With the permission of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, we offer you the following information and tips on Identity Theft.
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.
Action Steps For Identity Theft Victims:
- Contact all creditors, by phone and in writing, to inform them of the problem.
- Call your nearest U.S. Postal Inspection Service office and your local police.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the problem.
- Call each of the three credit bureaus' fraud units to report identity theft. Ask to have a "Fraud Alert/Victim Impact" statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts.
- Alert your banks to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity. Request a change of PIN and a new password.
- Keep a log of all your contacts and make copies of all documents. You may also wish to contact a privacy or consumer advocacy group regarding illegal activity.
- Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline.
- Contact the state office of the Department of Motor Vehicles 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.
Here is specific contact information to aid you If you believe you may be a victim of identity theft:
Internet and On-Line Services
Use caution when disclosing checking account numbers, credit card numbers or other personal financial data at any Web site 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!
Who To Contact For Copies Of Your Credit Report:
Atlanta, GA 30348-5873
Experian Information Solutions (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013-0949
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
Identity Theft Preventative Actions
- Review your consumer credit reports annually.
- Shred and destroy unwanted documents that contain personal information.
- Deposit mail in U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.
- Don't leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends.
- Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- If you applied for a credit card and didn't receive it when expected, call the financial institution.
- Sign new credit cards immediately--before someone else does.
- Memorize your Social Security number and passwords. Don't use your date of birth as your password and don't record passwords on papers you carry with you.
- Never leave transaction receipts at ATM machines, on counters at financial institutions, or at gasoline pumps.
- Don't carry your Social Security card or birth certificate--leave them in a secure location.
- Don't disclose credit card or other financial account numbers on a Web site unless the site offers a secure transaction.
- Closely monitor the expiration dates on your credit cards and contact the issuer if you don't receive a replacement prior to the expiration date.
- Beware of mail or telephone solicitations that offer prizes or awards--especially if the offeror asks you for personal information or financial account numbers.
- Match your credit card receipts against your monthly bills and check your monthly financial statements for accuracy.
- Watch for your monthly financial statements and bills. If you don't get them when expected, contact the sender.