Each one of these questions represents a possible risk factor or protection against ID theft.
Your score: ____________
Range: -15 to +100.
If you scored 85 – 100 consider yourself savvy about identity theft risks; continue your proactive steps.
If you scored 45 – 84 you need to consider your identity theft risk factors more closely and take some corrective actions.
If you scored below 45, you are at high risk of becoming this crime’s next victim! Please make the effort to become more informed about identity theft and the simple steps you can take to minimize your risk.
This guide covers:
In addition to financial identity theft, there is also: criminal, governmental, medical and identity theft. Depending on the severity and complexity of your case there may be varying of difficulty in clearing your record. A stolen credit card is easier to resolve than clearing your name after someone fraudulently used your SSN to work and has filed for bankruptcy under your name. If at any time you need support or additional information, please contact the ITRC at 888-400-5530.
ITRC Fact Sheet 100A will give you a brief description and advice on the more difficult aspects of different types of identity theft. To read about each in more detail, please refer to the links under each category. We suggest you look over our victim assistance fact sheets and/or solutions for any that you may find helpful on other topics.
Someone Working Under Your Name: When someone is working as you, several types of problems may occur, on both the federal and state level. (Please see ITRC Solution 27). The first step is to contact the Social Security Administration and ask for a detailed non-certified copy of your work history. Click hereto download the application. Review the report carefully to see if there is anything suspicious such as work history in a state that you have never lived in.
Government Benefit Fraud: (this can be due to identity theft or simply clerical error)
IRS issues: (Please see ITRC Solution 27) Some victims find out about an identity theft case when the following issues occur. In all of these situations, the initial step is to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 800-908-4490.
You also may contact the IRS Taxpayer Advocate if you have an unresolved issue related to identity theft, or you have suffered, or are about to suffer a significant hardship as a result of the administration of the tax laws, i.e. wage garnishment. Visit the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)Identity Theft webpage. Additional information is also available on the IRS website.
Examples of IRS issues include:
Debt Collection: Never pay a bill that you don’t owe. See ITRC Fact Sheet 116 for complete details.
Bankruptcy Issues: All bankruptcies need to be addressed by the Office of the Trustee of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Under federal law, bankruptcies declared by an imposter can be reversed. This is a situation in which you may wish to consult an attorney to make sure the paperwork is filed correctly. For more information read “Fresh Start or False Start - Identity Theft and Bankruptcy Cases” by the Office for U.S. Trustees http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/public_affairs/articles/docs/idtheftfinal.htm
· If you are planning on filing fbankruptcy yourself, but are experiencing identity theft, make sure you do not include any of the fraudulently opened accounts in your bankruptcy. Including them means you take responsibility for them and they can no longer be considered identity theft. Read ITRC Fact Sheet 100 for instructions on how to clear these accounts.
· If you have already filed for bankruptcy, and have included accounts that are part of your identity theft into your petition for bankruptcy, there is not much that can be done. Including accounts in a bankruptcy means you take full responsibility for them and any debt you may be held responsible for on them in the future. If you know who the thief is you may be able to civilly sue them for the amount owed. Speak to the Office of the Trustee of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Speak to an attorney about your rights.
Fraudulent Change of Address: If you suspect mail theft or mail fraud, contact the U.S. Postal Inspectors (USPIS) at 800-275-8777. When you move, a “change address form” is sent to both the new address and old address. Should you receive a notification and you haven’t moved, this is a warning to contact the USPIS immediately. A contact phone number is provided on the form you receive.
Student Loans: If it appears that someone has applied for and received a student loan in your name without your approval, you need to take action quickly. If you already have proof of a problem, call the U.S. Dept. of Education Inspector General’s Hotline: (800) MIS-USED (800-647-8733). Also, contact the three Credit Reporting Agencies (See ITRC Solution 3) and order copies of all three of your credit reports.
Report any fraudulent activity to the police by filing a police report. A police report will help you to establish your status as a victim and provides you specific rights under state and federal laws.
In some cases, parents apply for student loans under their children’s names and the police mistakenly believe that since the victim benefited from the loan, it is not a crime. That is not true. Any use of your information without your consent is fraud and a crime. If you are unsure of how to proceed due to family issues, contact the ITRC toll-free at 888-400-5530.
