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
  • If you believe the identity theft resulted from mail theft, report it at
  • 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
  • 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.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.


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