Was Your Identity Stolen? Here's How To File a Police Report
If your personal information has been compromised, you may need to file a police report for identity theft.
The sooner you report identity theft, the faster you can prevent further damage to your financial reputation.
However, victims of identity theft are often surprised to hear that filing a police report is only required in certain situations.
Filing an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should be your top priority.
In this guide, you'll learn when (and if) you should file a police report if your identity was stolen.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information—such as your name, address, banking details, social security number, credit card number, etc.—without your permission, to perform criminal or fraudulent activities.
Hackers can open accounts in your name, commit loan fraud, steal medical benefits (i.e., medical identity theft), access your retirement accounts, and inflict severe financial damage. Identity thieves can hurt your credit score and ruin an otherwise reputable credit history.
ID theft can happen in many ways. Someone might find documents with your personally identifying information. They may also steal sensitive data from your devices when you're web browsing on a publicly shared Wi-Fi network. Spam emails, phishing attacks, texting scams, holiday shopping scams and unemployment fraud are other common ways identity theft can occur.
You could also fall victim to identity theft by way of phone scams, mail theft, card skimming or carding, malware, ransomware, spyware, trojan viruses, social media phishing, and most notoriously - large corporate data breaches, which are becoming increasingly common. Over 1,000 data breaches have already been reported in 2021, which is an 17% increase compared to 2020.
The list below represents a summary of common warning signs of identity theft.
Signs You May Be a Victim of Identity Theft
- Missing funds from your bank account, or unauthorized withdrawals.
- Unauthorized charges on your credit or debit card.
- Calls from debt collectors regarding debt that’s not yours.
- You're suddenly locked out of your email because someone hacked your inbox and changed your password.
- You've noticed that one of your social media accounts — like Instagram or Snapchat — has been hacked.
- Your data was exposed in a new data breach. (Aura can monitor this for you).
- Someone opened a new credit card account in your name.
- You were denied lines of credit that you never applied for.
- Someone applied for a loan or a lease in your name.
- Someone applied for unemployment benefits in your name.
- Someone stole your income tax refund.
- You received a bill for new utilities in your name.
- You received a medical bill from a doctor you never visited.
- Missing mail, or unrecognized mail.
- A rejection letter from your health insurance provider stating you’ve maxed out your benefit limit (even though you have not).
Recognizing these red flags are ways to tell if your identity has been stolen.
Important Steps to Take If You Notice Any Red Flags
- Request a free credit report.
- Visit AnnualCreditReport.com which has data from the major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
- File an Identity Theft Report with the FTC.
- Report the Identity Theft to the Credit Bureaus.
- Consider a credit freeze.
- Notify your financial institutions.
- Notify your cellular carrier to prevent SIM swapping.
- Consider canceling all your bank accounts and credit cards.
- Immediately change the usernames and passwords to your online accounts.
Notify the FTC. Submit a Claim Online
As a federal law enforcement agency, the FTC supersedes your local police department. If you’re a victim of identity theft, head over to www.identitytheft.gov
Because identity theft has become so common, reporting it has become much easier. The FTC makes the process of filing an Identity Theft Report very easy.
Their intuitive online tools will help you complete the forms for your report automatically. When you’re done, your FTC report becomes an official statement about the crime. Then, other law enforcement agencies can access this report during their own investigations.
How To File an Identity Theft Report Online
Head over to IdentityTheft.gov and choose the prompt that best describes your situation.
Continue to click the appropriate responses, and the online wizard will automatically fill out your Identity Theft Affidavit (your formal report to the FTC).
Here's What You'll Need to Provide to the FTC
- Full legal name.
- Date of birth.
- Social Security number.
- Driver’s license number.
- Current address and how long you’ve lived there.
- Phone number.
- Email address.
As you fill in the required fields about the incident, the FTC's online tool generates a personalized recovery plan with tips explaining what to do next and how to take action.
For example, you can download forms and dispute letters to send to credit bureaus and your other financial institutions to help clear your name. You may also need to report the identity fraud to another government department, such as your local attorney general’s office.
Once you complete your id theft affidavit, print out the report and keep a copy for your records. You’ll need this in order to report the crime to your credit card companies and other financial institutions. If you choose to file a police report, they’ll ask you for a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report.
Can You Call the FTC to Report Identity Theft?
While the FTC encourages identity theft victims to file an online report, you can also file a report over the telephone via the FTC's identity theft hotline.
You can call the FTC's Consumer Response Center at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
This is a toll-free number, so even if your cell phone is lost or stolen, you can call from a landline with no issues.
When Should You File a Police Report for Identity Theft?
If you attempt to file a police report for identity theft, most police officers will ask for a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report. So, follow the steps outlined above before going to your local police department.
