The Federal Trade Commission has done a very thorough job of outlining the identity theft recovery process at IdentityTheft.gov, so we recommend you start there. Here's what to expect when you visit the site:
You’ll first report the theft by going through a simple, step-by-step questionnaire asking you for details about the fraud, including anything you've already done to remedy it. You will also be asked for your information and any information you might have about the suspect. At the end of the report, you can choose to give a personal statement if you like. You'll be asked to review and sign the report before submitting it.
Based on your responses, the FTC will create a personalized, step-by-step recovery plan for you to follow, which includes instructions to close or freeze accounts that have been affected by fraudulent activity, freeze or place a fraud alert on your credit report, and file reports with local law enforcement agencies.
Because there are different types of identity theft, following your personalized plan will cut out any unnecessary steps. For example, you wouldn't necessarily have to call all your utility companies if you're experiencing Medicare fraud. The plan walks you through each step customized to your situation to make the process as painless as possible.
As you work through your recovery plan, the FTC will update your file and help you track your progress. You can use the FTC-provided pre-filled forms and sample letters to reach out to credit bureaus and ensure you're covering all your bases. Using the FTC recovery plan will also help you stay organized and keep that all-important paper trail.