Identity Theft

Identity Theft Prosecution

Identity Theft occurs when the defendant obtains a victim's personal identification without consent, and the defendant uses that personal identification for a fraudulent purpose by pretending to be the victim. Personal Identification includes social security cards, social security numbers, names, address, e-mail addresses, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and signatures, amongst other things.

What to do if you are a victim of Identity Theft

First: File a report with your local law enforcement agency, or the agency located where the identity theft occurred. Keep copies of this report because some creditors may want proof that a crime was reported.

Second: Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, including a statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts in your name. At the same time, ask the credit bureaus for copies of your credit reports. They must give you a free copy if you believe it to be inaccurate because of fraud. Review the report carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

Third: Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department, and tell them what has happened. Take note of who you spoke with and when and ask them for their direct phone number. Finally, follow up your conversation with a letter. Following up with a letter is one of the procedures spelled out in the Fair Credit Billing Act for resolving errors on credit billing statements, including charges that you have not made.

Other Tips:

  • If you had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers, or change banks.
  • Consider changing your driver's license number if someone is using yours as identification on bad checks. Contact DMV to see if a license was issued in your name. Put a fraud alert on your license.
  • Shred junk mail and personal documents before discarding or recycling. To remove your name from pre-screened credit card mailing lists, call 1-888-567-8688.
  • If your mailbox does not have a lock, consider having your mail sent to a secured post office box, or for rural delivery, consider installing a locking mailbox.
  • If you are concerned about being re-victimized in the future, consider a credit freeze with all three credit bureaus. Stolen personal information is often circulated in the black market for several years and may be used well after the initial theft.