The FTC unveiled a new tool today to assist victims of identity theft restore their good names. The ID Theft Affidavit provides a model form that can be used to report information to many companies, simplifying the process of alerting companies where a new account was opened in the victim's name. Previously, victims of identity theft often had to fill out a separate reporting form for each fraudulent account opened by the identity thief. Developed by the FTC in conjunction with banks, credit grantors and consumer advocates, the ID Theft Affidavit is accepted by participating credit issuers, retailers, banks, and other financial institutions. For a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit, log on to www.identitytheft.gov, or call 1.877.ID.THEFT.
"During 2001, ID theft was the number one consumer fraud complaint received by the FTC," stated Timothy J. Muris, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. "ID thieves steal personal information, such as a credit card account number or Social Security number. Then they open up accounts in the victim's name and run up charges on the account, or use the personal information to charge goods and services to the victim. The ID Theft Affidavit simplifies the process of remedying the injury inflicted by identity theft. "
If you find that you're a victim of ID theft, the FTC urges you to:
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and report the theft. Ask that a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
- Equifax: 1.800.525.6285
- Experian: 1.888.397.3742
- Trans Union: 1.800.680.7289
- For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the security department of the appropriate creditor or financial institution. Close these accounts. Put passwords (not your mother's maiden name or Social Security number) on any new accounts you open.
- File a report with local police or the police where the identity theft took place. Get the report number or a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company or others need proof of the crime later.
- Call the ID Theft Clearinghouse toll-free at 1.877.ID.THEFT (1.877.438.4338) to report the theft. Counselors will take your complaint and advise you on how to deal with the credit-related problems that could result from ID theft. The Identity Theft Hotline and the ID Theft Website (www.identitytheft.gov) give you one place to report the theft to the federal government and receive helpful information.
By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials track down identity thieves and stop them.
Additionally, a newly updated identity theft booklet, ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name is now available in Spanish. Two new consumer assistance publications released by the FTC are Privacy: Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information and Privacy: What You Do Know Can Protect You. All FTC publications are available at www.ftc.gov.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP, or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
- Media Contact:
- Cathy MacFarlane
Office of Public Affairs
- Staff Contact:
- Betsy Broder
Bureau of Consumer Protection