As mentioned above, it’s not always necessary to file a police report for identity theft when you make an official report to the FTC.
Here are some instances when should report identity theft to the police:
- You know the person who committed the crime. If you know that a roommate, family member, friend, etc. had access to your information right before something showed up on your credit report or accounts, the police may investigate that person.
- You have information that could aid a police investigation into the theft— if someone used your name and address and then filed for a change of address in your area, this may pinpoint a potential suspect.
- Your identity was used during a police interaction or crime. If a person stole your identity and used your name and address during a traffic stop or an arrest, you may have police records in your name even though you didn’t commit the crime. Filing a police report protects you from any unwarranted penalties.
- Your financial institutions require a police report for identity theft. Some banking institutions, credit unions, and debt collectors will need to keep an official police report on file for their records as they resolve disputes.
How To File a Police Report for Identity Theft in 3 Steps
1. Locate Your FTC Identity Theft Report. As mentioned, your local police department will ask for this, so make sure to bring it to the police station.
2. Gather your personally identifying documents to verify your identity and prove that you are who you claim to be:
- Your government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
- Proof of address, such as your name and address on mortgage paperwork, a rental agreement, utility bills, paystubs, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms, etc.
3. Bring specific evidence of identity theft. Print out copies or bring your credit card statements, bank account statements, IRS notices, collection letters, data breach notifications, etc. Make sure these are dated, too.
What Happens If You Can’t File an Identity Theft Report with the Police?
As mentioned, most ID theft cases don’t actually require you to file an identity theft report with your local police department. Once you file an Identity Theft Report with the FTC, the federal government's authority to investigate the matter supersedes your local law enforcement agency.
Plus, once you file with the FTC, local law enforcement has access to the report (and they’re going to ask for it, anyway).
But, if your financial institutions require a police report and your local police department denies your request, you can always contact your state attorney general’s office. Each state has a different process, and your attorney general's office or website will provide details about how to proceed.
Report Identity Theft to Credit Bureaus & Your Financial Institutions
After you file an FTC report, you’ll need to alert all three major credit bureaus to the theft. You can do this online at:
If any fraudulent accounts were opened in your name, or any fraudulent charges appear on your bank statements or credit card statements, you should dispute these immediately. It's a good idea to have a copy of your ID theft affidavit, and a copy of the police report handy to prove that you are a victim of fraud.
Aura's White Glove Fraud Resolution Team Can Assist
Save time and hassle by allowing Aura to monitor and alert you to any new inquiries to your credit file across all 3 major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).
If you have no idea what to do after your identity is stolen, Aura is fully equipped with a U.S. based victim assistance team ready to support you every step of the way.
A dedicated Aura case manager will work with you to craft a mitigation and remediation plan to recover your damages. Aura's team of trained experts will help you navigate the challenges of dealing with credit bureaus and federal institutions.
Victims of identity theft have a right to:
- Request that credit reporting agencies block information about activity that occurred as a result of identity theft. This could prevent fraud by blocking unauthorized activity from destroying your credit score, damaging your credit history, and ruining your financial reputation.
- Place a 90-day or 1-year fraud alert on your credit reports to warn businesses that your identity has been compromised. Credit lenders will be required to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing new lines of credit in your name. This reduces the risk of someone using your identity to open new unauthorized accounts.
- Freeze your credit. This prevents anyone (including you) from requesting a copy of your credit report. When a financial institution pulls your credit report, a security freeze will block access to your records, which means they won’t be able to approve the request. A credit freeze lasts indefinitely, until you remove it.
Go The Extra Mile After Filing an Identity Theft Report
- Contact your bank, credit union, and credit card companies. Alert them regarding your case of identity fraud, so you can dispute fraudulent charges and unauthorized transactions instead of being held responsible for them.
- Cancel any compromised accounts and request new account numbers, card numbers, and PIN numbers. And of course, don’t forget to change ALL your online passwords for your financial accounts, social media sites, online bill payment portals, and anywhere else your personal information may be stored.
- Get in the habit of regularly checking your credit reports. Let Aura help you with this. Rather than contacting all three credit bureaus individually, Aura's fraud resolution team can streamline the process for you.
- Consider an all-in-one digital security solution. Let Aura monitor your personal information and keep your devices secure. We'll monitor your credit and online accounts 24/7.
- Get an Identity Theft Insurance Policy. Every Aura plan comes with a $1 Million Identity Theft Insurance policy that covers eligible losses due to identity fraud.
- Protect your family from identity theft. Keep your children and spouse safe with Aura's family plans, which includes premium identity theft protection, credit monitoring, White Glove Fraud Resolution, and $1 million in identity theft insurance for every adult member in your plan.