How to Report Financial Identity Theft to the FTC

Man learns he has had financial identity theft happen to him
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Reporting identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a critical step toward protecting yourself and your finances when you've been a victim. Thankfully, the FTC has created an online FTC Complaint Assistant to help you easily submit a report.

Before you report identity theft to the FTC, first contact your bank or and other financial institutions where the fraud occurred to secure your accounts. Next, put a fraud alert on your credit report to help stem the tide of potential attempts to access current accounts or create new ones in your name. Also get a copy of your credit report. Visit IdentityTheft.gov, which will walk you through these steps.

Using the FTC's Complaint Assistant

The online FTC Complaint Assistant reporting site will take you through a series of questions to gather information about the theft. Depending on the exact nature of the identity theft, the questions can include:

  • What type of identity theft are you reporting?
  • What did the identity thief use your information for?
  • How was the information misused?
  • Which bank is your account with?
  • When did you first notice the problem?
  • When did fraudulent charges or uses of your identity first begin?
  • Did you lose money? How much?
  • Do you know anything about the person who stole your identity?
  • Have you reviewed a copy of your credit report?
  • Have you reported the theft to the police?
  • Was your personal information exposed through the theft?
  • Has a debt collector contacted you about a debt incurred as a result of identity theft?
  • Tell us what happened in your own words.

The system will also ask for your personal information, and you'll get a chance to review the complaint before submitting it to the FTC online. You'll also be able to print a copy of a document, which they refer to as the Identity Theft Report.

If you prefer phone assistance, you can call 877-438-4338 to file your complaint.

Making Copies and Getting Them Notarized

You'll need to make copies of the FTC Identity Theft Report because any business that you will be working with to resolve your identity theft issue will almost certainly want a copy. You should always keep the original.

You may also want to get the copies notarized. This is not required by law, but it may be a policy with any financial institution or company that you're working with to resolve the effects of the identity theft. In some cases, you'll send the report along with letters to the financial institutions and merchants that you're working with to resolve your case.

Filing a Police Report

The FTC has made an effort to simplify the identity theft reporting process by eliminating the need for a police report in most cases. The Identity Theft Report you create through the FTC's Complaint Assistant can take the place of a police report in helping you resolve matters related to identity theft.

The FTC's reasoning for this is that the Identity Theft Report serves the same purpose as a police report: Proof that you claim to be innocent of the damage caused by identity theft. Since the FTC is a federal law enforcement agency, you're legally required to tell the truth when reporting a crime—and you'll face criminal penalties if you don't. However, you can still file a police report if you choose to do so.

Once the police report is filed, you will want to copy down the case number and get a copy of the full police report once it's available. Once you get a copy of the actual police report, keep the original, and only provide copies when they are required by the businesses you will have to work with to resolve your problem.

Article Sources

  1. Federal Trade Commission. "Identity Theft." Accessed Jan. 26, 2020.

  2. Federal Trade Commission. "Welcome to the FTC Complaint Assistant." Accessed Jan. 26, 2020.

  3. Federal Trade Commission IdentityTheft.gov. "What to Do Right Away." Step 3. Accessed Jan. 2020.

  4. Federal Trade Commission. "Most ID Theft Victims Don’t Need a Police Report." Jan. 26, 2020.