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What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your identity to commit fraud.

When someone steals your identity to commit fraud it can mean using personal information without your permission, such as:

  • Your name
  • Social Security or Medicare number
  • Credit card number

Identity thieves may rent apartments, get credit cards, receive government benefits or tax refunds, or open other accounts in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice accounts you didn’t open or charges you didn’t make, or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, visit , the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. allows you to report identity theft, while also receiving an Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan that walks you through the steps to take. For example, you can contact the nationwide credit reporting companies for help with placing fraud alerts or security freezes and blocking or removing fraudulent debts.

Still having trouble with credit reporting?

Companies can usually answer questions unique to your situation and more specific to the products and services they offer. We can also help you connect with the company if you have a complaint. Tell us about your issue—we’ll work to get you a response from the company. Most companies respond within 15 days.

Learn how the complaint process works