What is identity theft?
Vermont law defines identity theft as the unauthorized use of another person’s personal identifying information to obtain credit, goods, services, money, or property. In many cases, identity theft involves the fraudulent use of your credit card or bank account information. In some cases, your Social Security number and other personal information may be used to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses, lines of credit, loans, or other consumer accounts.
I think I am a victim of identity theft. What steps should I take?
- Concerned about protecting your identity? Learn more about steps you can take on our Q&A: How to Protect Your Identity.
- Review your credit reports carefully for any accounts that you are not familiar with. You can obtain your free credit report from each of the Credit Reporting Bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find anything that should not be there, be sure to save a copy of the report. Then, contact the credit reporting agency to dispute all inaccurate items.
- Place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit reports. You can find out more information from the Federal Trade Commission about fraud alerts and freezing your credit files. To place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit files, contact the three credit reporting agencies listed below.
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File an “identity theft” police report and ask for a copy for your records. Find your local police agency.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Write down the name of anyone you talk to, what they told you, and the date of the conversation.
- Follow-up in writing with all contacts you’ve made about the ID theft on the phone or in person. Use certified mail, return receipt requested, for all correspondence regarding the theft.
- Keep copies of all correspondence or forms relating to the ID theft. Keep the originals of supporting documentation, like police reports and letters to and from creditors; send copies only. Keep old files even if you believe the problem is resolved.
I still have questions, where can I find out more?
Identity theft is a complex issue facing consumers all over the country. Find out more about identity theft by visiting identitytheft.gov, the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft help and information site.
Concerned about protecting your minor children from identity theft? The Federal Trade Commission has excellent resources on child credit protection.
Identity Theft and Information on the Equifax Data Security Breach
To check if you were personally affected by the breach, you may visit Equifax’s website: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.
The best way to know that no one is using your personal information is to monitor your credit. We are recommending that Vermonters review their credit reports now, and regularly, to make sure that no unauthorized accounts are being reported. You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies annually, online, at www.annualcreditreport.com, or you can mail in a form.