What Should You Do If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft?
Identity thieves don’t just target your bank account or savings — they steal your name, reputation, and sense of security. Unfortunately, more and more Americans are becoming victims every day.
According to Javelin Strategy & Research [*]:
15.4 million Americans were victimized by identity fraud in 2022, with losses exceeding $20 billion.
Identity theft can cause serious financial and emotional damage — and no one should have to deal with it alone.
In this guide, we’ll explain what to do if your identity has been stolen, the resources that are available to you, and how to protect yourself from ID theft in the future.
Was Your Identity Stolen? Do This Now!
The first thing you need to do as soon as you spot the warning signs of identity theft is limit the damage. Identity thieves often target the same victims over and over — meaning any recovery work you do can quickly be undone without the right safeguards in place.
Before trying to recover lost funds or repair damage to your credit, take the following steps to discover the extent of the crime and secure your identity against future fraud:
Contact your insurance provider
If you have identity theft protection and coverage, contact your insurer immediately.
For example, Aura’s team of White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists can walk you through the recovery steps and even facilitate three-way calls with your bank or government agencies.
Even if you don’t pay for an identity theft protection provider, you may be covered through your homeowners insurance or work benefits.
Freeze your credit with all three bureaus
Next, contact each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to set up credit freezes and stop scammers from using your identity to take out loans or open new accounts.
Here’s how to reach each of the major credit bureaus:
Review your credit reports for signs of fraud
If scammers have used your identity to open fraudulent accounts, these accounts will show up on your credit report.
Until the end of 2023, you can get a free copy of your credit report each week from all three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Check for inaccurate personal information, unfamiliar employers, and incorrect account statuses.
File a report with the Federal Trade Commission and local police
You’ll need to file reports with any government agency at which your personal information was fraudulently used. But you should start by filing an official Federal Trade Commission (FTC) identity theft report at IdentityTheft.gov as well as contacting your local police department.
Contact your bank, and close out compromised accounts
Check your bank statements for signs of fraud, and then contact your financial institutions (bank and credit card companies) to report the crime. They’ll most likely close your existing accounts and supply you with new ones, including new credit and debit cards.
You can also use this time to ask about their process for disputing fraudulent charges.
Notify any impacted companies
Reach out to the fraud departments of any companies that might be affected. If an identity thief opened a new account under your name, let the company know and go through the steps to close it. Get all account closures in writing for your records.
Secure your online accounts with new passwords
Many identity thieves want access to your sensitive online accounts — such as your email, online banking, and social media accounts.
Even if you don’t see signs that you’ve been hacked, you should update all of your passwords, using complex and unique credentials for each account — especially if you’ve used the same password for multiple accounts.
As an added security measure, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on any account that allows it.
Scan your devices for malware
Run an antivirus software to look for malware, infected files, and remote access trojans. By running an antivirus program while online, you will also stop malicious apps and software before they can cause harm to you.
Consider signing up for identity theft protection
Aura’s award-winning identity theft protection solution monitors your most sensitive personal and financial information and alerts you in near real-time of fraudulent activity.
With Aura, you also get:
- Three-bureau credit monitoring with the industry’s fastest fraud alerts3
- Dark Web monitoring to alert you if your personal data or passwords were leaked online
- A full suite of powerful digital security tools to protect you and your whole family against hacking
- 24/7 White Glove Fraud Resolution Support to help you recover from identity theft
- $1 million insurance policy against eligible losses due to identity theft for every adult member on your plan
Where To Get Identity Theft Victim Assistance: 9 Resources
- For all victims: The Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov
- For tax or employment issues: The IRS’ identity theft victim assistance
- For SSN problems: The Social Security Administration (SSA)
- For government benefits fraud: State unemployment offices
- For Medicare fraud: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- For victims of cybercrime: The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- For general advice and help: The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)
- For victims of criminal identity theft: Your local police department
- For personalized support: Aura’s White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists
Since identity theft scams have become so commonplace, many organizations and agencies have developed specialized support channels to help victims.
Note: Keep detailed records of your conversations (and how much time and money you spend) as you work towards recovering from identity theft. You may be able to recoup some or all of your losses and expenses through an identity theft insurance provider.
1. For all victims: The Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov
As a government consumer protection agency, the FTC handles most identity theft and fraud cases. Not only can an official FTC identity theft report help you dispute fraudulent charges, accounts, and information — you also get a personalized recovery plan based on your situation.
