Steps to Take
- Report the crime to the local law enforcement agency in the area where you live or where the crime occurred.
- Place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit reports. Contact information and instructions for each credit bureau can be found on the Washington Attorney General’s website and the Federal Trade Commission’s website. The credit bureaus should send you copies of your credit reports free of charge once a fraud alert is confirmed. A security freeze prevents your credit file from being shared with potential creditors, helping to prevent new credit accounts from being opened. Individuals can later request that a freeze be temporarily lifted for the purpose of obtaining new credit. More information on the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert can be found online.
- Contact businesses or financial institutions.
- Report identity theft or a suspected compromise of your personal information to the IRS to help protect your tax records.
Identity theft victims have the right under Washington law (RCW 9.35.040) and Federal law (15 USC. § 1681g(e)) to obtain copies of records from businesses, etc, related to the fraudulent use of the victim’s identity. The Federal Trade Commission (citing Federal law) and the Washington Attorney General’s Office (citing Washington law) each provide sample letters for victims to request records from businesses. Both sample letters include language for a victim to authorize law enforcement to take receipt of the records should the victim wish to use it. Remember to include copies of applicable enclosures, depending on which law you cite to request the documents (information included in the links above).
Additional information and tips are available on the Washington Attorney General’s website and the Federal Trade Commission’s website.