What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone’s identifying information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number and mother’s maiden name, in order to impersonate them. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud which include, but are not limited to, taking over the victim’s financial accounts, opening new bank accounts, purchasing automobiles, applying for loans, credit cards and social security benefits, renting apartments, and establishing services with utility and phone companies.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery.
- Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection mailboxes or at your local post office. Do not leave in unsecured mail receptacles.
- Never give personal information over the telephone, such as your social security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, credit card number, or bank PIN code, unless you initiated the phone call. Protect this information and release it only when absolutely necessary.
- Invest in a paper shredder and shred pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills and other financial information you don’t want before discarding them in the trash or recycling bin.
- Empty your wallet of extra credit cards and Ids, or better yet, cancel the ones you don’t use and maintain a list of the ones you do.
- Order your credit report from the three credit bureaus once a year to check for fraudulent activity or other discrepancies.
- Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles, or unattended gas pumps. Keep track of all your paperwork. When you no longer need it, destroy it.
Memorize your social security number and all of your passwords. Do not record them on any cards or on anything in your wallet or purse.
Sign all new credit cards upon receipt.
- Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bills.
- Be conscious of normal receipt of routine financial statements. Contact the sender if they are not received in the mail.
- Notify your credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any change of address or phone number.
- Never loan your credit cards to anyone else.
- Never put your credit card or other financial account number on a postcard or on the outside of an envelope.
- If you applied for a new credit card and it hasn’t arrived in timely manner, call the bank or credit card company involved.
- Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- Closely monitor expiration dates on your credit cards. Contact the credit card issuer if replacement cards are not received prior to the expiration dates.
- Beware of mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions offering instant prizes or award designed solely to obtain your personal information or credit card numbers.
Internet & On-Line Services
- Use caution when disclosing checking account numbers, credit card numbers or other personal financial data at any website or on-line service location unless you receive a secured authentication key from your provider.
- When you subscribe to an on-line service, you may be asked to give credit card information. When you enter any interactive service site, beware of con artists who may ask you to “confirm” your enrollment service by disclosing passwords or the credit card account number used to subscribe. Don’t give them out!
What to do if it happens to you.
Report the crime to the Police Department
Report the crime to the credit reporting companies by phone and follow up all calls in writing. Ask to have a “Fraud Alert/Victim Impact” statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts.
To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
To order your report: 1-800-658-1111
To report fraud: 1-888-397-3742
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
To order your report: 1-888-397-3742
To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
To order your report: 1-800-888-4213
Contact all creditors to inform them of the problem, by phone and in writing.
Alert your banks to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity.
Request a new PIN and password.
Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the problem. The FTC is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. The FTC helps victims by providing information to help resolve financial and other problems that could result from identity theft. Contact them online: www.ftc.gov or by phone: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
Notify the U.S. Postal Inspection Service if your mail has been stolen, tampered with or a false address has been used. Newark office: 1-973-596-5450. www.usps.gov/postalinspectors.
Contact the Department of Motor Vehicle Services to see if another license was issued in your name. If so, request a new license number and fill out the DMV’s complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process.If you have any checks stolen or fraudulent bank accounts set up, report it to the following companies:
National Check Fraud Service 843-571-2143
Equifax Check Systems 800-437-5120
International Check Services 800-526-5380
If your social security number has been used fraudulently, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-771-1213.
Keep a log of all contacts and make copies of all documents.
Federal Trade Commission
Privacy Rights Clearing House
U.S. Government Accounting Office
U.S. Postal Inspectors