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Identity Theft? Consider a Credit Freeze

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedDec 16, 2009
Key Takeaways:
  • If mystery accounts appear on your credit report, you may be an identity theft victim.
  • The FTC recommends victims take positive steps to mitigate the damage.
  • Identity theft is a common crime in the US.

Addresses other than mine appear on my credit report. I fear they are using my credit. What can I do?

When I ran my credit report there are addresses listed that are not mine. I know who the addresses belong to and I'm afraid that they are using my credit. I don't see anything out of place on my credit report but I want to know how those addresses got associated with my name and SSn. How do I find out?

You are a victim of identity theft. The good news is that you may not be held liable for the debts incurred as the result of identity theft. However, an identity theft victim must take action to be released from liability.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US federal agency tasked to provide consumer protection, offers a Web site for businesses wanting to protect their customers from identity theft, and for consumers who either want to protect themselves from identity theft or who are victims of identity theft. Visit for identity theft information.

According to the FTC, victims of identity theft should take the following four steps:

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports. See for a no-cost, no-gimmick credit report from each of the three consumer credit reporting agencies.
  2. Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Details on how to take each of the four steps can be found at the FTC recover from identity theft page.

The Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization, also offers information for identity theft victims.

Credit Freeze

I recommend you consider freezing your credit report. A freeze prevents creditors and credit bureaus, as well as others, from using credit in your name. A freeze places a PIN number on your account, and only you or someone you tell the PIN to can access your credit report. A credit freeze makes it impossible for someone to open a new account in your name.

Contact the three consumer credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to begin the freeze process. A freeze costs nothing, $5, $10, or $20 depending on your state of residence. The process is free if you have proof you are a credit theft victim.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.