What To Do If You Are a Victim

There are several basic steps that are essential for most every identity theft case.

Step 1: Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus.

Equifax - To report fraud, call 800-525-6285
Experian - To report fraud, call 888-397-3742
TransUnion - To report fraud, call 800-680-7289

Tell them that you are a victim and request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, as well as a victim's statement that asks creditors to call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing ones. At the same time, order copies of your credit reports. Check for errors or fraudulent accounts.

Step 2: Close the accounts that you know or believe have been opened fraudulently. This includes credit card accounts, ATM cards and checks.

Step 3: File a police report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the police report because often times the bank or credit card company will need proof of the crime in order to erase debts created by identity theft.

Step 4: Send a copy of the police report to the three major credit reporting agencies. The agencies are required to block information victims identify as resulting from identity theft. Once these agencies receive the police report and the request form from you, they are required to block any adverse credit reports resulting from the crime.

Accurate and complete records will greatly improve your chances of resolving your identity theft case.

  • Follow up in writing with all contact you have made on the phone or in person. Use certified mail.
  • Keep copies of all correspondence or forms you send.
  • Write down the name of anyone you talk to, the date and conversation.
  • Keep old files even if you believe your case is closed. One of the most difficult and annoying aspects of identity theft is that errors can reappear on your credit reports.

Credit Freeze Information

How do I place a security freeze?

To place a freeze, you must request a security freeze in writing by certified mail to each of the three credit reporting agencies. If you are a victim of identity theft there is no cost for the placing, temporarily lifting (also referred to as “thawed”) or removing a security freeze, as long as you have a report from either the police or a law enforcement agency. South Dakota residents who are not identity theft victims must pay $10 to freeze each credit report, or a total of $30 to freeze their files with the three (3) credit reporting agencies. There is also a $10 fee to temporarily lift (also known as “thaw”) or permanently remove a security freeze on their credit report. 

 
Write to the three addresses below and include the information that follows:
Equifax Security Freeze Experian Security Freeze TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788 P.O. Box 9554 P.O. Box 6790
Atlanta, GA 30348 Allen, TX 75013 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
 
You must:
· Send a letter by certified mail.
· Provide your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.,) address, SSN, and date of birth.
· If you have moved in the past 5 years, supply the addresses where you have lived over the prior 5 years.
· Provide proof of current address such as a current utility bill or phone bill showing your name and current mailing address.
· Send a photocopy of a government issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, etc).
· If you are a victim of identity theft, to avoid the fee you must include a copy of report of alleged identity fraud or an identity theft passport.
· Pay the $10 fee by check, money order, or credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express or Discover cards only.) Give name of credit card, account number and expiration date and Card Identification Number (4-digit number on front of American Express or 3-digit number on back of other credit cards).
 
How long does it take for a security freeze to be in effect?
After five (5) business days from receiving your letter, the credit reporting agencies listed previously will place a freeze providing credit reports to potential creditors. After ten (10) business days from receiving your letter to place a freeze on your account, the credit reporting agencies will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN or password. Keep this PIN or password in a safe place.
 
How long will credit report remain frozen?
It will automatically expire seven (7) years from the date of placement and then can be renewed. 
 
Can I change my mind, once I place the security freeze?
Yes. To permanently remove a security freeze, you must request it along with your 10-digit PIN and two (2) forms of identification (e.g. pay stub with address and utility bill). It will cost $10 with each credit reporting agency to remove it.
 
Can I open new credit accounts if my files are frozen?
Yes. You may have a security freeze lifted for a specific date range (e.g. March 15-March 21) or provide proper information regarding the third party you want to receive your credit report. There will be a $10 fee to each credit reporting agency in doing so. The steps you are to take are as follows:
· Contact the credit reporting agencies mentioned in this section.
· The manner by which you contact them is determined by them.
· You must provide proper identification.
· You must provide your unique PIN or password.
· If you are requesting to open your credit for a specific period of time, you must provide during what time period your credit report will be accessible.
· If you are requesting to open your credit to a specific party, you must specify who that party is.
 
How long does it take for a security freeze to be lifted?
Credit reporting agencies must lift a freeze no later than three (3) business days from receiving your request.
 
What will a creditor who requests my file see if it is frozen?
A creditor will see a message or a code indicating the file is frozen.
 
What law requires security freezes? South Dakota Codified Law 54-15 became effective on July 1, 2006.
 
Can a creditor get my credit score if my file is frozen?
No. A creditor who requests your file from one of the three credit reporting agencies will only get a message or a code indicating that the file is frozen.
 
Can I order my own credit report if my file is frozen? Yes.
 
Can anyone see my credit file if it is frozen?
When you have a security freeze on your credit file, certain entities still have access to it. Your report can still be released to your existing creditors or to collection agencies acting on their own behalf. They can use it to review or collect on your account. Other creditors may also use your information to make offers of credit. Government agencies may have access for collecting child support payments, or taxes, or for investigating Medicaid fraud. Government agencies may also have access in response to a court or administrative order, a subpoena, or a search warrant.
 
Do I have to freeze my file with all three credit reporting agencies?
Yes. Different credit issuers may use different agencies. If you want to stop your credit file from being viewed, you must freeze it with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
 
Will a freeze lower my credit score? No.
 
Can an employer do a background check on my credit file?
No. You would have to lift the freeze to allow a background check, just as you would to apply for credit. The process for lifting the freeze is described previously.
 
To protect my credit, does my spouse’s credit file have to be frozen too?
Yes. Both spouses have to freeze their separate credit files, via separate letters requesting the freeze, in order to get the benefit. That means the total cost for freezing is $10 X 3 credit reporting agencies x 2 people = $60.
 
Does freezing my file mean that I won’t receive pre-approved credit offers?
No. You can stop the pre-approved credit offers by calling 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688). Or you can do this online at www.optoutprescreen.com. This will stop most of the offers, the ones that go through the credit reporting agencies. It’s good for five (5) years or you can make it permanent.
 
Find this and other PRIVACY RIGHTS infoatmion in our handbook, by clicking here: