In addition to identity theft, every year millions of people are victims of frauds and scams, which often start with an e-mail, text message, or phone message that appears to be from a legitimate, trusted organization. The message typically asks consumers to verify or update personal information. Similarly, criminals create bogus websites for such things as credit repair services in the hopes that consumers will enter personal information.
If you think you are a victim of a fraud or scam, contact your state, local, or federal consumer protection agency. Also, a local law enforcement officer may be able to provide advice and assistance. By promptly reporting fraud, you improve your chances of recovering what you have lost and you help law enforcement. The agency you contact first may take action directly or refer you to another agency better positioned to protect you.
Suspect identity theft?
Contact Call For Action at 1-866-ID-HOTLINE or visit www.callforaction.org for free and confidential assistance. Here are the steps you should expect to follow in order to restore your identity:
- Minimize impact. Contact each of the three credit agencies (www.equifax.com; www.experian.com; www.transunion.com) to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Contact local police. File a police report for every locale where the fraud has occurred.
- Contact creditors on fraudulent accounts. If new accounts have been opened in your name, you'll need to contact each creditor by phone and in writing.
- Contact existing creditors. Contact America's Christian Credit Union immediately.
Suspect email fraud?
If you've received an email that appears to be from your card issuer, contact America's Christian CU immediately using the customer service number on your monthly statement.
If you've received an email that appears to be from Visa requesting financial information or other personal data, notify Visa right away at email@example.com. Forward any fraudulent or suspicious email to the Better Business Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suspect consumer fraud?
Violations of federal laws should be reported to the federal agency responsible for enforcement. Consumer complaints are used to document patterns of abuse, allowing the agency to take action against a company.
People who have no intention of delivering what is sold, who misrepresent items, send counterfeit goods or otherwise try to trick you out of your money are committing fraud. If you suspect fraud, there are some additional steps to take.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
- If the fraud involved mail or an interstate delivery service, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/). It is illegal to use the mail to misrepresent or steal money.