March 6th, 2013

What to do if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

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what to do if you're a victim of identity theft

Up to this point, all of our National Consumer Protection Week blog posts here at the Credit Karma Blog have covered ways to help protect you. First, we mentioned some ways to keep your money safe. Then, we discussed how to spot and avoid credit repair scams. Finally, we shared some good ways to protect your credit.

This post is going to be a little different. And we sincerely hope you won’t need to read it, because today we’re going to talk about what to do if you’re a victim of identity theft.

If you’re experiencing identity theft, the best advice we can give is to work quickly. The quicker you work to remedy the situation, the better.

It’s possible your identity has been stolen and you don’t even know about it. So we’re first going to go over some ways to tell if you’re a victim of identity theft. Then, we’ll discuss the steps you need to take to prevent further abuse.

How to Tell if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

There are usually some telltale warning signs that your identity has been stolen. Watch out for the following red flags:

  • You see new accounts that you don’t recognize on your credit report. Thieves often will try to apply for credit in your name. When they do, those new accounts will show up on your credit report.
  • You receive calls from collection agencies about loans you don’t know about. After these thieves open up new accounts and “you” fail to pay off those loans, they are sold to collection agencies who will try to collect the unpaid money from you.
  • You spot unexplained withdrawals and charges on your statements. If your money is mysteriously disappearing or you are being charged for items that you’re not buying, it’s possible thieves are taking money from your account or making purchases using your credit cards.
  • You aren’t receiving your bills, statements, or other important mail. Sometimes, thieves will call up your bank, credit card company, or lender to change your mailing address so you won’t find out about the unexplained withdrawals and charges on your statements.

What to do if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

As mentioned before, the best thing you can do in this situation is to act quickly to prevent further abuse by identity thieves. Follow these steps as soon as possible:

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit report. Fraud alerts are basically flags that tell creditors to contact you before any new accounts are opened in your name or any changes are made to your existing accounts. Contact one of the three major bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and tell them you’d like to put a fraud alert on your report. Once you contact one of the bureaus, they are obligated to contact the other two bureaus to place the alert on your file.You can contact the bureaus here:
    • Equifax: Online or by calling 1-800-525-6285
    • Experian: Online or by calling 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion: By calling 1-800-680-7289
  2. Close all fraudulent accounts. Scrutinize your credit reports and cancel all fraudulent accounts by speaking with someone in the security or fraud department of each company where a fraudulent account was opened in your name. Write down the names of the people you spoke to and follow up with them in writing (via certified mail) so that there is a written record for your file. Be sure to ask for written confirmation that the accounts have been closed.
  3. File a police report. Not only will this help the police hunt down the perpetrator, but this will also come in handy when working with the credit reporting agencies and creditors to improve your credit health again. In addition, it’ll serve as proof that a crime has been committed against you.
  4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Filing a report with the FTC helps the government track and respond to identity thievery. You can contact them at 1-877-439-4388 or online here.

Bottom Line: Identity theft is a terrible crime that causes considerable stress, time, and financial trouble to more than 12 million Americans a year. Don’t let it happen to you! Take steps to protect your credit and you should be fine.

Want more information? Check out the NCPW Consumer Topics. And check out the other NCPW posts we’ve written for more on how to protect yourself.


helps manage the social media channels and blog at Credit Karma. Although her specialty lies in creating witty post-it notes, she also enjoys sharing all the financial information she’s learned since joining Credit Karma in February 2012. When she’s not working, you can probably find her trying out a new dessert recipe or learning/perfecting any musical instrument she can get her hands on. She may or may not have created a Twitter specifically to put in this byline. Say “hi” @leejennaa!

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Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. Identity theft is incredibly scary. I once went online to check my bank statement and found a very small (just a few dollars) withdraw from an online game site I’d never seen or heard of. I immediately cancelled my debit cards, etc. I can’t help but wonder if I just so happened to spot the “test” run of my account information before someone was able to really get to work on my money and identity!

    Dona Collins at 7:11 am on March 7, 2013
  2. for yrs now i’ve been through hell!i lost my Backpack on the bus.someone picked it up and that was all .i was living in swampscott Mass.i filed a police report,then come to find out the person lived in haverhill mass.called the police in that area.and they told me they wasn’t going to help me.ok so now all kinds of bills are piling up.this person opened up a morgage,car loan,cell phone accounts in my these or person is living in danvers a house that is in my name.can someone please help me?i tried to call lifelock but they want money to help which i don’t have.i have children that i can’t even help?because of my situation!