Who it’s for: Anyone who thinks or knows their identity has been stolen should file an official report with the FTC.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from the FTC:
- Fill out an identity theft affidavit at IdentityTheft.gov. Use the online tool to detail specific information about your case. You’ll need to provide personal information to prove your identity — such as your SSN, driver’s license number, full legal name, etc. Once you’re done, download or print off a copy of your FTC report, sample letters for disputes, and your recovery plan.
- Alternatively, you can call toll free. Call the FTC at 1–877–FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or the 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) hotline.
- You can also report identity theft at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If you’ve been the victim of fraud, you can use the FTC fraud reporting channel to provide more information about the crime and help future victims.
💡 Additional Resource: Victim of Fraud? Follow This Step-by-Step Recovery Checklist →
2. For tax or employment issues: The IRS’ identity theft victim assistance
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides victim assistance for tax-related identity theft. They will investigate the fraud and help you complete your tax return. The IRS can also flag your account to protect you against future issues.
Who it’s for: Anyone who thinks or knows their tax-related information has been compromised should contact the IRS.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from the IRS:
- Complete an ID Theft Affidavit [*]. Provide a detailed explanation of the fraud, along with your personal and tax information. This will initiate the investigation process.
- Work with Identity Theft Victim Assistance. The IRS will contact you if needed during the investigation. Provide additional information about the current and previous tax years to support the case and recoup any losses.
- Contact your state tax agency. You may need to complete additional steps to dispute fraudulent tax activities at the state level.
💡 Additional Resource: How To Protect Yourself Against Tax Identity Theft →
3. For SSN problems: The Social Security Administration (SSA)
Your Social Security number (SSN) is the key that unlocks your identity — and it’s one of the most common targets of identity thieves and cybercriminals.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) work together to combat Social Security fraud. The OIG investigates any fraud related to an SSA program and will work with the appropriate law enforcement to solve the case.
Who it’s for: Anyone who thinks or knows their tax-related information has been misused should contact the OIG.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from the OIG:
- File a fraud report [*]. The report must include your personal information and as many details about the fraud as possible. Once the process begins, the OIG cannot comment or provide information related to the investigation.
- Call the fraud hotline. Victims who cannot file a report online can call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-269-0271. The same information as the online report must be provided over the phone.
💡 Additional Resource: What To Do If Someone Has Your SSN →
4. For government benefits fraud: State unemployment offices
Every state has an unemployment office or department that oversees Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs. If someone claims unemployment benefits in your name, these departments will investigate the fraud and ensure that you don't receive any penalties or shortages.
Who it’s for: Anyone who thinks or knows their UI has been tampered with should contact their state unemployment office.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from an unemployment office:
- Document all required information. Record any information related to UI fraud. Obtain a copy of your police report to provide to the Department of Labor (or whichever department assists you).
- Complete an identity theft report. Most states have a dedicated online fraud reporting form or phone number for such cases [*]. Multi-state offenses should be reported in multiple states.
- Inform your employer (if applicable). If someone filed for UI in your name, let your employer or Human Resources (HR) department know, as the illegal filing may affect them.
💡 Additional Resource: What To Do If Someone Claimed Unemployment In Your Name →
5. For Medicare fraud: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
The HHS oversees federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. The HHS even has its own Medicare Fraud Strike Force Teams to shut down various fraud schemes and catch fraudsters across the country [*].
Who it’s for: Anyone who thinks or knows their Medicare has been abused should contact the HHS.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from the HHS:
- Contact Medicare directly. You should report any suspected fraud at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Victims need to submit personal and Medicare account information, plus all evidence related to the fraud.
- Submit an OIG hotline complaint. The OIG works closely with the HHS to combat fraud. Submit a complaint to the OIG-HHS via the online form or call 1-800-447-8477.
- Call the Investigations Medicare Drug Integrity Contractor. Report Medicare Advantage Plan or drug plan fraud at 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379).
💡 Additional Resource: What To Do If You’re a Victim of Medical Identity Theft →
6. For victims of cybercrime: The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
The IC3 is run by the FBI and acts as a reporting hub for all incidents of cybercrime. All filed complaints are sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation. The IC3 uses the information collected to improve cyber defenses and public awareness.
