Skip to content

Other ways to search: Events Calendar | UTHSC News

Identity Theft

What to do if your wallet or purse is stolen

An identity thief can use information found in your wallet or purse — from credit cards, checks, your Social Security card, even health insurance cards — to establish new accounts in your name. If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, the Federal Trade Commission suggests that you:

  • File a report with the police immediately. Get a copy in case your bank, credit card company or insurance company needs proof of the crime.
  • Cancel each credit and charge card. Get new cards with new account numbers. Call the fraud departments of the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax (800) 525-6285; Experian (888) 397-3742; TransUnion (800) 680-7289; ask them to put a "fraud alert" on your account and add a "victim's statement" to your file requesting that creditors contact you before opening new accounts in your name.
  • Ask the credit bureaus for copies of your credit reports. Review your reports carefully to make sure no fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure no fraudulent activity has occurred.
  • Report the loss to your bank if your wallet or purse contained bank account information, including account numbers, ATM cards or checks. Cancel checking and savings accounts and open new ones. Stop payments on outstanding checks.
  • Get a new ATM card, account number and Personal Identification Number (PIN) or password.
  • Report your missing driver's license to the department of motor vehicles.
  • Change the locks on your home and car if your keys were taken. Don't give an identity thief access to even more personal property and information.

Ways that an "Identity Thief" works

  • They open a new credit card account using your name, date of birth, and/or Social Security number.
  • When they use the credit card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there is a problem.
  • They establish cellular phone service in your name.
  • They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.

Minimize Your Risk

  • One of the most efficient ways to catch identity theft is to regularly check your credit report. Order your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year and make sure all the information is correct.
  • Follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his/her tracks.
  • Before revealing personal identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information: can you choose to have it kept confidential?
  • Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
  • Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry. If your I.D. or credit cards are lost or stolen, notify the creditors by phone immediately, and call the credit bureaus to ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file.
  • Keep items containing personal information in a safe place; tear them up when you don't need them anymore. Make sure charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, bank checks and statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail are disposed of appropriately.

Make copies of your credit cards

Photocopy all of your credit cards front and back.

Report the crime to the police

File a report with your local police. Keep a copy in case your creditors
need proof of the crime.

Understand the Process

Understand what is expected from you and what is expected of the creditor. At the end of the investigation, ask the creditor for a document that states you were not responsible for the debt.

Follow Up

Make sure everything a creditor/credit bureau has requested is received. It is always a good idea to place a follow up call or send a letter for confirmation.

Review Reports Regularly

Obtain another report several months AFTER you believe everything is cleared up. It would be a good idea to check your credit report again in six months and then again a year later.

Inform the Creditor(s)

Make notes of everyone you speak with, ask for names, phone numbers and department names; record the date you spoke to them.

Get copies of your Credit Report

While you're on the phone with your credit bureau, ask them to supply you with copies of your credit reports. Credit bureaus are entitled to give you a free report if you are a victim of fraud. Review your reports to ensure no additional accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes are made to your account.


What should I do if someone is using my Social Security Number?

  • You should report this information to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
  • The SSA may issue you a new SSN at your request if you continue to experience problems. However, a new SSN may not resolve your identity theft problems, and may actually create new ones. For example, a new SSN does not necessarily ensure a new credit record because bureaus may combine the credit records from your old SSN with those from your new SSN. And, the absence of your credit history under your new SSN may make it difficult for you to get credit.
  • If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.
  • If you suspect that your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license, report it to your Department of Motor Vehicles.

ChoicePoint's Commitment to the Responsible Use of Information

Much of ChoicePoint's work involves the handling of sensitive or confidential information. We recognize the responsibility we have to the people whose lives are touched by the intelligence we generate as much as the responsibility we have to our customers, who rely on us for accurate and complete information. We have made the information below available for consumers as a way of increasing awareness and prevention of identity theft. Most of the information is taken from the Federal Trade Commission. You can also find more information at the Identity Theft section of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's web site. Identity theft is a crime. It occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception. Use our Identity Theft Kit to report a stolen identity, or read up on ways to protect your personal information.

May 26, 2022