Police do sometimes investigate identity theft cases, but the success of this investigation may depend on how much information you already have about the theft. Identity theft can happen to anyone and can affect your credit score and ability to do things like rent an apartment, buy a car or get a loan. The four main types of identity theft include financial, tax, medical, and child. You should report identity theft to the police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Identity theft is a frightening prospect that affects millions of people each year. In 2021 alone, the FTC received nearly 1.4 million reports of identity theft from over 2.8 million people. Once a person has your personal information, they can use it to run up fraudulent charges on your credit cards, apply for loans in your name, and even give your name to a police officer if they’ve committed a crime or appeared in court.
Identity theft takes a number of different forms and causes real damage to your credit report and financial accounts. Filing a police report and reporting the incident to the FTC can provide you with proof that the identity theft occurred, which will help you recoup any losses with creditors and begin rebuilding your credit.
What are the four types of identity theft?
Identity theft can occur in a variety of ways and can be disguised by criminals seeking to take your personal information from you without you noticing. You should immediately report identity theft if you believe you’ve been the victim. However, some forms of identity theft are more harmful than others.
Financial identity theft
Financial identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s financial information for their own gain. This is the most common form of identity theft. For example, a criminal might use your credit card number or bank account information to make purchases or to steal money.
Regularly checking your credit card statements, bank account statements, and bills can help you spot any irregular activity. If you see anything suspicious, immediately contact the associated financial institutions.
Tax identity theft
Tax identity theft happens when criminals gain access to your Social Security number or other personal information and use it to file a tax return on your behalf. This is often so they can steal your tax refund.
If you attempt to file your tax returns online and learn that one has already been submitted, you may have been a victim of tax identity theft. If you believe this has happened to you, you can contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and fill out Form 14039, which is the Identity Theft Affidavit.
Medical identity theft
Medical identity theft occurs when a criminal uses another person’s name or health insurance to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, file claims with an insurance provider, or receive other care. This can affect your future health treatments, as well as insurance and payment records.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of medical identity theft, be sure to review any Explanation of Benefits statements you receive from your health insurance company for unfamiliar doctor’s visits or charges. Any errors should be reported to your healthcare provider as soon as you discover a fraudulent charge.
Child identity theft
A thief can use a child’s Social Security number to open a bank account or credit card account, apply for a loan, utility service, government benefits, or rent an apartment. Since children under the age of 16 don’t have credit reports, it’s possible they might not even be aware of the fraud until they apply for a job or try taking out student loans.
If you think your child has had their identity stolen, you can ask the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) for a credit report. Your child should not have one if they are under 16, so if you find they do have a credit report in their name, report this to the FTC.
Should I report identity theft to the police?
Yes, you should report identity theft to the police. A police report is a sworn statement that you were not responsible for any crimes, theft, or similar actions that were committed in your name. You can also file an FTC identity theft report at IdentityTheft.gov.
According to the FTC, you should report identity theft to the police in these cases:
- You know who the identity thief is or have other information that could help the police investigation.
- An identity thief used your name when they had an encounter with the police. For example, if they got pulled over in a traffic stop and gave your name instead of their own.
- A creditor, debt collector, or other party insists that you produce a police report.
Reporting identity theft
When you go to your local police department or the office of your local law enforcement agency to report a case of identity theft, make sure to come prepared. It’s important to bring the following information to your visit:
- A copy of your FTC identity theft report
- A government-issued photo ID
- Proof of your address, such as a utility bill or mortgage statement
- Proof of the identity theft, such as credit card statements, collection notices, or IRS notices
Do police investigate identity theft?
Due to the complicated nature of identity theft, it is often difficult for the police to conduct a thorough investigation. There can be numerous jurisdictions involved, and if the internet was used, that can add another layer of complexity. If a police department is especially busy, your case might get pushed to the back of the line.
That said, the police can investigate identity theft, so it’s still worthwhile to file a police report. Not only will this help prove your innocence, but it can also help convince creditors that you were a victim of identity theft. Having written proof that a crime has been committed against you will help you recoup the losses from these agencies.
Tips when filing a police report for identity theft
Not all police officers are familiar with the steps involved in reporting identity theft. For that reason, it’s important for you to be prepared before you decide to file a police report.
- Be specific and give as much detailed information as possible in the report. The more information you provide, the better the police will be able to help.
