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Identity Theft

 


 

There are many ways that identity thieves can steal your identity. We all place personal information on many documents in our day-to-day lives, such as writing checks, applying for credit or credit cards, filling out tax forms, completing applications for services. Many of us keep our personal information on our computers, and without proper safeguards this information can be accessed by outsiders. 

While we can't completely prevent identity theft, we can take steps to quickly identify when our information has been stolen so we may report the theft to law enforcement.


The U.S. government offers identity theft information through their website at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft

Identity Theft Prevention and Survival website at http://www.identitytheft.org/index.htm that offers information and tips. 

 

There is also an Identity Theft Prevention and Survival website at http://www.identitytheft.org/index.htm that offers information and tips.



Tips on prevention:

  1. Send outgoing bills and other sensitive mail through the post office. If you have a mailbox that is not easily visible from your residence, think about getting a post office box, or a locked mailbox. Check your mailbox as soon after mail delivery as possible. Talk to your neighbors and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Call 9-1-1 if you see someone suspicious going through mailboxes and give a description of the person(s) and vehicle, especially the license plate number. Have your new checkbooks sent to your bank where you can pick them up in person.

  2. Keep all sensitive information, check books, and credit cards and account information in a safe, hidden, locked location (not a dresser drawer), preferably a safe, lock box, or safe deposit box at a bank. Do not lend your credit cards or checkbook to anyone not authorized to make purchases, do not give anyone your PIN number. Do not keep your PIN number for your ATM cards in your wallet or any other easily accessible area. Always keep your wallet or purse in a safe and secure place. Do not leave them or other items unsecured in your vehicle, work area, or shopping cart.

  3. Be leery of giving any personal information to anyone over the telephone or internet. Photocopy your important documents front and back, like your drivers license, credit cards, ATM cards, and social security card, especially the items kept in your wallet or purse. Keep the copy in a secure place. This will help you remember what was in your wallet or purse if it is stolen. The copies should also have the numbers should you need to call to report them as stolen.

What Should I Do If I become
A Victim Of Identity Theft?

If you think you've become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation.



Here's a list of some actions
that you should take right away:


Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the situation.

  • By telephone toll-free at 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338) or TDD at 202-326-2502

  • By mail to Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580

Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who believe they may be victims of identity theft, providing informational materials to those people, and referring those complaints to appropriate entities, including the major credit reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies. For further information, please check the FTC's identity theft Web pages. You can also call your local office of the FBI to report crimes relating to identity theft and fraud.



You may also need to contact other agencies
for other types of identity theft:

Your local office of the Postal Inspection if you suspect that an identity thief has submitted a change-of-address form with the Post Office to redirect your mail, or has used the mail to commit frauds involving your identity.

The Social Security Administration if you suspect that your Social Security number is being fraudulently used (call 800-269-0271 to report the fraud).

The Internal Revenue Service if you suspect the improper use of identification information in connection with tax violations (call 1-800-829-0433 to report the violations).



Call the fraud units of the
three principal credit reporting companies:


Equifax:

  • To report fraud, call (800) 525-6285 or write to P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374-0250.

  • To order a copy of your credit report ($8 in most states), write to P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241, or call (800) 685-1111.

  • To dispute information in your report, call the phone number provided on your credit report.

  • To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit, call (888) 567-8688 or write to Equifax Options, P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta GA 30374-0123

Experian (formerly TRW)

  • To report fraud, call (888) EXPERIAN or (888) 397-3742, fax to (800) 301-7196, or write to P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013.

  • To order a copy of your credit report ($8 in most states): P.O. Box 2104, Allen TX 75013, or call (888) EXPERIAN.

  • To dispute information in your report, call the phone number provided on your credit report. To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists, call (800) 353-0809 or (888) 5OPTOUT or write to P.O. Box 919, Allen, TX 75013.

Trans Union

  • To report fraud, call (800) 680-7289 or write to P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634.

  • To order a copy of your credit report ($8 in most states), write to P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064 or call: (800) 888-4213.

  • To dispute information in your report, call the phone number provided on your credit report.

  • To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit and marketing lists, call (800) 680-7293 or (888) 5OPTOUT or write to P.O Box 97328, Jackson, MS 39238.



Call all creditors

Contact all creditors with whom your name or identifying data have been fraudulently used. For example, you may need to contact your long-distance telephone company if your long-distance calling card has been stolen or you find fraudulent charges on your bill.

Contact all financial institutions where you have accounts that an identity thief has taken over or that have been created in your name but without your knowledge. You may need to cancel those accounts, place stop-payment orders on any outstanding checks that may not have cleared, and change your Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card, account, and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Contact the major check verification companies (listed in the CalPIRG-Privacy Rights Clearinghouse checklist) if you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up by an identity thief. In particular, if you know that a particular merchant has received a check stolen from you, contact the verification company that the merchant uses:

  • CheckRite -- (800) 766-2748

  • ChexSystems -- (800) 428-9623 (closed checking accounts)

  • CrossCheck -- (800) 552-1900

  • Equifax -- (800) 437-5120

  • National Processing Co. (NPC) -- (800) 526-5380

  • SCAN -- (800) 262-7771

  • TeleCheck -- (800) 710-9898


 




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