Lots of people have lots of questions about identity theft. It's very likely you're one of them. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and our best answers.
• I think I might be a victim of identity theft. What do I do?
It's a good idea to go ahead and place a fraud alert on your credit report. It will last 90 days. You only need to call one bureau; that one will alert the other two. Monitor your credit reports afterward for any unusual or unauthorized activity. Keep an eye on your bank account and credit card statements as well.
• How do I find out if someone has opened new accounts in my name?
Order a copy of your credit report, and review it carefully to see if there are any accounts you don't recognize. If you find any, contact the creditor, report the theft and close the accounts to minimize damage.
• Debt collectors are calling me about accounts I know nothing about. What do I do?
Check your credit reports to verify the accounts exist, and call those creditors, as well as write them, and have the accounts closed. Be sure to request copies of the application and transaction records that were used on the account. To do so, you'll need a copy of a filed police report, so make sure you contact the police and keep copies of the report handy.
• My Social Security number was stolen. Should I change my number?
This is not a good idea, as your number is no doubt tied to many documents and reports and doing so would mean a great deal of wrestling with the Social Security Administration.
• I reviewed my credit report and found incorrect information. How can I change it?
Contact the credit bureau in writing, detailing the error. That bureau then has 30 days to investigate the error and get back to you. If an error is found, it must be corrected. If the investigation does not resolve the issue, you have the right to write a 100-word statement regarding the error, which must be added to your file.