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 includes, but is 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.
How To Protect Your Identity
- Don't leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends
- Don't leave your purse and/or wallets in unattended vehicles
- Deposit outgoing mail in U.S. Postal Service collection boxes
- Shred unwanted documents that contain personal information
- Put your trash out on the day that it is collected
- Review your consumer credit report annually
- Report lost or stolen credit cards to the issuer immediately
- Destroy expired/old credit cards and drivers licenses
- Memorize your Social Security number and passwords.
- Don't list your Social Security number on your checks
- Match credit card receipts against monthly bills
- Check your financial statements for accuracy
- ALWAYS safeguard birth certificates, credit history reports, and any statements that contain personal information
What To Do If You Are The Victim Of An Identity Theft
- Make a police report: Give the Officer as much information on the theft as possible: How the fraud was discovered, activity to date of fraud (in chronological order), affected accounts and losses, and any information about how the imposter got your information.
- Cancel any fraudulent or compromised accounts: Immediately close and dispute any new, unauthorized accounts. The FTC has prepared an "ID theft affidavit" that is accepted by many banks and creditors at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
- Notify Credit Bureaus: Contact one of the three credit bureaus to report the theft. When contacted, the credit bureaus will put a "fraud alert" on your credit report to prevent any further fraudulent accounts from being opened. As soon as one of the credit bureaus places a fraud alert, the other two bureaus are automatically notified to do the same and you should receive a free credit report from all three bureaus.
- Review your credit reports carefully: Look for changes in old accounts and look for newly opened accounts. Check your name, address and Social Security number for any changes. Have the credit agencies remove all information in our credit report that results from the theft. Order new credit reports every three months until your situation is cleared up.
Identity Theft Contact Information
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
600 Pennsylvania, NW, H-130, Washington DC 20580
United States Postal Inspection Service
P.O. Box 7500
Philadelphia, PA 19101-9000
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634