Do you need to file a police report for identity theft?

Discovering that your personally identifiable information (PII) might be compromised can cause a rush of emotions. You’ll likely feel anxious, regretful, and angry. 

Although it’s normal for fraud victims to get slightly hysterical, you shouldn’t let stress affect your decisions. Time-sensitive, faceless crimes like identity theft leave no room for error; otherwise, you’ll give criminals more chances to abuse your PII.

Despite the horror stories about identity fraud, you still have hope. You simply need to know which institutions and authorities to seek help from during these instances.

People generally turn to the police for various crimes. However, identity theft criminals operate worldwide, so your local law enforcement authority might not have jurisdiction over them.

We don’t want you wasting time on needless reports. To help you understand exactly what to do if your PII is stolen, our team reviewed various official government sources, news reports, and real victim stories discussing identity theft.

By the end of this piece, you’ll have a strategy to combat fraud. 

Please read without skipping. We’ll explain the most dangerous yet common misconception about the lasting effect of identity theft—which could permanently damage your finances.

Let’s find out whether you need to file a police report for identity theft!

Filing a police report for identity theft

Unlike other crimes, identity theft doesn’t always require your local law enforcement agency’s immediate support. The cops will even turn you away if you have insufficient evidence.

To  stop identity thieves effectively from abusing your PII, the FTC encourages doing the following before reporting identity theft to local police:

Call the institutions involved

The more PII a thief knows, the worse they can do. Unfortunately, you can only minimize the risks by coordinating with the institutions where criminals might misuse your PII for fraud.

For instance, if you lose your credit card, you’ll need to call your bank so that they can freeze your account. They’ll also watch out for loan applications under your name.

However, note that restricted PII like your social security number (SSN), driver’s license number, and health insurance details require more work to recover. In these instances, you’ll also have to contact the following:


Change your account passwords. Identity thieves misusing your PII might already have access to your social media profiles, banking apps, online investments, and card pins.

Coordinate with the credit bureaus

Lenders can’t hold identity theft victims accountable for fraud transactions. However, the debt incurred by these accounts and cards will still affect the victim’s credit score, which takes time to repair.

Many crooks will use your PII to open fraud accounts. And the best way to prevent them from taking out thousands of dollars in loans is to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Financial institutions can’t process applications involving fraud alerts. They must contact you if anyone attempts to transact using your compromised PII.

To place fraud alerts on your credit report, contact any of the three main credit bureaus, namely:

You only need to contact one of these bureaus. It will inform the other two about your fraud alert so that they can all alert their partner commercial institutions accordingly.

Initial fraud alerts typically last 90 days. However, the FTC allows victims to get a free extended fraud alert spanning one to seven years, depending on the gravity of their case.

If you qualify, you’ll get two free credit reports per annum. Ineligible candidates can request one free credit report every 12 months, although succeeding requests might cost around $14.

Send a report to the FTC

After freezing your accounts and limiting what identity thieves can do with your PII, you can finally file a report to the FTC. 

It will play a key role in your recovery from identity theft. Once you file a report, the institution will help you recover your stolen PII, minimize the risks of fraud, and mitigate potential damages.

You can call +1 (877) 438-4338. However, considering the number of reports the FTC receives daily, your case will proceed faster if you go through its online portal.

  1. Visit and click the Get Started button. 
  2. Answer a few basic multiple-choice questions regarding your situation.
  3. Next, browse and download your automated recovery plan.
  4. Lastly, create an account so that you’ll have 24/7 access to the FTC’s identity recovery resources.

Note: We suggest creating an account However, if you don’t want one, save and print your recovery plan; otherwise, you’ll have to file another report altogether. 

Consider filing a police report for identity theft

Once you’ve coordinated with the institutions involved in your identity theft case, you can consider pushing through with a police report.

Reach out to your local law enforcement agency. However, note that the precinct designated to handle your case will depend on your address versus the criminal’s location. 

To file a police report for identity theft, you’ll need to bring copies of your:

  • FTC identity theft report
  • FTC memo for law enforcement officers
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Identity theft case evidence
  • Proof of address

Make sure you secure a copy of your police report. You’ll find it helpful in turning away lenders asking you to pay off fraud accounts under your name.

Gradually repair the damage

Stay wary of new bank accounts, criminal records, credit lines, parking tickets, and court summons under your name. They might be the work of your identity thief.

We understand that the letters and emails might feel overwhelming, but rest assured, the law will protect your right as an identity theft victim. 

Again, no institution can hold you accountable for fraud transactions. Make multiple copies of your FTC and police reports so that you can send them to anyone demanding otherwise.

