Identity Theft and Privacy Protection

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The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is Wisconsin's primary consumer protection agency. Its Bureau of Consumer Protection educates consumers on best practices to combat and avoid scams, fraud, and unfair business practices. DATCP educates Wisconsin consumers and businesses on how to protect their identities and helps victims of identity theft with recovery and credit restoration.​

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Identity theft continues to be the fastest growing crime in the country, with millions of people in the U.S. becoming victims each year. Criminals need very little personal identifying information to damage a person’s financial reputatio​n. Identity theft can be very costly, and it can take several years to fully recover.

As technology and online commerce become more popular, and more private ​information and finances are stored electronically, it is easier for criminals to steal people's identities and commit fraud. The DATCP Bureau of Consumer Protection is focused on educating consumers to monitor and safeguard their personal information, keeping it safe from identity thieves.

Businesses may also fall victim to identity theft. Impostors can obtain services, grants, loans, and benefits by posing as a business. Business identity theft can also compromise the data security of their customers, clients, and vendors, costing the business money and damaging their reputation.

DATCP's Bureau of Consumer Protection provides education to Wisconsin consumers, businesses, and law enforcement agencies to help prevent identity theft and fraud. The Bureau works with victims of identity theft to help them take steps to reclaim their identity and restore their credit standing.

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Steps to Protect an Identity Theft Victim

​Victims of identity theft should immediately take the following steps to protect themselves.

​1. Close accounts with fraudulent activity or fraudulently opened accounts.

  • Contact the issuer's security or fraud department for next steps. If mailing documents, do not send originals. Send them by certified mail with return receipts requested.
  • Set up new passwords and PINs for any new or existing accounts. These should not ​contain information like Social Security numbers, your mother's maiden name, or other personal details, which could increase the risk of further identity theft.

2. File a report with your local police department or the police department in the community where the identity theft occurred.

  • ​Law enforcement may direct you to file in person, over the phone, or online.
  • Request a copy of the police report for your own records.​​

3. Place credit freezes and fraud alerts on your credit reports, and review your credit reports regularly.

  • Credit freezes can prevent criminals from accessing your credit report.
    • ​You need to contact all three credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and ask them to put a credit freeze in place. Contact information for each credit bureau can be found in Resources.
    • There is no fee for freezing or unfreezing credit reports.
    • Once a credit freeze is in place, you will usually need to unfreeze it to obtain credit or a loan - but only with the bureau being used to verify your credit. Credit cannot be obtained if a credit freeze is in place.
    • A credit freeze is more restrictive than a fraud alert.
  • Fraud alerts can prevent an identity thief from opening accounts in your name by requiring validation of personal information.​
    • Credit reports can be accessed after the personal information is verified.
    • It is important to keep this personal information confidential. If a criminal had it, they could use it to unlock the credit report.
    • You only need to contact one of the three credit bureaus to place an alert. That bureau will inform the other two to implement the alert as well.
  • To review your credit, obtain your credit report.
    • You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus.
    • Once you receive your credit report(s), review them for accounts you did not open and debts you cannot explain.
    • Verify your information, such as Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employer(s), is all correct.
    • If you discover fraudulent or inaccurate information, ask to have it removed.
    • Continue to check your credit reports periodically to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

4. File a complaint with the DATCP Bureau of Consumer Protection.

  • File a general consumer complaint when:
    • Your social media account is compromised
    • You are targeted by scams or fraud
  • File an identity theft complaint when:
    • ​You suffered a financial loss through the fraudulent opening or use of your financial accounts
    • You are the victim of tax-related identity theft
    • Fraudulent grants or loans are assigned in your name
  • To file an identity theft complaint, file online or mail it to DATCP​:
    • File a complaint on​line.
      • ​Fill out the form in its entirety. An incomplete complaint form will make it difficult to investigate or refer your complaint.
      • Upload copies of any documentation that supports your complaint.
      • Note: You will need to have the Non-Consent Form notarized.
    • Download DATCP's Identity Theft Complaint Packet and mail your complaint, with supporting documentation, to DATCP at:
      • DATCP Bureau of Consumer Protection
        PO Box 8911
        Madison, WI 53708-8911
    • Please be aware that, while your complaint is available for review upon request under Wisconsin's Open Records law, the Department will maintain the confidentiality of your personally identifiable information to the fullest extent permitted by law.
  • What happens to your complaint?
    • Once your complaint is received, a Consumer Protection Investigator will evaluate the information to determine an appropriate course of action. The investigator will follow up with you within one week of receiving your complaint.
    • Self-help information will be sent to you to help you get started on the path to recovering your identity.
    • If DATCP believes an identity thief or business may have violated state laws, the Department may reach out to local law enforcement officials. If your complaint is part of a larger identity theft or identity fraud investigation, your complaint will be shared with the appropriate local, state, and federal authorities.

