Ask for a Fraud Alert
If you think your identity has been stolen, notify the credit reporting bureaus right away. A “fraud alert” is a flag on your credit report that makes it hard for other people to open new accounts in your name. Usually, if you ask for a fraud alert through one credit bureau, they tell the other two credit bureaus that you need a fraud alert. Use these links or phone numbers:
Or Ask for a Credit Freeze
To freeze your credit report, you do need to fill out forms at each of the three credit reporting bureaus.
If you want to completely prohibit the release of your credit file to potential new lenders, you may want a security freeze. The security freeze will stop new lenders from accessing your credit file. This would prevent you and others from opening new accounts in your name. But note that not all lenders review a credit report before offering credit.
Learn more about the difference between a freeze and a fraud alert on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.
Use Form Letters to Dispute Charges
To protect your credit, you must contact credit bureaus, creditors and debt collectors if there are charges on accounts in your name.
When you send your letters, be sure to keep copies. Also gather the following documents to send copies with the letters:
- proof of your identity (a copy of a driver’s license, passport or social security card)
- a copy of any letter you’ve received from the person you are contacting (any letters you’ve received from debt collectors or bills for things you have not purchased)
- a copy of your credit report with incorrect items circled
- a police report / identity theft report if you’ve made one
Letter to a Credit Bureau
Create a letter to send to all three credit bureaus to ask them to investigate and remove items from your credit report that are the result of identity theft.
Letter to Creditor – For a New, Fraudulent Account
A “creditor” is someone directly collecting their own bill. Send this letter to a business, such as a utility, where an account was created without your consent.
Letter to Creditor – For Charges on Existing Account
Use this letter for charges to an existing account that you didn’t make or authorize.
Letter to a Debt Collector
A “debt collector” is someone who is collecting a debt that was made with someone else (sometimes called the original creditor). A debt collector is sometimes referred to as a collection agency. If you did not notice that your identity was being used right away, you may have to deal with a debt collector. Use this letter to notify a debt collector that you did not authorize the expense. You have rights when it comes to debt collection. Learn more on our Debt Collection section of our website.
Additional form letters are available here. You can also find letters in this booklet from the FTC: Identity Theft: A Recovery Plan.