reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Thieves steal from your mailbox! Place your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or secured mailboxes. Collect your incoming mail as soon after delivery as possible.
Destroy junk mail credit card offers before discarding them. Shred all old bank and credit card statements. Look for information on documents that a thief could use to steal your identity, including account numbers, your social security number, and your driver's license number.
Do not have your social security number, driver's license number, or home phone number pre-printed on your checks.
When you pay your credit card by check, do not write your account number on the check.
Review your bank and credit card statements promptly for any unusual activity. Destroy receipts after you have reviewed your statements
It's a good idea to copy the front and back of your credit cards, and keep them in a safe place. If they are stolen from you, you'll have all the information you need to cancel them immediately!
Protect your wallet! Consider all of the personal information you carry with you every day!
If you sell or donate your personal computer, be sure to clear all data from your computer's hard drive.
If you are a victim of identity theft
Get a notebook and write down who you called, the name of the person you spoke to, the date, details of the call, and next action required.
Any correspondence you are asked to provide should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Contact your local police department, and notify them you've been the victim of identity theft. Give them as many details as you currently have available. They will want copies of documentation you receive from your bank and/or credit card companies. They will assign a case number and an investigator. As you collect additional information, be sure to give the police copies as evidence to add to your case.
Contact your bank and creditors immediately. Ask to speak to someone in the security or fraud department. They may request you to fill out fraud affidavits. The Federal Trade Commission provides a uniform affidavit that most creditors will accept (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/affidavit.pdf)
Request copies of the fraudulent transactions.
If your credit cards have been used fraudulently, request replacement cards with new account numbers. Request the old account be closed and noted as "account closed at consumer's request"
YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR DEBT INCURRED AS A RESULT OF IDENTITY THEFT! If debt collectors attempt to have you pay the outstanding balance, inform them you are the victim of identify theft. Request their fraud affidavit form, and ask them to confirm in writing that you do not owe the debt and that the account has been closed!
If someone is using your checking account fraudulently, immediately contact the bank and close the account. Open a new account, and select new passwords. The bank will ask you to complete a fraud affidavit. Request copies of the fraudulent checks.
You should notify these check verification companies that your checks are being used fraudulently:
CheckRite/Global Payments: 800-766-2748
CheckCenter / CrossCheck: 800-843-0760
International Check Services: 800-526-5380
Report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus
You can report identify theft to all three of the major credit bureaus with just one phone call to an automated line. As a victim of identity theft, you will be sent a free copy of your credit report by each of the credit bureaus. Each agency will list their toll free number on the credit report if you need to speak to someone in their fraud department.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 www.experian.com/
TransUnion 1-800-680-7289 www.transunion.com/
When you receive your credit reports, review them carefully. Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file. If your report contains incorrect information, it must be corrected. It's a good idea to order another credit report in a few months, to verify no unusual activity has taken place.
If an identify thief has stolen your mail, or fraudulently completed a change of address form, notify your local postal inspector. This is a crime! You can find the phone number for the postal inspector in your phone book, listed under Post Office in the Government Section. You may also obtain the phone number by calling 800-275-8777. The Postal Inspection Service's website is www.usps.com/websites/depart/inspect/
NEVER EVER GIVE UP!!!!
NEVER EVER GIVE IN!!!
This is a time consuming, often frustrating process. DO NOT pay any bills that are the result of fraud. DO NOT cover fraudulent checks. DO NOT allow anyone to intimidate or coerce you into paying fraudulent bills. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected, and no legal action should be taken against you.
Listed below are links to several websites you may find useful
This is a link to TransUnion's Fraud Victim Information page
Identity Theft Center
CitiBank offers a free "identity theft tool kit" on their website
USBank also has a comprehensive list of what to do if you are a victim of identity theft
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint helps them learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having. Your information may help others! They can be contacted by phone at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) or on their website at www.consumer.gov/idetheft
Credit Bureau Information:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Report fraud: Call (800) 525-6285 and write to address above
Order credit report: (800) 685-1111
Opt out of pre-approved offers of credit: (1-888-567-8688)
The Big 3 Credit Bureaus now use the same telephone number--
(1-888-567-8688) or 1-888-5-OPTOUT. If you call one, you are opting-out with all three.
Experian (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
Report fraud: Call (800) 301-7195 and write to address above
Order credit report: (800) 682-7654 or (888) 397-3742
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064
Report fraud: (800) 680-7289 and write to:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
Order credit report: (800) 916-8800