Scam prevention expert Sid Kirchheimer outlines the steps you should take if you are victimized by identity theft—or merely suspect you may have been.

Contact a Law Enforcement Agency
It's unlikely that your local police department will solve the case—or even investigate it. Still, filing a police report may help you regain your good name—and your good credit rating—with creditors and credit reporting bureaus. After contacting your local police, you may also need to notify the police department that oversees the location where the identity theft most likely occurred. (You should also contact your state Attorney General's office, which may direct you to other agencies.)
  • If the identity theft occurred from online activity, contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center) at www.ic3.gov.
  • If you believe the identity theft resulted from mail theft, report it at www.usps.com/websites/depart/inspect.
  • If you suspect you were victimized by ATM skimming or crime involving your debit card, notify the local Secret Service field office; a contact list is available at www.secretservice.gov/field_offices.shtml.
  • If you believe your credit card number (or the little plastic rectangle itself) has been stolen, notify the fraud department of your credit card company.