Identity theft occurs when someone uses an individual’s personal information without permission to receive some kind of benefit, most commonly money and property.
Personal data may also be used by an imposter to fraudulently obtain employment, housing, medical care, utility services, education, or to avoid a record of arrest or conviction.
With increasing reliance on technologies to communicate and conduct business, opportunities for criminals to victimize have multiplied. Individuals need to react quickly to victimization and take preventive steps to ensure their personal data is secure.
The following resources provide guidance on what to do if a person becomes a victim of identity theft as well as resources to assist in responding to and preventing this crime.
Basic Steps to Take if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
Close Compromised Accounts Immediately
Contact every company where an account has been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Review your credit reports for additional fraudulent accounts. Close them where necessary. Follow up in writing.
File a Police Report
Report the identity theft to your local law enforcement agency. Provide the police with a copy of your FTC complaint and request them to attach it to the police report. Ask for a copy of the report for your records.
When you make a report, request that your name be submitted to the FBI’s NCIC Identity Theft File, which provides a means for law enforcement to flag stolen identities and identify imposters when they are encountered.
Place a Fraud Alert
Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report and obtain a copy of your credit report by contacting one of these credit reporting agencies (CRAs). The CRA you contact must notify the others.
Report Identity Theft
Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): ftc.gov/complaint or 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Complete the online complaint form and provide a printed copy of it to your local law enforcement agency to be attached to your police report. The report is needed to correct any errors on your credit report or challenge fraudulent transactions.
Further Steps to Protect Yourself
Obtain a copy of your credit report periodically and review it carefully. You have a right to one free credit report each year from each credit reporting agency. To request a copy of your credit report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.
Seven-Year Fraud Alert
Consider placing a seven-year extended fraud alert on your credit report. You must provide a copy of your identity theft report and explain how creditors can contact you. The credit reporting companies will put your contact information on the extended fraud alert to tell potential creditors they must contact you before issuing credit in your name.
Consider placing a freeze on your credit. A credit freeze prevents the credit reporting agency from releasing a consumer’s credit report or any information from it without the consumer’s express authorization.
To place a credit freeze, victims must send their request to each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies along with a police report or police case number documenting identity theft. Keep in mind that if you wish to get credit, you will have to temporarily “unfreeze” your credit. For more information, see Minnesota Identity Theft Freeze Law.
Specific Identity Theft Issues
Minnesota Driver’s License or ID Card Taken
If your license or state ID card has been stolen or used improperly, you will need to get a replacement at your local driver’s license office. You can complete a form to request a “driving record flag” that will alert law enforcement officers that someone else may be using your identity. For more information, contact the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services at 651-297-3298.
Your Name Has Been Used in a Criminal Case
If someone has represented themselves as you in a criminal prosecution, you can contact the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to question the identity on the criminal record. For information, go to the BCA website or call 651-793-2400. You will be asked to complete a Questioned Identity Form. Additional information on how to deal with criminal identity theft can be found in the Criminal Identity Theft Roadmap.
Someone has Filed a Tax Return in Your Name
For information on steps to take if an imposter has fraudulently filed a tax return under your name and claimed a refund go to the IRS website
(Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft) and the Minnesota Department of Revenue website.
Report Internet Crimes
Report Lost or Stolen Social Security Cards
Report Lost or Stolen Passport, Immigration, or Citizenship Documents
If your U.S. passport, naturalization, or citizenship certificate has been lost or stolen, go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Website or call 1-800-375-5283. To replace a green card, see the USCIS Website. For information about lost or stolen passports, visas, or arrival/departure records, see the U.S. Department of State Website for information. If you are not a United States citizen, you must contact your consulate to replace your passport. Some consulates will request a law enforcement report.
For information about reporting specific identity theft and fraud issues, visit:
Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force: StopFraud
Online Resources for Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft
Deter Detect Defend
Office for Victims of Crime
Avoid ID Theft (video from the Federal Trade Commission)
National Resource Centers
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
Guarding Your Privacy: Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
Consumer Alert: What to do When your Personal Information Has Been Breached
Minnesota Identity Theft Freeze Law
Writing Identity Theft Letters (Online Do-it-Yourself Tool)
Useful Guides and Forms
Minnesota Identity Theft Road Map English | Spanish
Minnesota Identity Theft Toolkit Word | PDF
Minnesota Criminal Identity Theft Roadmap
Identity Theft Victim Rights Minnesota | Federal
Safeguarding Your Child's Future (handout on child identity theft from the Federal Trade Commission)
Identity Theft in a Domestic Abuse Situation (Identity Theft Victims Assistance Network)