    Tyrone Myers

    TyroneMyers at 4:08 pm on May 14, 2013
  3. “He’s crazy” is absolutely a cop-out, and I think most people would agree. It’s also a defense used by legal teams, and I think that’s part of the reason it comes up in discussions.

    crime compensation at 10:16 pm on August 6, 2013
  4. Checking your credit card history daily is another great way to spot identity theft before it gets out of hand. I check bank account and credit card history at least once a day. If I see anything I don’t recognize, I call immediately.

    Lisa researching identity theft at 6:42 pm on February 22, 2014
  5. some Body Stolen indentity

    dianaguidry at 10:06 am on August 26, 2014
  6. Mike

    Hi Diana – I’m sorry to hear that. I’d recommend checking out the details in the article for more information on identity theft and consulting a professional if you need any further advice. Thanks!

    Mike at 8:51 am on August 27, 2014
  7. Yes Indeed.

    Rixar13 at 12:15 pm on December 10, 2014
  8. I have NEVER lived in bloomington, Illinois. Please respond to this fraud report.

    Ben Stacy at 7:56 am on February 28, 2015
  9. Mike

    Hi Ben – I’m sorry to hear that! Since all of the credit report information on Credit Karma comes from TransUnion and Equifax, you’d have to contact them directly to file a dispute. You can read more about incorrect personal info here:


    Mike at 8:42 am on March 2, 2015
  10. I found an address in my credit report that I recognize, but I have never lived there or done any business using that address. I suspect that a person staying in my home used my Dell card, as she had access a few years ago. I didn’t find the address until recently. After paying off my laptop MANY years ago all I ever bought from them was a $50 printer. I ended up with over $2k in bills, filed a police report, and Dell said it wasn’t fraud. Sold my acct to a collector and I just gave them $1286.00 to close it out but I KNOW I didn’t buy anything! Is there any way for me to trace this and go after the thief, even though they were a minor at the time and are now in their mid 20’s!
    Please help advise me!

    Amy Nelson at 11:01 pm on March 8, 2015
  11. Mike

    Hi Amy – I’m sorry to hear about all that. We at Credit Karma unfortunately can’t give you any advice on that matter, but you could consider consulting a legal professional if you’re interested in following up.

    Mike at 10:37 am on March 9, 2015
  12. I have never ever lived at this address

    bonnie lawarance at 5:30 am on March 17, 2015
  13. Mike

    Thanks for your comment, Bonnie. You can learn more about incorrect personal information on your credit report, and your options, here:

    Mike at 9:07 am on March 17, 2015
  14. I just looked over my report and noticed a FEMALE’s name and an ODD address. I’m 100% man and have NEVER lived at that location, what can I do to have this removed?

    Luis Castro at 4:38 am on March 28, 2015
  15. Jenna

    Hi Luis,

    We’d recommend reaching out to the bureaus to file a dispute. You can learn how to do so here:

    Good luck!

    Jenna at 9:24 am on March 30, 2015
  16. How can I notify someone that I never registered for Credit Karma but when I tried to it indicates that I already have an account.

    Herman at 8:56 am on April 12, 2015
  17. Mike

    Good question, Herman. I’d recommend getting in touch with our member support team. They’ll be able to get to the bottom of this for you:


    Mike at 10:05 am on April 13, 2015
  18. I have never lived in Illinois, this is fraudulent information.

    Fontain Allen at 3:54 pm on April 15, 2015
  19. Mike

    Sorry to hear about that, Fontain! You can learn more about incorrect personal information on your credit report here:

    Mike at 9:34 am on April 16, 2015
  20. its more like a question not a comment. i noticed an address on my repot that ive never lived at or known anyone who did in a town in the same state i live in. Nothing else was incorrect actually every other thing was exactly 100% acurate & i was very pleases with exactly how acurate it was awesome. my question is what do i do about the unknown address on my report?

    joseph alan weinshrott at 5:38 pm on April 21, 2015
  21. Mike

    Hi Joseph – Thanks for your question! You can read more about wrong addresses on your credit report here:


    Mike at 9:03 am on April 22, 2015
  22. I never work for Alex Roepers and Cargo Airport services, it is the first time that I heard about them. This information is on my employer reported. This is a fraudulent information.

