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The Financial Crimes Task Force recommends taking the following steps should you become a victim of a financial crime or identity theft:
PLACE A "FRAUD ALERT" OR "VICTIM STATEMENT" ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT
Contact Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and inform them that you are a victim. Ask that they place a "fraud alert" or "victim statement" on your credit report and that they contact you personally prior to the opening of any new accounts. Be sure to order a copy of your credit report for review to make sure that no additional fraudulent activity has occurred. Send this letter to each of the credit bureaus to reiterate your concerns.
NOTE: These "fraud alerts" are only as good as the creditors who see them and choose to adhere by them. Creditors may often gamble with purchases that appear legitimate and simply write off the loss if the sale turns out to be fraudulent.
AND CLOSE ALL ACCOUNTS THAT WERE OPENED FRAUDULENTLY
The Fair Credit Billing Act has established procedures for resolving errors or fraudulent charges on your credit cards. Under the act, you must contact creditors in writing within 60 days from when the creditor would have mailed the erroneous statement. Be sure to send this letter by certified mail, return receipt so that you have proof that the creditor received it. The creditor must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days and must resolve the dispute within 2 billing cycles.
AN ALERT ON ACCOUNTS NOT YET AFFECTED
AGENCIES ISSUING YOU PHOTO IDENTIFICATION
For travelers whose passports are stolen, the U.S. Department of State has a section on their web-site devoted to reporting a lost or stolen passport. This information is entered into the Consular Lost/Stolen Passport System. Passports which are reported as lost or stolen are invalidated and can no longer be used for travel.
A REPORT WITH YOUR HOMETOWN POLICE
A police report is important because many creditors require one to resolve your dispute and credit bureaus will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and bad debts from appearing on your credit report. If you can't get the local police to file a report, be sure to check with the county or state police in your area.
A COMPLAINT WITH THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Consumer Response Center toll free at 1-877-FTC-HELP or on the web at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.
YOUR COURSE OF ACTION
Follow up in writing with all the contacts you have made, mailing any correspondence as certified mail/ return receipt requested. Finally, set up a filing system for easy access and maintain records even after the case is closed. Errors may still pop-up years after the situation has been corrected.
IMPACT ON THE VICTIMS
It's normal to have emotional feelings. Express your feelings by talking and seek support from family, friends, chat rooms, support groups in your community, counselors and professionals.
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