What is identity theft?
Identity theft can happen to anyone. If this has happened to you, you are not alone. Common types of identity theft include when someone has used your name to:
- Buy things
- Get credit cards
- Rent an apartment
- Set up utilities
It could also mean that someone has:
- Gotten medical care in your name
- Re-routed your tax refund
- Impersonated you during contact with law enforcement
- Written checks on your account (from stealing your checkbook or getting online access to your checking account)
- Used your ATM card or credit card without your permission
In some cases, identity theft happens within families
How can identity theft impact me?
Even if you are able to get purchases, charges, or checks cancelled, an identity theft can have other effects. You might:
- Get collection letters for things you didn't buy, or debts you don't owe
- Have bad entries on your credit report that make it harder for you to get credit, or trigger higher interest rates
What can I do?
The Federal Trade Commission(FTC) has sample letters in this .pdf bookletthat you can use to tell a debt collector or credit bureau about an identity theft.
You have toreport the crime of identity theft to the police before you can use these letters. You do not need to know the name of the person who used your identity. Just show the police the debt collection letters or other proof that you are the victim of this crime.
The three automated form letters below were created from these model forms. If you feel comfortable using a computer, the online versions may be the easiest way to draft the letters you need.
Before you use these forms:
The links below will take you to another website: LawHelp Interactive. It is the joint effort of a group of legal aid programs. It is safe and secure.
The website provides legal information, not legal advice. These forms are free for the public to use.
This material was produced in part by the Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center, Inc. under award #2010-VF-GX-K030. This award was from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).No part of the DOJ operates, controls, is responsible for, or endorses, these materials. This includes, but isn't limited to, the content, technology, and policies, and any services or tools provided.
Here are the automated forms
1. Letter to Creditor
Use this letter to tell a creditor that you did not authorize a charge. The charge may show up on your credit card statement, or it could be a charge on an account someone opened using your name. This letter is for a creditor that is collecting its own bill, not a collection agency.
NOTE:You will need a copy of your bill when you start the interview. You will also need to give a copy of your proof of identity.
Go to: Letter to Creditor – Identity Theft
2. Letter to Debt Collector
Use this letter to tell a company collecting a debt for someone else that you didn't run up the debt they are trying to collect.
NOTE:You will need to have a copy of the collection letter when you start the interview. You will also need to give a copy of the police report and proof of your identity. You will need to include the bill and proof of identify with letter to the debt collector..
Go to: Letter to Debt Collector – Identity Theft
3. Letter to Credit Bureau
You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the 3 credit bureaus. You do not have to pay for a copy of your credit report.
Before starting this letter, you should request your free credit reports. Read them carefully. Mark the items on the report that came from someone stealing your identity.
This letter to the credit bureausasks them to investigate the items that came from the identity theft, and remove them from your report.
NOTE: You will need a copy of your credit report when you start the interview.
After you have created your letter, mail the letter to the credit bureau. Also send:
- a copy of your credit report with the incorrect items circled,
- a copy of the police report you made of the identity theft, and
- proof of your identity
Go to: Letter to Credit Bureau – Identity Theft
National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network
Federal Trade Commission: Identity Theft
Taking Charge: What to do if your identity is stolen (.pdf file from the FDC)