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Fraud Victim Bill of Rights

Managing the effects of identity theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses a combination of your name, Social Security Number, date of birth, or other identifying information, without authority, to commit fraud. For example, someone may have committed identity theft by using your personal information to open a credit card account or get a loan in your name.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you are, the victim of identity theft. Here is a brief summary of the rights designed to help you recover from identity theft:
  • You have the right to ask the major credit reporting companies to place a Fraud Alert on your credit report. This will let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A Fraud Alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. It also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You only need to notify one of the three credit reporting companies: as soon as that company processes your Fraud Alert, it will notify the other two, which must then also place Fraud Alerts on your report.

    Place a Fraud Alert on your credit reports – online, right now >>
  • An Initial Fraud Alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. An Extended Alert stays on your report for seven years. To place either of these alerts, you will need to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security Number. If you ask for an Extended Alert, you will have to provide an identity theft report. An identity theft report includes a copy of a report you have filed with a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, plus any additional information requested. For more detailed information about the identity theft report, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft and www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.
  • You have the right to free copies of the information on your credit report. An Initial Fraud Alert entitles you to a copy of all the information in your report at each of the three major credit reporting companies, and an Extended Alert entitles you to two free reports in a 12-month period following the placement of the alert. These additional disclosures may help you detect signs of fraud, whether fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or whether someone has reported a change in your address. Also, regardless of whether you suspect fraud or not, you have the right to a free copy of the information on your report at any credit reporting company once a year, as well as the ability to obtain additional free credit reports under other provisions of the FCRA. See www.ftc.gov/credit and www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.
  • You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity, if you ask for them in writing. A business may ask you for proof of your identity, a police report and an affidavit before giving you the documents. It also may specify an address for you to send your request. Under certain circumstances, a business can refuse to provide you with these documents. See www.ftc.gov/idtheft and www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.
  • You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector. If you ask, a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debt you believe was incurred in your name by an identity thief, such as the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.
  • If you believe information in your report results from identity theft, you have the right to ask a credit reporting company to block that information from your credit report. An identity thief may run up bills in your name and not pay them. Information about the unpaid bills may appear on your credit report. Should you decide to ask a credit reporting company to block the reporting of this information, you must identify the information to block, and provide the company with proof of your identity and a copy of your identity theft report. The credit reporting company can refuse or cancel your request for a block if, for example, you don’t provide the necessary documentation, or if the block results from an error or a material misrepresentation of fact made by you. If the company declines or rescinds the block, it must notify you. Once a debt resulting from identity theft has been blocked, a person or business with notice of the block may not sell, transfer, or place the debt for collection.
  • You also may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to credit reporting companies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft. To do so, you must send your request to the address specified by the business that reports the information to the credit reporting companies. The business will expect you to identify what information you do not want reported and to provide an identity theft report.

To learn more about identity theft and how to deal with its consequences, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft, www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore, or write to the FTC or the CFPB. You may have additional rights under state law. For more information, contact your local consumer protection agency or your state attorney general.

In addition to the new rights and procedures to help consumers deal with the effects of identity theft, the FCRA has many other important consumer protections. They are described in more detail at www.ftc.gov/credit and www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.

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