If you’ve been the victim of identity theft and someone has stolen your Social Security number or personal data to open credit accounts, file taxes, or make charges you didn’t authorize, you might be able to find out who committed this illegal act.
However, there’s no 100% foolproof way to catch an identity thief. After all, the criminal could be a stranger running cyber-scams in another country, or it could even be someone close to you, such as a family member or friend. Whatever the case, here is a 4-step process to find out who stole your identity and caused you a lot of problems.
- Start your investigation by requesting copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. As a victim of identity theft, you’re entitled to receive your credit reports free of charge. Carefully check through your credit reports for possible signs of identity theft. Red flags include new applications for credit that you didn’t request, new accounts opened in your name that you didn’t authorize, new charges that you are not aware of, and addresses listed on your credit report that you don’t recognize.
- The next step in finding out who stole your Social Security number is to file as ID Theft Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This government agency doesn’t bring criminal cases against identity thieves, but they do enter your complaint into the TC’s Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, which law enforcement officers can search as part of their criminal investigations. It’s also a good idea to make multiple copies of your ID Theft Complaint and store it away in a safe place.
- After you’ve contacted that FTC, report the matter to your local police department. Be prepared to file an Identity Theft Report, as this is a particular kind of police report that contains specific details related to instances of identity theft. Filing a police report or an Identity heft Report is vital and must be done to be entitled to certain legal rights. Before you leave the police station, get the point person, and write down their full name, badge number, and phone number, so you know the police officer who will be investigating your case.
- Once you have your ID Theft Complaint, police report, and credit reports, you need to write all the businesses that the identity thief tricked. Under Section 609(e) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to request in writing to receive all information about fraudulent accounts and unauthorized transactions that were made in your name. Some of the documents that you can request according to FTC includes:
- Application records or screen prints of Internet/phone applications
- Payment/charge slips
- Investigator’s summary
- Delivery addresses
- All files of phone numbers used to activate the account or used to access the account
- Any other documents associated with the account
By law, this information must be supplied to you free of charge, and the companies must reply to you within 30 days of your written request. To receive this information, your letter must include three pieces of documentation:
- Verification of your identity (a government-issued identification card or a copy o your driver’s license)
- A copy of the identity theft police report
- A copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint, which includes an identity theft affidavit
Once you receive all the paperwork from the businesses fooled by the criminal, look for patterns and clues into who stole your identity or Social Security number.
Again, these steps are meant to help you determine who stole your identity but can’t provide a 100% guarantee. Unfortunately, identity thieves often target people they have access to, like friends or relatives, so don’t be surprised if someone you know has victimized you.
But rather than worry whether or not you’ll fall victim to criminal schemes, why not take the precautionary step of looking for protection that can back you up. Identity Protection services work night and day to make sure that the things listed here is something you never need to worry about. To set your mind at ease and to eliminate the threat of identity theft from strangers or familiar people, visit our list of the best Identity Protection services.