Victim of Identity Theft? Know Your Rights

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), an American federal law, gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you are, the victim of identity theft. The law details six rights designed to help you recover from identity theft. These rights are listed below:

  1. You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file. These alerts let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. An Initial Security Alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An Extended Fraud Victim Alert stays in your file for seven years.

  2. You are entitled to one free credit report each year. Each of the three national credit reporting firms must provide a free report annually. To obtain a free annual report, you must request it through the Annual Credit Report Request Service, online at or by phone at 877-322-8228.

  3. You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity if you ask for the information in writing.

  4. You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector. If you ask, a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debt you believe was incurred in your name by an identity thief—such as the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.

  5. If you believe that information in your file resulted from identity theft, you have the right to ask that a consumer reporting agency block that information from your file. You must identify the information you would like the consumer reporting agency to block, and provide the agency with proof of your identity and a copy of your identity theft report.

  6. You may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe that the information is a result of identity theft. You will need to identify in writing, what information you do not want reported. The business also will expect you to provide it with an identity theft report.

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