How to report identity theft to credit bureaus: a 10 step guide

If you are a victim of identity theft, your overall finances often suffer without you even knowing. Specifically, identity theft can really hurt your credit score.

Scammers often find information about you online to impersonate you and open up credit cards in your name. They’ll make purchases or take out loans using your info, and if they don’t pay, it reflects poorly on your credit report.

Reporting identity theft to credit bureaus is an important step to protect your credit and financial well-being. Here’s a 10 step guide on how to do it effectively:

1. Gather Information

The first step if you are a victim of identity theft is to get all your info together.

  • Identity Theft Affidavit: Obtain and complete the Identity Theft Affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website or through IdentityTheft.gov.
  • Documentation: Collect any supporting documents related to the identity theft, like a police report, fraud alert, or proof of any unauthorized transactions.

2. Contact the Credit Bureaus

When it comes to identity theft and your credit, credit bureaus play a major role. A credit bureau—like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—compiles and maintains information that goes on your credit file.

  • Equifax: Visit Equifax’s website or call their fraud hotline at 1-888-766-0008.
  • Experian: Visit Experian’s website or call their fraud hotline at 1-888-397-3742.
  • TransUnion: Visit TransUnion’s website or call their fraud hotline at 1-800-680-7289.

3. Place a Fraud Alert

  • If you suspect identity theft, request a fraud alert on your credit report with each bureau. When you place fraud alerts, it lets creditors know to take extra steps and verify your identity before giving out any credit.

4. Request a Credit Freeze

  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports. This prevents creditors from accessing your credit report entirely, making it harder for fraudsters to open new accounts.

5. Monitor Your Credit Report

  • Regularly check your free credit report from all three bureaus for any unauthorized accounts or activity.

6. Dispute Unauthorized Accounts and Transactions

  • If you find unauthorized accounts or transactions on your credit report, dispute them with the credit bureaus in writing. Include copies of supporting documents.

7. Follow Up

  • Stay in touch with the credit bureaus and follow up on your requests. Keep records of all communications and documentation related to the identity theft.

8. File a Report with the FTC

  • File an FTC identity theft report online at IdentityTheft.gov or by calling 1-877-438-4338. The FTC provides a recovery plan and helps you create an identity theft report.

9. Notify Creditors and Financial Institutions

  • Contact your banks, credit card issuers, and other financial institutions to inform them of the identity theft. Close any compromised accounts and open new ones with added security measures.

10. Stay Vigilant

  • Continue monitoring your credit reports and financial accounts regularly for any signs of further fraudulent activity.
  • The best way to stay safe and prevent identity theft in the future is to take action. The latest product from Kikoff, Keenly, helps you remove your data from data brokers, flagging whenever your information is part of a data breach.  Soon you’ll be able to block spam calls and texts, and monitor your credit. 

What now?

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to identity theft. Moving forward, make sure you think about the following 3 strategies to keep from being a victim of identity theft:

  • Check Your Accounts Regularly: Monitor your bank accounts, credit card statements, and credit report.
  • Use Strong Passwords and Secure Your Information: Use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts and be cautious about sharing personal information with anyone you don’t know.
  • Stay Alert for Phishing and Scams: Watch out for unsolicited emails, messages, or phone calls asking for personal information or payment. Avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments from unknown email addresses or phone numbers.
  • Remove your data from the internet: Thieves often find info about you to impersonate you to credit card companies, your bank, and other sensitive places. Keenly can help you stay ahead of the curve and prevent these bad actors from doing so

One of the most important ways to monitor for identity theft and ultimately prevent identity theft is checking your credit report regularly.

When you choose to build credit with Kikoff, we give you tools to track your credit journey. With our credit monitoring reports, see insights like problem areas so you stay on track to grow your credit.

Whatever your long term goals are, Kikoff provides fair, effective, and simple tools that empower you to meet your financial goals.