Identity theft help
Learn how to prevent and respond to identity theft.
Do you suspect you are a victim of identity theft?
Steps to take immediately
Follow each of the steps below to start protecting your identity.
What to expect when adding a 1 year fraud alert
Also known as an initial security alert, a 1 year fraud alert notifies potential credit grantors to verify your identification before extending credit in your name.
- There is no need to contact Equifax or TransUnion, as Experian will forward your fraud alert request to the other 2 bureaus.
- A fraud alert may slow down your approval process for new credit.
- You will have the option to get your complimentary credit report after adding the 1 year fraud alert.
or call our automated service at 1 888 397 3742
In most cases, fraudulent activity can be detected by reviewing the accounts, inquiries and addresses that appear on a credit report. Review your report carefully for the following items:
- Accounts: If you do not recognize an account and the account is newly opened, that may indicate that a criminal has obtained a line of credit using your identity.
- Inquiries: Review all the inquiries on your credit report in the section titled "Requests viewed by others". This section contains inquiries from creditors that have accessed your credit report to process an application. If you do not recognize the credit grantor accessing your report, that may indicate fraudulent activity.
- Addresses: Review the addresses appearing on your credit report. If you discover an address that you do not recognize, it may indicate that the address was used on a fraudulent application for credit.
Once you have confirmed fraudulent activity on your credit report or from another source, file an identity theft report with a law enforcement agency, typically your local police department.
- Experian recommends that you call the non-emergency number for your local police department and explain what has happened. They can tell you what information you need to provide.
- You will need this police report in order to add a 7-year fraud victim alert (See step 5).
Call the special telephone number listed on your credit report. You can speak with an Experian consumer assistance associate who is trained in fraud victim assistance. Experian will work with you to investigate the fraudulent information on your credit report.
What to expect when adding a 7-year fraud victim alert
Also known as an extended fraud victim alert, a 7-year fraud victim alert requires that you must be a victim and provide a police report. To request this alert, follow these steps:
- Print and complete the form
- Provide a copy of your police report
- Provide copies of additional documentation as explained in the form instructions
- Mail to the address listed on the printed form
Steps to recovery
Continue with the steps below to begin your recovery
Fraudulent accounts created with your identity
Even though the fraudulent accounts created under your name were not from you, it is in your best interest to contact those businesses and let them know you were a victim of fraud. Contacting them directly may help you resolve the fraudulent information in your credit report more efficiently.
Existing accounts that have been compromised
Notifying your existing account holders of your victimization is a good idea, as it may help to reduce further fraudulent activities.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, here is some important contact information that can help you respond:
- Driver's license number fraud – Notify your state's Department of Motor Vehicles
- Social Security number used to commit identity theft – Notify the Federal Trade Commission at 1 877 ID THEFT and U.S. Social Security Administration
- Passport used in identity theft – Contact the U.S. State Department, Passport Services Department
- Mail theft – Visit the U.S. Postal Service® Website, Government Services
Why should I monitor my credit?
It is important that you check your credit reports regularly because early detection is key to minimizing the damage that mistakes and fraudulent activity can have on your credit. Experian's credit monitoring service checks your three credit reports daily and notifies you when key changes are detected. You also get unlimited online access to your credit report and score.Learn more
Tips for preventing identity theft
- Don't carry anything unnecessary in your wallet or purse: This includes your Social Security card, extra credit cards, birth certificate, voter's registration card and PINs or passwords you've written down on paper.
- Keep a record of everything in your wallet: Know what's in your wallet so you know whom to contact in the event of a lost wallet or stolen wallet. You can make copies of the front and back of your cards, including driver's license and medical insurance, or write down the account numbers and contact information. Store the copies or list in a secure place at home.
- Protect your existing credit and debit cards: If available, request credit and debit cards with your photo on the front. Instead of signing the back, write "please ask for photo id" to minimize the risk of identity theft and your cards being used by anyone but you.
- Shred all documents that contain your information before discarding: Shred all documents (credit card statements, bills, credit card receipts, tax returns, unused checks, canceled checks, and credit reports) that contain account information, Social Security numbers, PINs, or sensitive information.
- Shred all expired forms of identification and cards: Shred expired credit cards and driver's licenses, and never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles, or unattended gas pumps.
- Never leave sensitive documents in your car: Don't leave your purse or wallet in the car seat or floorboard while shopping at the mall or grocery store. Instead put them in the trunk or take them with you when you leave the vehicle. If easily visible, they make a prime target for identity thieves searching for documents such as drivers licenses, Social Security Cards, and account information such as checking account or credit card numbers.
- Never send personal information via email: Never respond to emails asking you to verify your password, account number, Social Security number, or credit card numbers.
- Never open attachments from emails you don't recognize: Viruses and Trojan Horses, which criminals use to takeover computers, often need your help to activate and infect your computer. Disguised as a video, attachment or link, these malware (malicious code) programs download to your computer once you click on a targeted link.
- Never provide information over the phone unless you initiated the call: Make sure you are communicating with your lender or a business with a legitimate need for your information.
- Create strong passwords: Use passwords that are at least eight digits and include letters, numbers, symbols, and upper and lower cases. Do not choose obvious passwords. Avoid pets' names, birthdates, or last four digits of your phone number or Social Security number.
- Save minimal information in your online accounts: Do not save or "remember" credit card information or passwords with websites. Even reputable companies have security breaches. Be wary of websites that ask for more information than is really needed to set up an account or conduct a transaction. Also be careful not to over share on social networking sites.
- Monitor your monthly statements: Inspect credit card bills, telephone bills, and bank statements for unauthorized use.
- Keep a schedule of all your monthly statements: Keep a schedule that indicates when credit card bills, bank statements, new credit cards, and other mail is scheduled to arrive, and contact all relevant creditors, banks, or vendors if an expected piece of mail is late. When on vacation, ask the post office to place a vacation hold on all mail.
- Review your Social Security statement: Review your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement annually to check for fraud by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting www.ssa.gov.
- Review your annual credit reports: You can request a free copy once every 12 months. Your credit report can contain the first clues that you are fraud victim. Reviewing it regularly will help you discover fraud and stop it quickly. Review Your Credit Report
- Monitor your Experian, Equifax® and TransUnion® credit reports: Experian's credit monitoring service checks your three credit reports daily and notifies you when key changes are detected. You also get unlimited online access to your credit report and score. Start Monitoring Your Credit