How the police help with identity theft

Before filing a police report for identity theft, familiarize yourself with your local law enforcement agency’s limitations. 

The FTC generally handles identity theft cases. Your local cops can only help if you have any clues about the perpetrator’s location or identity.

Otherwise, they’ll just redirect you to the FTC. Based on the stories we read, most unsuspecting fraud victims only got a pamphlet on identity theft when they turned to the police.

With that said, don’t focus on police reports unless you have hard evidence. Instead, routinely check your credit reports, bank statements, FTC account, and tax statements for signs of fraud.

Tips when filing a police report for identity theft

Reporting identity theft to the local police has its challenges. However, you can streamline the process and avoid wasting time if you:

  • File your FTC report before going to the police
  • Prepare all pieces of evidence hinting at the perpetrator’s whereabouts
  • Bring all the necessary paperwork with you
  • Ask the cops for any criminal records or violations involving your PII
  • File your identity theft police report online

Disclaimer: We want to clarify that we don’t discourage reporting identity theft to your local police. On the contrary, it would be great if the cops could help. We just wanted to manage your expectations; otherwise, you might end up disappointed if things don’t go the way you expected.

Deciding whether to file a police report for identity theft

Your local law enforcement agency has a duty to protect citizens, but it follows city limits. Identity theft investigation generally falls under the FTC’s responsibilities. 

The cops only have jurisdiction over local crimes. And considering that identity thieves typically attack remotely, your local police might not be able to help much.

However, there are some instances wherein you’d need the cops. For example, if you know the perpetrator’s location or identity, the cops can help you track them down. They can inspect the suspect’s supposed home address. 

Another case would be if you were recently mugged. File a police report for the attack, then coordinate with the authorities to catch the thief before they can abuse the PII in your phone, wallet, or bag.

Otherwise, only the FTC can help with your case. 

Don’t worry if the cops dismiss your report. Since the FTC is better equipped to handle these cases, you’ll need its help whether or not your local law enforcement agency cooperates.

The effects of identity theft on your credit score

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and United States Department of Justice (DOJ) emphasize the rights of identity theft victims. As a victim, you aren’t liable for the consequences of the thieves’ wrongdoings.

Let’s say a crook opens several credit cards under your name. After you’ve filed a report, collectors must stop calling because you don’t have to pay off the debts on fraudulent accounts.

The same rule applies to criminal records. Local authorities can’t detain or penalize you if an identity thief pretends to be you while under investigation.

In most cases, identity theft affects your credit score the worst. Depending on what the identity thief does, your credit score could tank by over 100 points.

If you take immediate action, the FTC states that you’ll resolve most issues within one to six months. However, we think this timeline is inaccurate and misleading.

Warning: Credit repair can take more than six months. We read stories about victims who failed to take immediate action—further compromising their PII. 

Because of their delays, they still struggle to find a place to rent, take out loans, apply for insurance, or land a job even after several years.

With that said, file a report when you notice signs of identity theft. 

Top identity theft protection services

Identity theft protection companies can help you monitor police records, bank statements, credit reports, and dark web listings for unauthorized transactions under your name. Some of the best service providers include:

It offers a one-stop-shop solution to credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Not only does it scan online and offline records for your PII, but it also provides various services like VPNs, antivirus software programs, and password managers. Its cheapest costs $12 a month and comes with $1 million worth of insurance.

It offers a one-stop-shop solution to credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Not only does it scan online and offline records for your PII, but it also provides various services like VPNs, antivirus software programs, and password managers. Its cheapest costs $12 a month and comes with $1 million worth of insurance.

It offers a one-stop-shop solution to credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Not only does it scan online and offline records for your PII, but it also provides various services like VPNs, antivirus software programs, and password managers. Its cheapest costs $12 a month and comes with $1 million worth of insurance.

Feel free to explore other options. Just make sure they have the experience and technology to provide the protection you need.

Taking action after an identity thief attacks you

You generally don’t need a police report for identity theft. As we mentioned above, cybercriminals can operate from anywhere in the world, so local law enforcement agencies have no authority over them.

Instead of going back and forth with the police, turn straight to the FTC. The agency will help you freeze your credit cards, put a fraud alert on your credit report, and dispute fraudulent information under your name.

You can also ask the FTC whether you need to file a police report. It will encourage you to do so if you have a lead on your identity thief (i.e., name, address, contact number).

Either way, swiftly act because you need to stop crooks in their tracks. Again, credit repair can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years, depending on what happens to your PII.

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