WHERE TO GO FOR HELP: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in January revamped its IdentityTheft.gov website, providing victims with steps to take to help resolve specific problems. The interactive site also offers a new checklist of immediate steps for what a victim needs to do.
Additional new features provide users with free personal recovery plans tailored to their individual circumstances, step-by-step guidance, and pre-filled letters and forms to send to creditors, credit reporting agencies, debt collectors, and the IRS.
When you use IdentityTheft.gov to report a problem, you’ll get a personal recovery plan that:
- walks you through each recovery step
- tracks your progress and adapts to your changing situation
- pre-fills letters and forms for you
FTC links regarding the Equifax hack:
The site provides recovery steps for more than 30 types of identity theft and is available in Spanish at RobodeIdentidad.gov. Also, you can check out the new video about the website.
VICTIM ASSISTANCE GUIDES: Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims (Guide). The Guide was developed by the FTC to help attorneys and victim service providers chart their way through and resolve legal problems that pro bono clients may have following the theft of their identity. The FTC’s comprehensive guide for recovery titled “Taking Charge: What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen.”
FOR TAX ID THEFT VICTIMS: The FTC has webpage devoted to Tax ID Theft that includes advice for victims. You’ll see in there that you should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490 to report the fraud.
FILING A COMPLAINT WITH THE FTC: If you are a victim, you should file a complaint with the FTC via the new identitytheft.gov site; or call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC has counselors fielding phone calls to receive consumer complaints and offer individual assistance from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday with the exception of federal holidays. Or you can write to Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
HOW COMPLAINTS ARE MANAGED: The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, collects complaints about companies, fraud, unfair business practices and identity theft. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints. However, complaints can help law enforcement officials detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. We also provide training to law enforcers on how to use the database for investigations.
CREDIT ALERTS AND FREEZES: Something to think about if you’re information has been compromised or stolen: Initiate a credit freeze. There’s also an overview here, discussing other options including Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes, plus this Credit Freeze FAQs offers greater details and compares the options.
What is a credit freeze? A credit freeze allows a consumer restrict access to his or her credit report. If you place a credit freeze, potential creditors and other third parties will not be able to get access to your credit report unless you temporarily lift the freeze. Another option: Once you have filed a police report to demonstrate you are an identity theft victim, that would allow you to place a fraud alert or renewal for free.
ID THEFT PREVENTION OPTIONS: As for questions about considering a credit monitoring service, here’s an FTC alert discussing Identity Theft Protection Services.