ID Theft Resources

Reporting Identity Theft to Police: Steps to Take and Things to Know

By Steve Symanovich, a Symantec employee

If someone steals your identity, you’ll probably want to know how to report identity theft to police. The good news: You can find that information here.

But here’s something else you should know: In most cases, you don’t need to report identity theft to the police. That’s according to the Federal Trade Commission. Instead, you can report the crime on the FTC website IdentityTheft.gov.

This article can help guide you in filing a police report when you need to. Here’s what you’ll learn.

  • When to report identity theft to the police
  • How filing a police report helps you
  • Steps to take when reporting ID theft to the police
  • Tips for filing a police report

When to report identity theft to police

The FTC says it’s important to report identity theft to the police in these three cases:

  1. You know the identity thief or you have other information that could aid a police investigation.
  2. An identity thief used your name in an encounter with the police. For instance, this might involve a traffic stop.
  3. A creditor, debt collector, or other affected party insists you produce a police report.

In most other cases, you can report identity theft to IdentityTheft.gov. The FTC set up the website as a one-stop shop for reporting many types of identity theft. It also helps you to set up a recovery plan.

How filing a report helps protect you

Why is it important to report identity theft? If you are a victim of identity theft, it means someone has taken your personal information and used it to commit fraud in your name.

Here’s how filing a report helps:

  • It acts as a declaration of your innocence.
  • It helps start the investigation.

A police report serves as sworn statement that you were not responsible for any crimes the thief committed using your name. If someone accuses you of a crime committed in your name, you can show them your sworn statement.

Filing an “Identity Theft Report” at IdentityTheft.gov serves a similar function, in most cases. It’s an official statement about the crime.

Important to note: The FTC recommends filing an Identity Theft Report first, and including it when you file a police report.

Keep in mind, with either report, you’re legally obligated to tell the truth to the best of your knowledge. If you don’t, you could face criminal penalties.

Steps to take when reporting ID theft to the police

If you decide you want to report identity theft to the police, here are steps you can take.

  1. Go to your local police office, as well as to the police office where the fraud took place, with this information:
  • A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report
  • A government-issued photo ID
  • Proof of your address, such as a mortgage statement or utilities bill
  • Any proof you have of the theft, such as credit card statements, IRS notices or collection notices
  1. Tell the police someone has stolen your identity and you want to file a report. Ask them attach your FTC complaint to the report.
  2. Ask for a copy of your police report. You will need it to give copies to creditors and credit bureaus as you take other steps to recover from identity theft.

Tips when filing a police report

With luck, filing a police report will go smoothly. You can then concentrate on taking steps to recover from identity theft.

But some police departments may not be fully prepared to take your report. For instance, officers may be preoccupied with other crimes or unfamiliar with how to handle identity theft cases.

Here are some tips that can help.

  • Be firm, but calm when seeking to file a police report.
  • Try to remain flexible. The police may send you to a website to fill out a form, instead of taking your information in person.
  • Contact your state attorney general’s office if the police are unable or unwilling to take your report. States may have different processes for filing a report. An attorney general’s office or website may be able to provide the details.
  • Be specific. When you make a police report, give detailed information about the identity theft, such as dates accounts were opened in your name or who might have committed the fraud.
  • Make copies of your identity theft police report and your FTC complaint. You’ll need these to resolve any disputes with companies where the identity thief used your name.

Bottom line: Reporting identity theft to the police or the FTC is a smart step to take. It could save time and money as you recover from identity theft.

Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, allows organizations, governments, and people to secure their most important data wherever it lives. More than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock comprehensive digital safety platform to help protect their personal information, devices, home networks, and identities.

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