April, 2012:

In our continued attempt to keep members of the investing public abreast of current fraud related issues, we are providing a series of posts relating to identity theft, including how to prevent it and what to do if you are exposed to it. These posts are not designed to be complete in all material respects. They are being provided for educational purposes only. If you have any specific quetions relative to the contents of any of these posts, you should consult a qualified expert.

If you have been the victim of identity theft:

1.  File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

You can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form; or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.

By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims’ complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.

Additionally, you can provide a printed copy of your online Complaint form to the police to incorporate into their police report. The printed FTC ID Theft Complaint, in conjunction with the police report, can constitute an Identity Theft Report and entitle you to certain protections. This Identity Theft Report can be used to (1) permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report; (2) ensure that debts do not reappear on your credit report; (3) prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft; and (4) place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.

2.  File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Call your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your identity theft. Ask them if you can file the report in person. If you cannot, ask if you can file a report over the Internet or telephone. 

If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a “Miscellaneous Incident” report, or try another jurisdiction, like your state police. You also can check with your state Attorney General’s office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number or check www.naag.org for a list of state Attorneys General.

When you go to your local police department to file your report, bring a printed copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint form, your cover letter, and your supporting documentation. The cover letter explains why a police report and an ID Theft Complaint are so important to victims.

Ask the officer to attach or incorporate the ID Theft Complaint into their police report.  Tell them that you need a copy of the Identity Theft Report (the police report with your ID Theft Complaint attached or incorporated) to dispute the fraudulent accounts and debts created by the identity thief. (In some jurisdictions the officer will not be able to give you a copy of the official police report, but should be able to sign your Complaint and write the police report number in the “Law Enforcement Report” section.)