Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Leap into Action If Identity Stolen

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Leap into Action If Identity Stolen

Article excerpt

Question: Someone took out credit in my name. What should I do?

Answer: Identity theft is a serious crime and can wreak havoc on your financial standing. There are specific actions you should take if your identity is stolen.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, your first step is placing a fraud alert with one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Call one of the credit bureaus and tell them you are a victim of identity theft and need to place a fraud alert on your credit file. Confirm that the credit bureau will contact the other two companies to place fraud alerts as well. The fraud alert will remain on your credit file for 90 days. After 90 days, you can renew it.

You also may want to consider placing a credit freeze on your credit file. A credit freeze means potential creditors cannot get access to your credit file, making it impossible for anyone to open an account, including you, in your name. You can request the freeze to be lifted temporarily or permanently. You will need to contact each of the credit bureaus to place the freeze on your file and also make a note of how long the freeze will stay in effect.

Next you want to obtain copies of your credit report from each of the bureaus. As a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to free reports from each of the bureaus, beyond the free one you can receive annually. Contact, in writing, the creditors of the accounts open in your name and let them know you did not open the account. Send letters via certified mail with a receipt to maintain a record of your correspondence.

Finally, you'll need to create an identity theft report. This will help you ultimately have the fraudulent accounts removed from your record. First you'll need to obtain a complaint form from the Federal Trade Commission. The forms are available online at www. …

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