Victims of Identity Theft: What Next?  File a Police Report

Identity theft has become a major problem for millions of consumers, companies and financial institutions throughout the world.  The losses for victims of this crime add up to billions of dollars on an annual basis.  As technology evolves, criminals are using more sophisticated methods of identity theft, making this act much more difficult to prevent. 

Contact your police department ASAP

Though many crimes of identity theft are not committed in a physical nature, your local police department can play a huge role in the recovery process.  Along with your credit card companies and financial institutions, the police should be contacted immediately if you suspect that someone has committed this crime.  Ask the local authorities if the crime can be filed in person opposed to over the phone or the internet.  The importance of an identity theft incident should always be stressed so that your report is taken serious.

Insist on filing your report

If the police department is reluctant to file a report for identity theft, ask them if you can file a Miscellaneous Incident report.  If you are still having trouble, try another jurisdiction such as the county or state police.  You can also inquire within your state Attorney General's office to learn exactly what is required in order for the local law enforcement agency to take your reports of identity theft.  If accepted, you should ask the police for a copy of the report in order to dispute fraudulent accounts and debt created by an identity thief.   In some jurisdictions, an officer may not be able to provide you with an official police report.  When this occurs, ask them to provide you with a number for the report so your claim can be referenced at a later time. 

The value of a police report against identity theft

A police report can be very helpful when it comes to restoring your identity.  Many credit card companies and financial institutions will require this type of documentation to prove that your accounts have truly been compromised.  When providing this information to the appropriate parties, always give them copies and keep the original documents for yourself.     

Involve community resources

For additional assistance, you can also ask your local police department to search the Federal Trade Commission's CSD (Computer Sentinel Database) for other identity victims in the area.  If they are able to detect patterns, the police just may take your report more seriously.  This is why it is also important to file identity theft reports with the Federal Trade Commission as well.  The more authority figures you are able to involve into the situation, the faster you will be able to restore you identity and catch the individual who committed the crime. 

Citizens who have been victimized by identity theft outside of the United States should report the crime to that country's federal trade or consumer affairs departments.  Those vacationing in foreign countries can typically file reports of this crime with the local Embassy. 

When filing any report against identity theft, make sure to remain organized by filling out the appropriate forms and worksheets to document the process.  Keep track of every individual, credit card company and financial institution you have contacted.  Take note of everything that has transpired and keep this information in a safe place.  This makes it much easier to prove your case when seeking financial restitution or pressing charges against a suspected criminal. 

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.