What is Identity Theft?
Identity Theft is the largest consumer complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) annually. If you have been the victim of identity theft, it could mean someone has used your name to:
- make purchases
- get credit cards
- rent an apartment or
- obtain utilities without your permission
In some cases, thieves may have received medical services in your name, re-routed your tax refund, or even impersonated you during contact with law enforcement.
Identity theft may also include someone using checks on your account. This could be from stealing your checkbook or electronically obtaining access to your checking account. Use of an ATM card or credit card that you did not approve is also identity theft. In some cases, identity theft occurs within families to children, seniors, and domestic violence survivors, making reporting and recovery especially difficult.
How Might Identity Theft Impact Me?
Even if you are able to resolve a financial identity theft issue with your bank, this use of your name and credit history can result in you getting collection letters for things you did not purchase. It can also result in unfavorable entries on your credit report, causing you problems in getting credit or paying a higher interest rate. Becoming the victim of an identity theft can be a complicated and frustrating time in your life.
What Can I Do?
The Federal Trade Commission has created letters (in this booklet) that consumers can use to notify a debt collector or credit bureau of the theft of your identity. To use the letters, you must first report the crime of identity theft to the police. You do not need to know the name of the person who used your identity. You show the police the debt collection letters or other confirmation that you are the victim of this crime.
The three forms below use the FTC-created material. You can also visit the National Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network to learn more.
Links to the interactive Self-Help Forms are available either by scrolling further down the page or by clicking on the Forms tab above.
Before You Begin:
The information provided and the interactive interviews will give you legal information, not legal advice.
If you do not already have it, you will need to download free Adobe Flash Player to view the interactive interviews.
If you do not have Microsoft Word, you will need to download free Microsoft Word Viewer to print the forms.
This material was produced in part by the Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center, Inc. under award #2010-VF-GX-K030, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, these materials including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided.
For more information on the project or regarding identity theft, you can go to identitytheftnetwork.org
Identity Thefty Interactive Forms
- Letter to Creditor - Use this interactive interview for responding to someone collecting a bill that is in your name, but a bill you did not authorize.
- Letter to Debt Collector - Use this interactive interview for responding to a company or law firm that is a Debt Collector, or collecting a bill that is in your name but you did not authorize.
- Letter to Credit Bureau - Use this interactive interview to create a letter to a Credit Bureau, seeking investigation and removal from your credit report of items that are the result of identity theft.
These forms are not for commercial use and charging for use in any way is prohibited.