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Prevention

What Is an Identity Theft Affidavit?

An Identity Theft Affidavit is a document used by victims of identity theft to prove to businesses that their personal information was used to open a fraudulent account. This document includes personal information as well as a formal statement about the facts surrounding the identity theft.

Where Can I Get an Identity Theft Affidavit Form?

If you suspect you've fallen victim to fraud, it's recommended you immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to file a formal complaint. Through the FTC's IdentityTheft.gov website, you'll report what happened and the FTC will craft a "recovery plan" that helps guide you through the process of remedying your situation.

Once you provide the FTC with your information, you'll get an FTC Identity Theft Report, which among other things will include your Identity Theft Affidavit. This document will play a key role in providing official proof of the fraud when you go to dispute new accounts or marks on your credit.

In addition to the FTC's IdentityTheft.gov site, which guides you through the reporting process, the FTC provides consumers with a host of educational information on how to protect against identity theft.

Other government agencies also provide guidance on identity theft, including the IRS, which outlines the process for reporting tax-related fraud; the U.S. Department of Justice, which provides statistics, research and resources on identity theft throughout the country; and USA.gov, which offers information and advice on different types of identity theft and scams.

Regardless of which type of fraud you've fallen victim to, reporting your case to the FTC is a critical first step that will provide you with key resources—like your Identity Theft Affidavit—you may need when working through recovery.

What Information Do I Need to File an Identity Theft Affidavit?

To complete the FTC's Identity Theft Affidavit, you need to provide personal data including your Social Security number, address and contact information. You also will need to provide your driver's license number or information from another government-issued ID.

Once you provide your personal data, you'll be asked to explain the details of the fraud committed, including some of the following details:

  • Whether any of the personal information in your credit report is incorrect as a result of the fraud.
  • Whether any new accounts or inquiries were listed in your credit reports as a result of the fraud.
  • Details of any fraudulently opened accounts, or accounts that have been tampered with as a result of the identity theft.

Finally, since an affidavit is an official statement, you'll need to declare whether you authorized anyone to use your information, whether you benefited in any way from the fraud, and whether you are willing to work with law enforcement if charges are brought against anyone found to have stolen your identity.

Though you'll be asked if you are willing to work with police in the event charges are brought against someone, you don't actually need to file a police report to obtain an Identity Theft Affidavit.

Do I Need an Identity Theft Affidavit to Report Fraudulent Use of One of My Accounts?

In most cases, an Identity Theft Affidavit is not needed to report fraud on any of your accounts. They are typically used to dispute new accounts that have been opened in your name. However, your lender may require you to fill out a Identity Theft Affidavit in order for them to complete a fraud investigation on your account.

Each creditor or business will have its own fraud protocols, and it's important you contact each one directly to see what they require when reporting identity theft or fraud. In some cases they may want a police report and may even ask for a notarized Identity Theft Affidavit. In other cases, they may resolve the fraud internally without additional documentation.

Even if you have not reported the fraud to the FTC or police, if you've noticed anything unusual on any of your existing accounts, or found new accounts that are not yours, contact the companies immediately to create a record of your situation. If fraud has occurred on an existing account, the lender will likely close the account and issue you a new account number, which should help protect you by ensuring the fraud does not continue.

Can I Use the FTC's Identity Theft Affidavit to Report Tax Fraud?

If any of your personal information was used for tax-related fraud, you will need to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, known as Form 14039. This will help you resolve any IRS-related issues you may be experiencing due to identity theft. You can submit Form 14039 online as part of the FTC report process on IdentityTheft.gov.

You could be a victim of tax fraud and not even know it, so be on the lookout throughout the year for signs your identity may have been stolen. Common signs of tax fraud include:

  • Finding that your tax return has already been filed by someone else.
  • Receiving a tax form from an unknown employer.
  • Receiving a tax return you didn't expect.
  • You received a phone call from the IRS demanding payment.

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Unfortunately, you can't always prevent identity theft. With so much personal information being exchanged, and so much data falling into the hands of fraudsters, the risk of identity theft is greater than ever.

The first step to protecting yourself is being cautious about when and with whom you share your personal data. The less of your information that is out there, the lower the chances a fraudster gets their hands on your data. Stay away from shady websites and links and create secure passwords to make it harder for anyone to hack your accounts; take note of whether site or link URLs contain "https," which indicates that the site is secure.

Using a credit monitoring service can help you notice identity theft or fraud as soon as possible. Credit monitoring will alert you of changes to your credit reports, which can tip you off about suspicious activity. If a new account appears in your credit file, or you see that one of your accounts has an inaccurate balance, this could be due to a fraudster obtaining your personal information.

By alerting you to these changes, credit monitoring enables you to act quickly to resolve any fraud that occurs. You can get free credit monitoring from Experian.

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