Official State of Iowa Website

Steps to Take if You Have Been a Victim of Identity Theft

If you find out or have reason to suspect you have been the victim of identity theft, act as soon as possible.

Icon of a checklist and a pencilContact the credit card company, bank, credit union, or other company that holds the account that has been stolen or misused right away. If the fraud is on your credit or debit card, they will cancel your card and send you a new card with a new account number, expiration date, and security code. You also have a limited amount of time to dispute charges, so you should act as soon as you find out about the issue. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Identity Theft website provides sample letters you can use to dispute charges.

Change passwords and pins on accounts that may have been compromised. If you use the password or pin for anything else, you should change those as well.  

Report the identity theft to the police. When you make the report, make sure the police file a criminal report and get a copy of the report. When you make the report, fill out the application for an Identity Theft Passport.

Report the identity theft to the FTC. The FTC’s Identity Theft website will help you develop a recovery plan.  

Place a security freeze on your credit reports. To do this, you need to contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion each separately. Before giving someone credit (such as a car loan or a new credit card), the bank or company will almost always first check their credit file. If the information of multiple people in your family has been taken, you will need to place separate freezes for each person. For more information on security freezes, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website. Make sure to contact all three credit agencies:

Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. In this case, you only need to contact one of the three credit agencies, who will then forward your request to the other agencies. This alert is basically a red flag to creditors that you may have been the victim of identity theft, and that they should be extra careful to confirm your identity before giving you new loans or lines of credit. The initial alert lasts for one year. Victims of identity theft can also put in place an extended fraud alert, which lasts 7 years. For an extended fraud alert, you will need an identity theft report from a law enforcement agency or an FTC Identity Theft Report. More information is available from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  

Order your free credit report and review it carefully. You can request a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). To do this, visit the Annual Credit Report website to make your request. You can get additional free reports in certain situations. For more information on free credit reports, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website. Review the report carefully, and if you need to dispute any inaccurate information on the report, the FTC’s Identity Theft website provides sample letters you can use to dispute charges.    

For more information on identity theft, visit the Iowa Attorney General’s website, the FTC’s Identity Theft website, or Iowa Legal Aid's website, and watch the video below from the FTC.