Are You a Victim of Identity Theft?
Have you had something like this happen?
- You get a phone call or letter telling you that you have been approved or denied credit for accounts that you never requested.
- You no longer receive your credit card statements, or you notice that some of your mail seems to be missing.
- Your credit card statement includes charges for things you know you never bought.
- A collection agency tells you they are collecting for an account you never opened.
If you notice anything like this, it’s possible you’ve become a victim of identity theft.
IF I KNOW:
Your name, address and telephone number
Your mother’s maiden name
Your Social Security Number
Then, I CAN BECOME YOU.
Identity theft is when someone unlawfully uses your personal information to commit fraud or steal property, money, services or anything else of value.
Steps you can take to protect yourself from Identity Theft
In addition to the steps listed below, everyone should stop all bank offers for new credit cards from being mailed to you. The nation’s major credit bureaus have established a service you can call to stop all future offers. You can contact them at 888.567.8688.
Identity thieves also use e-mail as a means of contacting you. This technique is called “phishing”. They send out e-mail solicitations which appear to be legitimate, and include links you can click on to take you to their “home page”. The links will appear to take you to well known companies, but they are not valid sites. They use the link to take you to their own site, where they collect information you type in when placing orders, and they use that information to capture your credit card data. If you receive an e-mail about a product you are interested in, open a web browser and locate the companies web site yourself, do not click on the links provided in the e-mail. Click here to view a list of known phishing scams. You can also view the FTC’s information on avoiding becoming a victim of phishing scams.
1.Periodically check your Credit Report. Call immediately if you discover any irregularities.
2.Purchase a shredder, and shred all personal information before throwing it away.
3.Be careful when using ATM’s and Phone Cards, particularly in public places like airports, bus stations, etc. of people looking over your shoulder to obtain your PIN.
4.Cancel all credit cards that you no longer use.
5.Do not carry credit cards that you do not normally use in your purse or wallet. Do not carry your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport.
6.Never give anyone your credit card number or personal information over the telephone unless you initiated the call.
7.Do not print your Social Security Number, telephone number, or other unnecessary information on checks.
8.Carefully check your credit card and bank statements for charges you did not make.
9.Use an unlisted telephone number, or use an initial instead of your full first name.
10.If you live in a state that uses your Social Security Number as a driver’s license number, request a state assigned number through your Department of Motor Vehicles.
11.Passwords and PIN’s: Use non-consecutive numbers other than your date of birth or the last four of your Social Security Number.
If you have recently been the victim of identity theft, the following tips are offered to assist you in resolving any problems associated with this crime. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of businesses and organizations that you might find useful are also listed.
If you fall prey to such crime, immediately contact the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus (see below) and all creditors with whom your name has been used fraudulently. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the incident at (877) 438-4338. The FTC maintains an informative site here.
If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the seven check verification companies (see below), stop payment on outstanding checks through your bank, cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account (not your mother’s maiden name).
Write a form letter that can be mailed or faxed whenever you receive an inquiry about fraudulent checks written from your bank account. The letter should give a brief description of what happened, check numbers and check manufacturer (obtained from your bank), bank account number, case number (assigned by the police or law enforcement agency with jurisdiction), the name of the detective handling your case, and the name and phone number of the customer service representative at your bank. Keep a log of all conversations with financial and law enforcement agencies.
If your ATM card has been stolen or compromised, get a new card, account number and password.
If someone has submitted a fraudulent change-of-address to the post office to illegally receive credit cards in your name, notify your Postal Inspector, find out where the fraudulent cards were sent, and tell the Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to talk to the mail carrier.
If someone else obtains your Social Security number, call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at (800) 269-0271. As a last resort, the SSA may allow you to change your number. If you have a passport, notify the passport office in writing to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport using your Social Security number.
If your long distance calling card has been stolen, or you find fraudulent charges on your bill, cancel the account immediately and open a new one . Provide a password that must be used any time the account is changed.
If your driver’s license number is being misused – to write bad checks, for example – contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if another license has been issued in your name. If so, put a fraud alert on your license and request a new number immediately.
Think You’re Already a Victim?
CREDIT REPORTING BUREAUS:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To order credit report: (800) 685-1111
To opt out of marketing lists: (888) 567-8688
To report fraud: (800) 525-6285
P. O. Box 390
Springfield, PA l9064-0390
To order credit report: (800) 888-4213
To opt out of marketing lists: (888) 567-8688
To report fraud: (800) 680-7289
P. O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
To order credit report: (888) 397-3742
To opt out of marketing lists: (800) 353-0809
To report fraud: (800) 301-7195 or (888) 397-3742
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
CHECK VERIFICATION COMPANIES:
CheckRite – (800) 766-2748
ChexSystems – (800) 428-9623
Equifax – (800) 437-5120
National Processing Co. – (800) 526-5380
Scan – (800) 262-7771
TeleCheck – (800) 710-9898
CrossCheck – (800) 552-1900
CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE