Steps to Prevent Identity Theft
Do not give personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you are dealing with. Identity thieves will pose as bank representative, Internet service providers, and even government officials to get you to reveal identifying information.
Shred all documents, including pre-approved credit applications, insurance forms, bank checks andstatements you are discarding, and other financial information.
Do not use your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, or a similar series of numbers as a password for anything.
Minimize the identification information and number of cards you carry. Take only what you will actually need. Don't carry your social security card, birth certificate, or passport, unless necessary.
Do not put your social security number on your checks or credit receipts.
Do not put your telephone number or driver's license number on your checks.
Be careful using ATM's and phone cards. Someone may look over your shoulder and get your PIN numbers, thereby gaining access to your accounts.
Make a list or copies of your credit card account numbers with customer service phone numbers and keep it in a safe place.
When you order new credit cards in the mail or previous ones have expired, watch the calendar to make sure you get the card within the appropriate time. If not received within that time, call the grantor immediately to find out if the card has been sent.
Do not put your credit card number on the Internet unless it is encrypted on a secured site.
Pay attention to your billing cycle. Follow up with creditors if bills don't arrive on time. A missing creditcard bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address.
Cancel all credit cards that you have not used in the last six months. Open credit is a prime target.
Order your credit report at least once a year, preferably twice. Reports should be obtained from all three major sources: Equifax at 800-685-1111Experian at 888- EXPERIAN (397-3742)TransUnion at 800-680-7293
Correct all mistakes on your credit report in writing. Send the letters return receipt requested.
Write to Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Services, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735 to get your name off direct mail lists.
Immediate steps to take if you're a victim of identity theft
Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and report that your identity has been stolen. Ask that a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the security departments of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions. Close these accounts. Put passwords (not your mother's maiden name) on any new accounts you open.
Report identity theft to the police agency where you live. Get the case number at the time of report and obtain a copy of the police report when available. The bank, credit card company, or others may need proof of the crime later on.
Follow up steps to take
Complete an ID Theft Affidavit. Copies are available through the credit bureau, or internet.
"The Identity - Theft Survival Kit" - Written by an identity theft victim, this kit has form letters and step by step instructions on how to combat identity theft. The complete package contains a book, computer diskette with form letters, and audiocassette tapes of interviews with experts. You can order this kit online or by writing to Porpoise Press Inc. 28202 Cabot Road, suite 215, Laguna Niquel, CA 92677 URL: http://www.identitytheft.org
Sites with information:
Equifax - 800-685-1111
Experian(formerly TRW)-888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
Notifications to make of identity theft
DMV - You may need to change your driver's license number if someone is fraudulently using your ID information. Contact DMV and put a fraud alert on your license and request a new number. Fill out a DMV complaint form to begin a fraud investigation. Send supporting documents. Web: www.dmv.ca.gov
Social Security Office - Report misuse of SSN number by calling Security Administration. Order a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefits Statement and check for accuracy. If you fit specific fraud victim criteria, the Social Security Administration may change your social security number. Report fraud: (800) 269-02781. Order Personal Earnings and Benefits Statements: (800) 722-1213. Web address: www.ssa.gov
Postal Inspector - Cal the US Postal Office to obtain the phone number, (800) 275-8777. Find out where fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to talk with the mail carrier. Web: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/.
Local Bank - Notify your local bank that you have been a victim of identity theft. If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the appropriate check verification companies. Put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account (not mother's maiden name). If your own checks are rejected at stores where you shop, contact the check verification company that the merchant uses.
To report fraudulent use on your checks contact:
- CheckRite: 800-766-2748
- Chexsystems: 800-428-9623
- Equifax: 800-437-5120
- Scan: 800-272-7771
- TeleCheck: 800-710-9898
- International Check Services: 800-631-9656
Report stolen ATM Cards and change passwords immediately. Get a new ATM card, account number and password. When creating a password, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your SSN or your birth date.
FTC Identity Theft Web Site - www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
FTC Complaint Reporting Site - https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
Additional Identity Theft Resources - http://www.creditscore.net/identity-theft-resources/
Free Annual Credit Report Web Site - https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp