What are the steps to fix identity theft on Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union credit reports? This is a complex question with many moving parts. To start:
- Check your credit reports for any signs of identity theft. Review your credit reports for accounts or information that does not belong to you. This may include names, aliases, addresses, and employment history that do not belong to you. It may also include accounts that you did not open, or charges to existing accounts that you did not make.
- Place an Initial Fraud Alert on your credit reports. A fraud alert is free, and it requires business to verify your identity before issuing new credit in your name. This helps prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You can place an initial fraud alert on your credit report by contacting the three CRA's below. You should get a letter from each credit bureau confirming they placed a fraud alert on your file.
- Contact the fraud departments at the companies where the fraud has occurred. Notify the companies that you are a victim of identity theft and demand that they close the accounts. If you have obtained an FTC Identity Theft Report and/or a police report, then you may also consider sending each company a letter disputing the fraud and including those documents with your dispute.
- Change your passwords, logins, and pin numbers for your accounts. Do not re-use old passwords, and be sure to use passwords that cannot be easily guessed.
- Obtain an Identity Theft Affidavit Report with the FTC. The Identity Theft Report is critical to the remaining steps below. This report triggers specific legal obligations for the credit bureaus when they receive your disputes.
- File a report with your local police department, and obtain a copy of the police report. After you receive a your FTC Identity Theft Report, take it to your local police department and file a police report. Tell the police that you are a victim of identity theft, and provide as much detail as possible including any documents that may support your case (bills, letters, credit reports, etc.). If the police department refuses to give you a police report, provide them with a letter from the FTC Memo to Law Enforcement regarding the importance of the identity theft reports. The police report combined with your FTC Identity Theft Report will become important tools in correcting the harm caused by identity theft.
- Send disputes to the credit reporting agencies. As part of your disputes explain that you are a victim of identity theft and specify what information in your credit file is the result of fraud. If you have an FTC Identity Theft Report and/or a police report, then be sure to include those documents with your dispute. If you include an FTC Identity Theft Report, the credit bureaus must block the fraudulent information from your credit reports. If you don't have an FTC Identity Theft Report, you should still send a dispute. It will initiate a different type of investigation by the credit bureaus, but it will still result in the information being investigated and hopefully removed from your credit reports.