DMV issues: When you become aware that someone else may have a driver’s license with your information, you need to speak with the DMV fraud investigator or Department of Public Safety in your state, or in the state where the problem is occurring. This action will start an investigation to determine the real license holder. Should you lose your driver’s license, you will need to go back into your local office and have it replaced. Bring identifying information with you so that they can ensure you are the true licensee and not an imposter.
Property Deeds: Lost/Stolen property deeds should be reported to the County Register’s office. Fraud involving a property deed should be reported to the County Register’s Office in the state where the property is located as well as the victim’s local police department.
US Savings Bonds: If your US Saving’s bond is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you will need to report it to the US Department of Treasury. Form PD P 0107 will guide you through the process. If the bond was stolen, file a police report for the theft.
Identity Theft in Domestic Situations: (Please refer to ITRC Fact Sheets 115 – When you personally know the identity thief and ITRC Fact Sheet 115A if it is a spouse.) Each case is unique. Identity theft in a domestic situation has a varied emotional and financial impact on the victim. This requires the assistance of a specially trained advocate. Please contact the ITRC toll-free at 888-400-5530.
Medical Identity Theft: You might find this has occurred if you receive a bill for medical or pharmacy services, or you have been alerted, via an Explanation of Benefits, from your health insurance company of the use of your health insurance information. Refer to ITRC Fact Sheet 130 and ITRC Fact Sheet 130A for this type of case.
Checking Accounts: Please refer to ITRC Fact Sheet 126, which goes through this issue in detail. You should file a police report in any of the following situations and send a copy of the police report to any creditors affected by the identity theft.
There are several types of checking account issues, including:
In some states, a bounced check may eventually result in a warrant for your arrest. You need to clear the account problem with the bank and merchant, and also have that bank or merchant contact law enforcement to drop all charges. You will need to follow-up with the issuer of the warrant (usually the District Attorney’s Office) to be assured that the warrant is withdrawn. Don’t forget to get a “Letter of Clearance” that you will keep permanently.
This guide discusses the sets of documents that each victim is recommended to keep:
Identity theft cases can become very complex. You may be dealing with multiple jurisdictions. There may be numerous instances of unauthorized and fraudulent use of your identity. You may have had more conversations about your case than you can keep track of in your head. In order to become an effective, strong advocate for your case, it is vital to impose a form of organization on your case from the first day.
This is a chronological and detailed journal of events which is best kept in a bound booklet, ledger-type book or electronic document.
The items below will become the basis of your request for restitution, but you have the burden of proving these costs occurred. The judge has the right to refuse anything he/she deems unreasonable. Keep in mind restitution is the court’s effort to make you financially whole by recovering legitimate expenses. Punitive damages are not recoverable via restitution.
If possible, we recommend you attend all court hearings from the Arraignment on. Take notes. Who was the judge? Who was the DA that day? What was said by the DA, the defense attorney, the defendant, and the judge? When is the next court date? What will occur then? Ask questions of the DA after your case is heard if you aren’t certain about what happened or what will happen next. See ITRC Fact Sheet FS 109 - The Court Experience for guidelines on what might occur.
From one victim: “ During the sentencing phase of my case, I noted that the imposter was prohibited from collecting personal data from any persons unless she provided to them a written notice that she was a convicted felon of false personation. Just before the review hearing, the police did a search of her home. They found more unauthorized employee applications plus more information about me. When I was questioned by the police about this, I reminded them of this probation requirement. The probation summary didn’t note it, so the judge ordered a copy of the sentencing transcript. The imposter ended up serving jail time for probation violations --- because I did my homework and had taken good notes”.
Some people need to vent, to write down their frustrations, emotions, and fears. Write down your suspicions and emotional outbursts in a separate journal from the official log of the case. As your case goes on, you will forget these small details unless they are documented. Do not show this to any other person except your own attorney should you decide to proceed with a civil case (family court actions, punitive damages, etc.). This notebook is for you and you alone.
We advise that you file away all papers as soon as you receive them.
As victims of identity theft, we are often left on our own, without a guide through the maze of reestablishing our good credit and name. The ITRC is here to help. Please contact us with your questions.