Identity Theft Tips and Information

​​​DATCP provides consumer tips and information on numerous topics that you can browse, download, and share for free. Find our selection of identity theft and scam/fraud topics below.

Identity Theft

Scams & Fraud

Businesses and law enforcement agencies must also deal with the prevention, and sometimes consequences, of identity theft. DATCP's tips and information for these organizations can be found below.

Tips for Businesses

​Tips for Law Enforcement​

Data Breaches

A data breach occurs when an organization's private data is accessed by an unauthorized party. This could expose sensitive data like customer names and addresses, Social Security numbers, confidential records, and more. Unfortunately, it puts affected individuals at risk of identity theft.

DATCP maintains an archive of bre​aches reported to the Department or which the Bureau of Consumer Protection has independently identified as affecting Wisconsin consumers. If your information was leaked in a data breach, you may consider credit monitoring or other measures to reduce your risk of identity theft. Some of these services may be offered for free by organizations affected by a data breach.

Privacy Laws​

There are many laws that govern and regulate consumers' privacy rights on the state, federal, and even international level. A non-comprehensive list is below.



Other agencies and organizations can also assist you in preventing or recovering from identity theft.​

DATCP Bureau of Consumer Protection​​

  • Web:
  • Phone: (800) 422-7128
  • Email:
  • Fax: (608) 224-4677
  • Write:
    • ​DATCP Bureau of Consumer Protection
      P.O. Box 8911
      Madison, WI 53708-8911

Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC)

​If someone has fraudulently obtained utility service in your name, contact the utility that opened the account and dispute the debt by notifying their fraud department. If the utility is unwilling to assist you, notify the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

  • PSC of WI
    PO Box 7854
    Madison, WI 53707-7854
  • Phone: (800) 225-7729
  • Website:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT)

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  • Web:
  • Phone: (888) OUR-AARP (888-687-2277)
  • Write:
    • AARP
      601 E. Street NW
      Washington, DC 20049

Better Business Bureau

  • Web:
  • Phone: (703) 276-0100
  • Write:
    • 3033 Wilson Blvd
      Suite 600
      Arlington, VA 22201

Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Federal Communication Commission (FCC)

  • To report cellular telephone / telecommunication fraud contact the company directly first. You may also contact the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC or online at
  • Web:
  • Phone: (888) 225-5322
  • Write:
    • FCC
      445 12th Street SW
      Washington, DC 20554

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

  • Web: https://www.hhs.g​ov/hipaa/index.html
  • Phone: (800) 368-1019
  • Write:
    • Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
      200 Independence Ave SW
      Room 509F, HHH Building
      Washington, DC 20201

Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

  • Tax identity theft can be reported by downloading Form #14039 at
  • Web:
  • Mail:
    • Internal Revenue Service
      PO Box 9039
      Andover, MA 01810-0939
  • Fax: (855) 807-5720

National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)

  • NCSA builds strong public/private partnerships to create and implement broad reaching education and awareness efforts to empower users at home, work and school with the information they need to keep themselves, their organizations, their systems, and their sensitive information safe and secure online and encourage a culture of cybersecurity.
  • Web:

OnGuard Online

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC)

Social Security Administration (SSA)

  • Web:
  • Request a statement of earnings:
  • Phone: (800) 772-1213
  • Write:
    • Social Security Administration
      Office of Public Inquiries and Communications Support
      1100 West High Rise
      6401 Security Blvd.
      Baltimore, MD 21235

  •, the government's official Web portal, offers information on a wide range of topics including how to get a passport or how to renew your driver's license.
  • maintains a blog and has social media accounts on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Links to these resources are found on their website homepage.

U.S. Dept. of Justice

​U.S. Postal Inspection Service