As someone who’s had their identity stolen, you’re probably wondering how to report identity theft. Follow this guide to learn how to report identity theft to the FTC and police, as well as additional steps you can take if you lose your identity.
But reporting shouldn’t be your only method of defense, as identity theft protection services like LifeLock can monitor your personal information and alert you if it’s ever in danger. And if your identity is ever stolen, LifeLock can help you restore your identity and recover peace of mind.
How to report identity theft to the FTC
If you’ve been affected by identity theft, you should report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). By reporting your situation to the FTC, you open up an investigation that can help restore your credit and recover your identity. To report identity theft to the FTC, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to the FTC’s identity theft portal
The first step for reporting identity theft to the FTC is visiting IdentityTheft.gov. From there, you can complete an identity theft report, access a recovery plan, and follow their recommended next steps.
Step 2: Fill out the identity theft affidavit
To start the identity theft reporting process, you'll fill out an identity theft affidavit, which is your official identity theft report to the FTC.
While filling out the identity theft affidavit, you’ll be asked to provide the following personal information:
- Full legal name
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
- Primary address
- Phone numbers
- Email address
Keep in mind that you’re allowed to decide which personally identifiable information you’d like to provide the FTC. Once you complete the identity theft affidavit, the FTC will store your personal information in a secure online database so other law enforcement agencies can easily access it during the identity theft investigation.
Be sure to keep a copy of your completed identity theft affidavit for your records, as it will be helpful in reporting the loss of your identity to your local police department, financial institution, credit card providers, and anywhere else you may need to report it.
Step 3: View and follow your recovery plan
After you’ve completed your identity theft report, the FTC will provide you with a personalized plan to help try to resolve the lasting effects of identity theft. For example, if an identity thief stole your credit card information and used it for credit card fraud, the FTC will provide you with steps to report the fraudulent purchases.
The FTC will even provide you with pre-filled form letters you can use to quickly and easily report identity theft to any necessary parties. Your recovery plan will also include a personalized checklist you can use to help keep track of your identity theft reporting tasks.
Alternative method: Call the FTC
Even though the FTC recommends filing your identity theft report online, you can also call them at 1-877-FTC-HELP to file your report. This is a great option for those who don't want to file their report online or feel more comfortable on the phone.
How to report identity theft to the police
While your main focus should be reporting identity theft to the FTC, there are three situations where it is also recommended to file an identity theft police report with your local department:
- You know the identity thief, or you have other information that could aid a police investigation.
- An identity thief used your name in an encounter with the police, such as a traffic stop.
- A creditor, debt collector, or other affected party insists you produce a police report.
If any of the above situations apply to you, follow the these steps to report identity theft to the police:
Step 1: Gather necessary information
Before you can report identity theft to the police, you’ll need to gather the following information:
- A copy of your FTC identity theft report
- A government-issued photo ID
- Proof of address, such as a mortgage statement, utility bill, etc.
- Proof of identity theft, such as credit card statements, IRS notices, etc.
Step 2: File a police report
Once you have the above information, follow your local police department’s steps for filing an official police report. When speaking to the police officer, be sure to stay calm but firm, and include as much information as possible about your situation.
You’ll also want to make sure you remain flexible, as the officer may send you to a website to fill out a form rather than taking your information in person.
Step 3: Obtain a copy of your police report
Just like you did after filing a report with the FTC, you’ll want to obtain a copy of your police report for your personal records. After all, you may need a copy of the official police report to help inform creditors and credit bureaus about your situation as you take additional steps to recover from identity theft.
In the event that the police are unable or unwilling to take your report, you might consider contacting your state attorney general’s office. Certain states may have different processes for filing a report, and your state attorney general’s office may be able to help.
When you should report identity theft
While it may take some time before you notice that someone has stolen your identity, you’ll want to report it immediately after you see anything suspicious. Some warning signs of identity theft include:
- Charges for items you didn’t purchase
- Debt collection calls for accounts you didn’t open
- Unfamiliar inquiries on your credit report
- Denials for loan applications
- A random decrease in mail
- An unexpected credit score drop
If any of these things happen to you, quickly follow the steps detailed above to ensure you’re reporting identity theft as soon as you can.