- Make copies of both your identity theft report with the police and the FTC. You’ll need to show these to any companies where the thief used your name.
- Contact your state attorney general’s office if the police aren’t able to take your identity theft report. States can have different processes for reporting identity theft, which may involve other law enforcement agencies.
What are the ways you can detect ID theft?
Frequently reviewing your credit reports and account statements can help you notice instances of identity theft before they cause serious damage. Though you previously could only get one free credit report per year, this has recently changed. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, you can get one free credit report per month from any of the major credit bureaus.
You can also check public records for liens or civil court judgments in your name. If someone has stolen your identity, they might use your information if they’ve been arrested or appeared in court.
What are two actions a person can take if their identity is stolen?
If your identity has been stolen, there are a number of actions you can take. The first thing you should do is notify any companies where fraudulent charges occurred that your identity was stolen, and you were not the person making any transactions. If a criminal is opening accounts in your name or using your Social Security number, you might want to proactively notify other companies and agencies, including the IRS.
The second action you can take is to file a police report or one with the FTC. This allows you to have a record of the identity theft and provides proof should your creditors or any debt collectors raise an issue over your credit report.
Additional actions a person can take include:
- Filing a claim with their identity theft insurance provider, if they have one;
- Requesting a credit freeze from the major credit bureaus;
- Tightening security on your accounts, including changing your passwords; and
- Signing up for a credit monitoring service, which may be complimentary if your personal information was accessed in a data breach.
As well as monitoring your credit, you can enlist the help of a credit repair company to help tackle your credit decline.
What happens with identity theft victims?
If you believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, one of the most important things you can do is contact your credit card companies and financial institutions to dispute any fraudulent charges. In addition to this, file an FTC identity theft report and report the identity theft to the police as soon as you can.
Additionally, many victims of identity theft report experiencing mental, emotional, and even physical distress due to the damage it has caused. Depending on how much information the thieves collected and the financial hit you took, it can take an extended period of time to put your life back together. This can also cause fear in the future of using your credit card or giving out personal information.
Can identity theft affect my credit report?
If a perpetrator of identity theft uses your information to take out loans or open credit card accounts in your name that they don’t pay off, your credit will be adversely affected.
Your credit score can help you apply for mortgages, get better interest rates on your credit card, and take out loans of your own. This means an identity theft can sabotage not only your financial savings but also your future financial plans and goals.
Request a credit freeze with the three major credit bureaus if you believe that your identity has been stolen. This will stop any further damage to your credit report.
How can I rebuild my credit after my identity has been stolen?
In order to begin rebuilding your credit after your identity has been stolen, you first need to identify all fraudulent accounts and purchases made using your name. Then you can dispute the fraudulent charges and recoup some of the money you might have lost. This is when it might be helpful to have a copy of your police report or FTC identity theft report, to serve as proof that your identity was stolen.
You can also freeze your credit with the three major credit bureaus. This will prevent creditors or lenders from accessing your credit, and it will prevent any further fraud from happening. However, if you want to apply for a loan or new credit card, you’ll have to temporarily lift the credit freeze.
- Millions of identity theft cases are reported every year, so it’s best to be aware and cautious of this issue.
- The four main types of identity theft include financial, tax, medical, and child identity theft.
- Report identity theft to the police. A police report is a sworn statement that you were not responsible for any crimes or theft that were committed in your name. You can also file an FTC identity theft report at IdentityTheft.gov.
- Due to the complicated nature of identity theft, it is often difficult for the police to conduct a thorough investigation. However, they will still conduct an investigation if possible.
- According to the FTC, you should report identity theft to the police if you know who the identity thief is, if they used your name when they had an encounter with the police, or if a creditor or debt collector insists that you produce a police report.
- If you believe your identity was stolen, request a credit freeze with the three major credit bureaus to prevent further damage to your credit report.
View Article Sources
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- What Consumers Can Do About Identity Theft — Federal Trade Commission
- Identity Theft and Financial Fraud — Bureau of Justice Statistics
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- Lost or Stolen Wallet? 6 Things You Need To Do Immediately — SuperMoney
- Business Identity Theft: The Complete Guide — SuperMoney
- Is Identity Theft Protection Worth the Money? — SuperMoney
- 11 Ways To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft — SuperMoney
- What is Swiping Scamming? — SuperMoney