Identity Theft Tips
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission. Examples of personal information used to commit fraud or other crimes are your Social Security number, your name, address and credit card information.
Thieves get the personal information many ways including:
- Dumpster Diving - the thief will go through the trash looking for a bill or other paper with personal information on it.
- Skimming - the person steals credit or debit number by using a special storage device when processing the card.
- Phishing - a person will send spam or popup messages to get someone to give out personal information.
- Changing Your Address - the thief will complete a change of address form which will send billing statements in your name to a different address.
- Stealing - the thief steals wallets and purses, mail including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees that have access.
- Pretexting - the thief uses false pretenses and lies to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies and other sources.
How can a person find out their identity was stolen?
The best way to find out is to look at your accounts and bank statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. A person may also find out when bill collection agencies contact that person over debts that this person never incurred.
What a person should do if they are a victim of identity theft?
- Place a fraud alerts on your credit reports, and review your credit reports. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
Equifax: www.equifax.com P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 33037
Experian: 1-888-experian (397-3742); www.experian.com P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75031
Once you put a fraud alert on your credit report, request a copy of your credit report
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with fraudulently. Call the company and speak with someone in the fraud department. Follow up in writing, and include copies (not originals) of supporting documents. Keep a file of your correspondence.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. A person can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form, or call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4438), or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Tell the police department that you want to file a report about identity theft and include copies of this report in your correspondence with companies and credit reporting agencies.
For more information on identity theft please visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft.