Who Do You Call for Identity Theft?

One in 15 people are victims of identity theft every single year ranging from a one-time charge on a debit card up to serious credit card or loan balances. People living in the United States are more likely than those in other countries to become victims of identity theft, too. One in three people in the U.S. has been a victim of identity theft at least once. There are many different reasons for this, but since data breaches have been on the rise it’s expected that more people will continue to suffer the consequences of stolen identity in years to come.
If you’re searching for “who do I call about identity theft” or want to know more about how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim, read on.

How to Determine if You’ve Been a Victim of Identity Theft

Evaluating your individual finances on a regular basis is one of the best ways to avoid becoming a victim. If you’re always on top of your own financial situation, it will be that much easier to spot and dispute instances of stolen identity, too.
You might discover that you’re a victim of identity theft in a few ways, including:

  • Spotting strange charges on your bank account
  • Being denied a line of credit or loan due to adverse activity on your accounts that wasn’t done by you
  • Errors and mistakes on your credit report
  • Being alerted by your bank account about unexpected or extremely high charges

Install your mobile banking app on your phone so you can monitor when charges are made on your account. Banks use advanced technology to tell when a charge looks suspicious. If you’re going to travel soon, tell them where you’ll be so they don’t accidentally cancel your card in the middle of your vacation. Likewise, if you need to charge more than your daily limit, give them a call as some banks will automatically decline the charge or flag it as fraud.

More answers to commonly asked questions

In all of these situations, you need to ask quickly. If a loved one asks you, “Who do I call about identity theft?” then the first call needs to be to the account manager of the line of credit in question. If it’s a debit card, that’s the bank. A credit card company can freeze or block your card if that’s where attempted identity theft happened. If you find errors on your credit report, contact the reporting agency in question as soon as possible so as to start the ball rolling on getting any further transactions blocked.
As annoying as it is, the safest way to prevent further identity theft is to request entirely new cards. Even if you’re the only person who holds a physical copy of a credit or debit card, if it was used online, at a gas station, or at a retail store it’s possible the criminals made a physical dupe that’s working. You need to cancel the card in full and get the credit card company to freeze it right away.
If any other companies might be affected by this singular instance, notify them as well. Imagine that someone swiped your wallet and made note of all your cards or that multiple things about you were released in a data breach. In these situations, you want to be prepared for the possibility of more than one breach. If your credit card was stolen, consider replacing your debit card as well.
If you need your card as soon as possible, ask your bank if they will overnight you a new one so that you don’t have disruptions to your financial situation more than you already have.

Depending on your situation, there are a few other phone calls that should be made as soon as possible. These are:

  • A call to your identity theft insurance carrier, if you have one. They’ll be able to advise you more fully if there are other things you need to do to protect yourself.
  • Call the Federal Trade Commission or fill out a report on their website about identity theft. 
  • Call the credit report agencies and request that a fraud alert is placed on your account. This will stay there for one year.
  • Alert your local police department if the issue happened in a local establishment, like a fast-food restaurant. It’s possible you’re not the only victim. It’s a good idea to tell the local police in case the criminal does anything else under your name. Having a report published that you shared concerns over identity theft will protect you in this instance.
  • Let your utility and phone companies know in case either of these accounts is used to open other lines of credit. Utility bills in your name are popular ways to open new lines of credit or get new government documents, so it should be well established that your information has been stolen.
  • If your information was used at a place like a gas station or store in the last hour, you might also consider calling the store directly and ask if they have any physical description of the person involved. This often won’t work if it’s been some time since the incident happened or if the charge happened online.

In addition to making these calls, you might also want to put a freeze on your personal credit accounts. This stops anyone from opening accounts with your personal details like a Social Security Number. Bear in mind that some months down the road you might have to revisit this to have the freeze taken off if you’re trying to buy a car or get a line of credit legitimately.
Beyond freezing your personal credit, you also need to take advantage of credit monitoring. If your information was leaked in a data breach, sometimes credit monitoring is offered as an outcome of that case. If not, you’ll want to sign up for that on your own so that you’ll be more likely to know if another instance of identity theft occurs.
If your information was stolen, like a Social Security card or your driver’s license, you’ll need to replace that information as quickly as possible. If someone is using your license or attempts to in the future, that number can be flagged when you contact the DMV.

If you previously had automatic payments set up to cover certain bills from a bank account or credit card that is now closed due to identity theft, you’ll want to update your payment details as soon as you have the new ones.

Catching the person who stole your identity is not always easy although it might be simpler if you filed a police report promptly. There are so many cases of identity theft that it’s hard for police and other authorities to track down all the perpetrators.
Punishment for identity theft is based on state and local laws. This can include fines, imprisonment, restitution, probation, and more. While these are the consequences for the person accused, the person whose identity is stolen can have repercussions, too.
For the person who suffers the identity theft, this can include:

  • Problems with your credit report and a damaged history
  • Tax debt if your info is used to open new accounts when taxes are not paid
  • A criminal record

If identity theft is more serious than a charge or two, you should be able to report all these concerns and get it fixed quickly. You can handle disputing the charges made by someone else with the impacted companies pretty easily when you have all the evidence on your side, including police reports.
However, if things have been more serious, it could take months for you to work with all the reporting agencies to get these errors and mistaken charges off your record. For crimes and other major violations, you might be looking at years to fix these issues.

Let this be a good reminder to update all of your passwords. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, especially if any of those are financial in nature, swap them all out. Use a strong password generator or a tool like LastPass to keep things secure and decrease your chances of getting your identity stolen again.


Most cases of identity theft involve one person trying to run up as much as possible in your name during a short period of time to reduce their possibility of being caught. However, it’s still possible that someone could hack into your accounts more than once. If you have been a victim of identity theft more than once, this is a good opportunity to increase your own security.


If you have issues in bankruptcy, make sure you get these payments for debts run up in your name from identity theft excluded from that. You do not have to repay debts someone else accumulated.