    Clara at 11:21 am on May 7, 2015
  23. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Clara – Please contact one of our agents about this matter:

    Enola Guerrero at 5:24 pm on May 7, 2015
  24. I’ve never lived in Hammond Indiana so what can I do to find out who has used my info.

    Katrina Smith at 6:57 pm on May 14, 2015
  25. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Katrina – Please check out the following link for instructions on errors on your report:


    Enola Guerrero at 5:01 pm on May 15, 2015
  26. thank you for sharing all this valuable information. i greatly appreciate it

    learning about ID theft at 5:54 am on May 29, 2015
  27. Enola Guerrero

    You’re Welcome! Thanks for reading!

    Enola Guerrero at 10:37 am on May 29, 2015
  28. Hi I have been trying to stop this Identity theft for years I even payed a company to help me and dispute this and it still continues I am trying to get my credit right I can not even get a credit card what do I do now frustrated

    Yolanda Maestas at 6:53 am on June 4, 2015
  29. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Yolanda – A lot of people are victimized by identity theft. Check out our advice center for more tips on how to protect your identity:


    Enola Guerrero at 11:51 am on June 4, 2015
  30. I went to file for my taxes for the very first time in all my life and found out that someone stole my identity. I had to go to the IRS office and get an affidavit stating that I’m not the one who filed. Is there a possibility that they also messed up things on my credit as well?

    Cozette R Tanner at 1:07 pm on June 26, 2015
  31. Enola Guerrero

    Cozette – Since we are not a credit bureau, we don’t have any information on it. I suggest putting a fraud alert on your account and contact all three credit bureaus.


    Enola Guerrero at 3:26 pm on June 26, 2015
  32. I had a case of identity theft a couple yrs back and I just really need to bring my score up, but I still cannot get a credit card…I pay my bills on time, but they havent seemed to help my you have any advice?

    rachael bartlet at 6:28 pm on June 27, 2015
  33. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Rachael – Check out our article on tips to improving credit here:


    Enola Guerrero at 11:24 am on June 29, 2015
  34. I see 2 bad credit card accounts 1 from lumberton and anther from a thee hester store rd it hurting my credit and its not my adress. but i think i no who it is my ex wife we have been divorced since 1999 she is using my ssn what the best way to adress this ive lived at same adress since 1991 she has lived at both of the adress above. pretty sure she is still at the 2nd adress please advise me how to handle this matter thqanki you

    Russell m Smithers at 12:03 am on July 14, 2015
  35. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Russell – To fix any errors you see on your report, you can go here:


    Enola Guerrero at 12:53 pm on July 14, 2015
  36. There is a Patricia Daniels on my account it is not me

    Also a gas pro account and a Macy’s sccount

    PATSY E DANIELS at 2:26 pm on July 29, 2015
  37. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Patsy – To fix any errors you see on your report, please go here:


    Enola Guerrero at 10:35 am on July 31, 2015
  38. the u.s department of education is guilty of identity theft. you may ask why?

    in my period of “high” academia/. party schools are still accredited.

    the members working for this organization can not multiply 457398 times 397462 in under 1 min. the same memory they use to inflict damage to a persons debt. well, multiplication is part of education.

    and third, collected knowledge of people were never under jurisdiction of the department of education. nor knowledge was created by this department of education. knowledge was created by bored people with high iqs and some died in poverty never working for this department of education.

    ivan at 1:26 pm on August 11, 2015
  39. i have never lived on freight st. or done any business there

    raj bansal at 4:01 am on August 18, 2015
  40. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Raj – To dispute any errors on your report, please go here:


    Enola Guerrero at 6:21 pm on August 18, 2015
  41. I am really pissed and confused, my credit score is already terrible and now there is an updated name of Desiree Page which is definitely not !e or even possible how do I fix this

    Desiree Miler at 6:37 am on September 27, 2015
  42. Enola Guerrero

    Hi Desiree – Please check out the following article on fixing errors on your reports:


    Enola Guerrero at 12:04 pm on September 29, 2015

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