Identity Theft

What to do to Keep Your Identity?

How can someone steal your identity? They can use your name, Social Security number, credit card or bank account numbers, etc. as their own. It is a crime when someone takes your personal information without your knowledge or permission, to commit fraud or theft. This is a rapidly growing crime that can cost you on average $800.00 to clear up, and 175 hours over 23 months to get your credit straightened out!

How? They steal your wallet or purse, your mail with bank, credit, and tax information. They may also fraudulently get a copy of your credit report, or they may buy information from stores, restaurants, and other businesses, or from the Internet.

What can you do to minimize your risks? Shred mail and charge receipts, etc. Pick up your mail as soon after delivery as possible. Use the Post Office or their Drop Boxes instead of your own unsecured mailbox. Destroy old credit cards and checks. Carry only the credit cards you usually use, and leave your Social Security Card at home. Treat your identification as the valuable commodity it is!

If You Become a Victim:

Report the theft as soon as possible. Contact your creditors and banking institutions. Close old accounts and open new accounts. Ask that the old account be processed as "Account closed at consumer's request." Be prepared to sign "affidavits of forgery," which are a business' way for you to state that the signature is not yours and no one had permission to use your accounts or identification.

Contact the fraud unit of the 3 credit card reporting companies requesting that a "Fraud Alert" be placed on your file. Ask that a victim's statement be added to the request. (i.e. "My I.D. has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at 123-456-7890 to verify all applications.")

Who to Contact After You Report:

Your credit card issuers and banks
Social Security Administration Information Hotline: 1-800-772-1213
The 3 credit reporting companies:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
Postal Inspector (if mail theft is involved): www.USPS.com/PostalInspectors
Internet Fraud Complaint Center: www.IC3.gov
Sites of interest on the Internet:
www.FTC.gov/bcp/edu/Microsites/IDTheft/
www.FDIC.gov/Consumers/Consumer/News
www.SSA.gov