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CHIPS Articles: Recovering from Identity Theft is Easier with a Plan

Recovering from Identity Theft is Easier with a Plan
Four steps to take right away!
By Federal Trade Commission - October 28, 2015
When Information Is Lost or Exposed

Did you recently get a notice that says your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Did you lose your wallet? Or learn that an online account was hacked? Depending on what information was lost, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from identity theft.

If a company or other organization is responsible for exposing your information and offers you free credit monitoring, take advantage of it!

Is someone using your personal information to open new accounts or make purchases? Take these steps to stop identity thieves.

What To Do Right Away

Act quickly to limit the damage.

Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
-- Call the fraud department. Explain that someone stole your identity.
-- Ask them to close or freeze the accounts. Then, no one can add new charges unless you agree.
Change logins, passwords and PINS for your accounts.

Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit report.
-- Get your free credit report right away. Go to or call 1-877-322-8228.
-- Review your reports. Make note of any account or transaction you don’t recognize. This will help you report the theft to the FTC and the police.

Step 3: Report identity theft to the FTC. Complete the FTC’s online complaint form. Give as many details as you can. The complaint form is not available on mobile devices, but you can call 1-877-438-4338 to make your report.
-- Print and save your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit immediately. Once you leave the page, you won’t be able to get your affidavit.

Step 4: File a report with your local police department. Go to your local police office with:
-- a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
-- a government-issued ID with a photo
-- proof of your address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utilities bill)
-- any other proof you have of the theft (bills, IRS notices, etc.)
-- FTC's Memo to Law Enforcement [PDF].

Your identity theft report proves to businesses that someone stole your identity. It also guarantees you certain rights.

What information was lost or exposed?

Depending on the extent of the identity theft, you may need to take additional steps. For more information, go to the FTC’s identity recovery website for detailed information and additional checklists at: is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.

Visit for prevention tips and free resources to share in your community.

U.S. Navy identity theft poster
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