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Given that someone is a victim of identity theft, I'm wondering if fraud departments of companies where identity thefts occurred should still be considered totally trustworthy, as in send them what they ask without a second thought, or is there a reason to be cautious about what personal information is being sent to them (by mail) such as copies of driver's license, SSN card, etc? They're primary (and only) concern is their own company, not the victim, so I'm wondering how that skews how much a victim can trust them.

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I can't address the psychology of trust involved in your question, but here are some common sense guidelines for dealing with your issue.

  1. Make sure you know who you are talking to. Call the company you need to speak to via a publicly available phone number. An email or something you got in a letter might be from a different source. If you use a website, you should be sure you are on the correct website.

  2. Keep careful records. Make good notes of each phone call and keep all emails and letters forever. Note the time, name and/or ID of the person you spoke to and numbers called in addition to keeping notes on what actions should be done. Keep your faxing transmission receipts and shipping tracking numbers too.

  3. If you are nervous, ask them why they want the info. The fraud department should be able to explain it to you. For example, they probably want your social because that is how your credit report is identified. If they are going to fix a credit report, they will need a social. It is doubtful they would have a good explanation why they need your mother's maiden name.

  4. Ask for secure transmission, or confirm they have it. Postal mail isn't so secure, but I'll go out on a limb and say most fax machines today are not really fax machines, but software that deals in PDFs. At some point you will have to realize you will have to transmit something. No method is perfect, but you can limit your exposure.

  5. Help them do their jobs. If you are (understandably) nervous, consider their motivations: corporate profit. BUT that could very well mean not running afoul of the law and (with any luck) treating customers the best way they know to earn business. If you stymy the fraud department, how can they help you?

If the ID theft was serious enough, document your issue for future law enforcement so you getting pulled over for speeding doesn't result in you going to jail for whatever crime the other person did. Perhaps the fraud department you are dealing with can assist there.

Finally, while you work with fraud departments to clear up your name and account, work on the other end to limit future damage. Freeze your credit. See if you bank or credit card have monitoring. Use CreditKarma.com or a similar if you cannot find a free service. (Please don't ever pay for credit monitoring.)

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