statement with information
only on accounts opened at the institution receiving the
packet, as well as any other supporting documentation
you are able to provide.
Send the appropriate documents
to each company by certified mail, return receipt requested,
so you can prove that it was received. The companies will
review your claim and send you a written response telling
you the outcome of their investigation. Keep a copy of
everything you submit for your records.
If you cannot complete the
affidavit, a legal guardian or someone with power of attorney
may complete it for you. Except as noted, the information
you provide will be used only by the company to process
your affidavit, investigate the events you report and
help stop further fraud. If this affidavit is requested
in a lawsuit, the company might have to provide it to
the requesting party.
Completing this affidavit does not guarantee that the
identity thief will be prosecuted or that the debt will
If you haven’t already
done so, report the fraud to the following organizations:
1. Each of the three national
consumer reporting agencies. Ask each agency to place
a “fraud alert” on your credit report, and send you
a copy of your credit file. When you have completed
your affidavit packet, you may want to send them a copy
to help them investigate the disputed
Equifax Credit Information
(800) 525-6285/ TDD 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator
to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111
to obtain a copy of your report.
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
(888) 397-3742/ TDD (800) 972-0322
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
(800) 680-7289/ TDD (877) 553-7803
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
2. The fraud department
at each creditor, bank, or utility/service that provided
the identity thief with unauthorized credit, goods or
services. This would be a good time to find out if the
company accepts this affidavit, and whether they require
notarization or a copy of the police report.
3. Your local police department.
Ask the officer to take a report and give you a copy
of the report. Sending a copy of your police report
to financial institutions can speed up the process of
absolving you of wrongful debts or removing inaccurate
information from your credit reports. If you can’t get
a copy, at least get the number of the report.
4. The FTC, which maintains
the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse – the federal
government’s centralized identity theft complaint database
– and provides information to identity theft victims.
You can visit
www.consumer.gov/idtheft or call toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT
The FTC collects complaints
from identity theft victims and shares their information
with law enforcement agencies nationwide. This information
also may be shared with other government agencies, consumer
reporting agencies, and companies where the fraud was
perpetrated to help resolve identity theft-related problems.
When you contact
us with complaints or requests for information, you can
contact us online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft;
by telephone, toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338);
or by mail: Federal Trade Commission, Identity Theft Clearinghouse,
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Before
you do, there are a few things you should know.
We enter the information you send into our electronic
database – the Identity Theft Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse
is a system of records covered under the Privacy Act of
1974. In general, the Privacy Act prohibits unauthorized
disclosures of the records it protects. It also gives
individuals the right to review records about themselves.
Learn more about your Privacy Act rights and the FTC’s
Privacy Act procedures by contacting the FTC’s Freedom
of Information Act Office: 202-326-2430;
The information you submit is shared with our attorneys
and investigators. It also may be shared with employees
of various other federal, state, or local law enforcement
or regulatory authorities. We also may share information
with certain private entities, such as credit bureaus
and any companies you may have complained about, where
we believe that doing so might assist in resolving identity
theft-related problems. You may be contacted by the FTC
or any of the agencies or private entities to whom your
complaint has been referred. In other limited circumstances,
including requests from Congress, we may be required by
law to disclose information you submit.
You have the option to submit your information anonymously.
However, if you do not provide your name and contact information,
law enforcement and other entities will not be able to
contact you to obtain additional information to assist
in identity theft investigations and prosecutions.
| The FTC works
for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive
and unfair business practices in the marketplace
and to provide information to help consumers spot,
stop and avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free
information on consumer issues, visit
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357);
TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing,
identity theft and other fraud-related complaints
a secure, online database available to hundreds
of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in
the U.S. and abroad.