If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, there are a number of important steps you should follow. Be prepared to document all unauthorized transactions and to be patient - the process can take a number of months.
Clearing up problems caused by identity theft can be a time intensive, as well as an emotional and frustrating process. It can take weeks, and even months, of work contacting creditors and credit reporting bureaus. DO NOT GIVE UP. Exercise all of your consumer rights, you may want to retain an attorney if creditors and credit reporting bureaus are not cooperating with your efforts to clear your name and credit.
Use this IDENTITY THEFT CHECKLIST AND JOURNAL to keep track of your contacts as you work through the steps below.
Please note: This site is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as policy of the State of Colorado. Readers desiring advice in particular cases should consult an attorney or other expert.
What to do if your identity is stolen:
If the theft involves existing bank accounts (checking or savings accounts as well as credit or debit cards) you should take the following steps:
- Close all affected credit card accounts and checking accounts accessible by debit card
- Open up new accounts protected with a secret password or personal identification number (“PIN”). Do not use the same passwords or PINs as on the original accounts.
- Do not use common numbers (like birth dates, part of your social security number), or commonly chosen words (such as a child’s, spouse’s, or pet’s name) as passwords or PINs.
- Ask the bank to notify the check verification company it uses. Report the stolen checks to the three major check verification companies. Ask retailers not accept the checks on your closed account. To find out if the identity thief has passed checks in your name, call SCAN at 1.800.262.7771.
- TeleCheck 1-800-710-9898
- Certegy, Inc 1-800-437-8120
- International Check Services 1-800-631-9656
Obtaining a police report will help you in dealing with your banks, creditors, and the major credit reporting bureaus (see Step 4).
You can report the identity theft to all three of the major credit bureaus by calling any one of the toll-free fraud numbers below. You will reach an automated telephone system and you will not be able to speak to or with anyone at this time. The system will ask you to enter your Social Security number and other information to identify yourself. The automated system allows you to flag your file with a fraud alert. This helps stop a thief from opening new accounts in your name because you must then be contacted directly before any new credit is taken out in your name. Second, when you get a report from your local law enforcement agency (Step 2), file it immediately with the credit reporting bureaus. Colorado laws requires the credit bureau then block any new, negative credit information resulting from the theft of your identity. A fraud report filed with one bureau will be shared with the other bureaus. As a victim of identity theft, you will be sent a free copy of your credit report by each of the credit bureaus.
You can contact the fraud units at each of the bureaus as follows:
Call creditors for any accounts the thief opened or used. When you call, ask for the security fraud department. Examples of creditors are credit card companies, other lenders, phone, or other utility companies and department stores. Tell them you are an identity theft victim.
File a law enforcement report, or the FTC's ID Theft Affidavit, with each creditor (some may require you use their own form of affidavit).
- Keep copies of all correspondence and documents exchanged with each creditor.
- Cancel all affected credit card accounts and open replacement accounts. Ask those cancelled accounts to be processed as "account closed at customer's request" to avoid any negative reporting to credit bureaus.
If the identity theft involves the misuse of a long-distance telephone account, cellular telephone, or other telephone service, contact your telephone or wireless company and immediately close all affected accounts. If replacement accounts require passwords or PINs to access, do not use the same passwords or PINs as on the original accounts.
If you suspect your mail has been stolen or diverted with a false change-of-address request, contact your local postal inspector. You can obtain the address and telephone number of your local postal inspector by visiting the United States Postal Service web site.
If you suspect someone is using your social security number to obtain credit or employment, contact the Social Security Administration's fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 (TTY: 1-866-501-2101) or the website.
To check the accuracy of your work history, order a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) and check it for accuracy. You can obtain a PEBES application at your local Social Security office or you can download one from the mySocial Security web site .
If your passport has been stolen, notify the passport office on their website or call for information at 1.877.487.2778.
If a collection agency contacts you about a debt for which you are not responsible, immediately notify them you did not create the debt and you are a victim of identity theft. Follow up with the collection agency and creditor in writing and include a copy of your law enforcement report or ID Theft Affidavit. Send your letter, and copy of the report or affidavit, “return receipt requested,” or with some other process that gives you proof the collection agency received your letter. If the collection agency continues to contact you, file a complaint online or contact:
If your Colorado driver’s license/ID has been lost or stolen, you may request an ALERT on your motor vehicle record so further fraud MAY be deterred. PLEASE BE AWARE, an ALERT may cause closer scrutiny of anyone - INCLUDING YOU - who tries to obtain a license/ID in your name or gives your identification information to law enforcement personnel. The ALERT applies to Motor Vehicle records only. We cannot guarantee it will prevent fraudulent use of your driver’s license/ID:
Write a short statement about the situation and include a SPECIFIC request for the ALERT, your name, date of birth, driver license/ID number, Social Security number, and your signature.
Deliver or mail the request to:
Colorado Motor Vehicle Investigations Unit
1881 Pierce St., Room 136
Lakewood, CO 80214
Colorado Driver’s License/ID with a New PIN - If you have evidence that your Colorado driver license/ID number has been used fraudulently and you filed a police report regarding the fraud, you may apply for a new Colorado driver license/ID to prevent further fraudulent use:
- Complete the Colorado Affidavit of Theft form and have your signature notarized.
- Take (do not mail) the Affidavit of Theft form together with your police report to a FULL SERVICE driver’s license office.