Take these steps as soon as possible after you suspect your identity has been stolen and the clean-up afterward will be simpler.

Step 1: Freeze Your Credit Report

Request a copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies www.annualcreditreport.com (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). If you are viewing the report online, the simplest way to initiate a dispute is to click on the fraudulent item. The website will walk you through what steps to take in order to place a security freeze on your report. The freeze ensures that no one will be able to obtain new credit using your identity, protecting you from further fraud.

STEP 2: Contact Your Bank

Contact your bank to let them know you've become a victim of fraud. If you think your credit card was stolen as well, and the bank is not the card issuer, contact the issuer in addition to your bank. This step is easier if you have prepared and made a list of institutions to contact and their phone numbers. Don't include account numbers on this list, as that would be one more way for a thief to steal your identity. Do keep a list of what's in your wallet, so if it's stolen you know exactly who to contact.

STEP 3: File a Police Report

Contact your local police department and report the theft. Obtain a copy of the police report or the report number for future reference.

STEP 4: Contact the FTC

Use the police report to file an Identity Theft Affidavit and create an Identity Theft Report with the FTC online or by calling 877-438-4338. The completed FTC Identity Theft Report will help you when you work with the credit reporting agencies or other companies where the thief has used your identity to open accounts

STEP 5: Protect Your Social Security Number

If you suspect your social security number may have been compromised, contact the Social Security Administration (800-269-0271) and the IRS (800-829-0433). This step is important if you think your SSN has been stolen, even if you haven't seen any fraudulent activity yet. The thief may be planning to wait until April and then steal your tax refund, or may seek employment under your name.

What To Do If Your Identity is Stolen

View a comprehensive list of next steps from the Federal Trade Commission.