How filing an identity theft report helps protect you
Why is it important to report identity theft? If you are a victim of identity theft, it means someone has taken your personal information and used it to commit fraud in your name.
Filing a report:
- Acts as a declaration of your innocence
- Helps start the investigation
A police report serves as a sworn statement that you were not responsible for any crimes the thief committed using your name. If someone accuses you of a crime committed in your name, you can show them your sworn statement.
Filing a report at IdentityTheft.gov serves a similar purpose. It’s an official statement about the crime.
It's important to note that the FTC recommends filing a report with them first and including it when you file a police report. Keep in mind that with either report, you’re legally obligated to tell the truth to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t, you could face criminal penalties.
Additional steps to take if your identity is stolen
After filing the necessary reports, there are additional steps you can take to help reduce the damage of identity theft, including:
- Alerting the three major credit bureaus: Informing Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion of your current situation is crucial in minimizing the damage of identity theft. Placing a fraud alert with each bureau can also make it harder for an identity thief to continue opening accounts in your name. Keep in mind that you’ll need to renew the fraud alert every 90 days until your issue has been resolved.
- Freezing your credit: Freezing your credit stops anyone from requesting your credit report, further preventing identity thieves from opening accounts or taking out loans in your name.
- Reviewing your credit card and bank statements: Keeping a close eye on your credit card and bank statements can help you quickly identify if an identity thief has compromised any of your other accounts.
- Alerting your credit card companies: Telling your credit card companies that your identity has been compromised and requesting new account numbers and cards can help stop the identity thief from using your information for fraudulent purposes.
- Changing your passwords: If any of your accounts, such as your online banking accounts, are compromised, you’ll want to update your passwords to keep identity thieves away from your private information. When updating your password security, avoid using common words and phrases, and prioritize password length. Because you want to avoid reusing passwords across accounts, you might consider using a secure password manager to help keep track of all your passwords.
- Adding two-factor authentication (2FA): Enabling 2FA is another great way to provide an additional layer of security between identity thieves and your online accounts. That way, even if an identity thief finds one of your passwords, they won't be able to log in without your say.
- Using identity theft protection services: Identity theft protection services like LifeLock can help reduce the risk of identity theft by scanning websites and patrolling the dark web to check if your personal information has been compromised. Additionally, LifeLock can alert you of any fraudulent uses of your Social Security number and provide you with access to identity restoration specialists who can help you if your identity is stolen.
Following these additional steps ensures you’re doing everything you can to prevent identity thieves from causing any further damage after you’ve reported your issues to the FTC and police.
Help safeguard your identity with LifeLock
Reporting identity theft shouldn’t be the only step you take to protect your identity. Using identity theft protection services like LifeLock can help keep your personal information out of identity thieves' hands. Plus, if an identity thief ever does steal your identity, LifeLock has professionals who can help handle your case and restore your identity.
FAQs about how to report identity theft
Learn the answers to common questions surrounding identity theft and the reporting process.
How can I find out if someone is using my Social Security number?
Identity theft protection services like LifeLock include Social Security number monitoring features that can alert you if any fraudulent use of your Social Security number is detected. Alternatively, you can check your credit reports for suspicious activity and contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490 if you believe that someone is using your Social Security number.
What happens after you file a police report for identity theft?
Once you’ve finished filing a police report for identity theft, an officer will follow up with you to discuss the next steps. This can sometimes be a long process, as identity theft is often a lower-priority case for many police officers.
What should you do if you’re unable to file a police report?
As previously mentioned, not all cases involve reporting identity theft to the police. If your specific identity theft situation does, you may want to reach out to your state attorney general’s office for more information about reporting identity theft to law enforcement.
On the other hand, if your identity theft case doesn’t require police involvement, you’ll want to file a report with the FTC and follow the additional steps listed above.