Who it’s for: Anyone who thinks or knows they've been victimized by a cybercrime can contact the IC3.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from the FBI:
- File the appropriate complaint. The IC3 has separate sections for crimes related to business emails, ransomware, elder fraud, and other cybercrimes. Select the complaint form that best suits your case, and follow the steps to file your complaint.
- Prepare your evidence. While the IC3 does not collect evidence, law enforcement may contact you and ask you for it — so have any evidence handy.
- Report the crime to your state’s Attorney General. You can also file a complaint with your state’s Attorney General who will investigate the crime.
💡 Additional Resource: How To Tell If Someone Is Scamming You Online →
7. For general advice and help: The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)
The Identity Theft Resource Center provides information about identity theft to organizations and individuals. The recovery center offers live assistance to victims, providing them with resources, guides, and advice to help navigate the recovery process.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants more information about identity theft can contact the ITRC.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from the ITRC:
- Call the recovery center. Dial 1-888-400-5530 and speak to a live agent for information and assistance.
- Use the live chat. You can speak to an agent online between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday.
💡 Additional Resource: What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen →
8. For victims of criminal identity theft: Your local police department
Your local law enforcement agency gets involved in identity theft investigations when you have information that may help the case. For example, if you know who took your identity or if your identity was used in a crime, you should file a police report for identity theft. You may also need a police report to advance a dispute with a financial institution.
Who it’s for: Anyone who has information about a crime should file a police report.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from your local police department:
- Start with an FTC report. The police department will likely ask for an FTC report. Make sure you have one filled out and ready when you speak with your local police.
- Bring all documents and evidence. You need to prove your identity first and then give law enforcement a reason to investigate. Gather and present all of the evidence in a clear and convincing fashion.
- Provide a statement. You may give a statement over the phone, in person, or via an online form. Be clear and detailed. Make sure you ask for a copy of the report or another form of confirmation.
💡 Additional Resource: How To Protect Yourself Against Criminal Identity Theft →
9. For personalized support: Aura’s White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists
No one wants to deal with identity theft on their own. With Aura, you get personalized 24/7 U.S.-based support from a team of trained White Glove Fraud Resolution Specialists.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants protection against identity theft should consider Aura.
How to get identity theft victim assistance from Aura:
- Call Aura 24/7 — 365 days a year. Victims can call Aura's White Glove Fraud Resolution team anytime at 1-844-939-3681. Your dedicated case manager will walk you through credit freezes, disputes, and reports.
- Request reimbursement for eligible losses. Every adult on your Aura plan is covered by a $1 million insurance policy for eligible losses due to identity theft. Ask your case manager to guide you through the claims process.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Identity Theft?
On average, resolving cases of identity theft entails approximately 200 hours of work and about six months to wrap up [*].
However, the recovery process and length depend on how quickly you find out if your identity was stolen and act to secure your identity. Typically, the longer the fraud goes undetected, the more your personal information is compromised — leading to a lengthier and more complicated recovery process.
Even if you do get reimbursed, you can never recoup the time spent or the fees incurred to recover your identity. To make matters worse, identity theft leaves you vulnerable to future crimes. If you’ve been a victim once, there’s a 50% chance that you’ll become a victim again [*].
How To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
It’s impossible to completely secure yourself against identity theft. Instead, the best form of protection is prevention.
Once you’ve dealt with the fallout of being an ID theft victim, take these steps to ensure that you don’t get targeted again:
- Don’t click on suspicious links in texts, emails, or phishing scams.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, and use a VPN to secure your connection.
- Use a password manager, and enable 2FA on all of your accounts.
- Never share personal information or account numbers — especially over the phone or with people you don’t know.
- Regularly review your bank accounts and credit reports for signs of fraud.
- Remove sensitive personal information from social media profiles and online databases (such as data brokers).
- Run antivirus scans regularly to check if you’ve been hacked.
- Update your devices and software to utilize the latest security patches.
- Sign up for one of the best identity theft protection services.
Even with the proper precautions, you never know where, when, or how identity theft will happen. You can, however, make sure you're ready if or when it does happen.
Use the resources on this page to create a plan that enables you to act quickly and stop fraudsters from ruining your finances and credit.
You can also double down and get award-winning identity theft protection from Aura. You'll have access to the fastest fraud alerts in the industry — and dedicated, U.S.-based 24/7 support when you need it most.