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Chapter3_ID Theft

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					                               IDENTITY THEFT/FRAUD
                                ADVOCACY CHECKLIST
Act Immediately!
 Credit Bureau Reporting:
     Call the fraud units of all three credit agencies. Ask to have accounts flagged and provide them with a
     “victim’s statement” of up to 100 words that includes your client’s phone number and a request to verify
     all credit applications.
     Credit Bureau Fraud reporting lines: Equifax - 800-215-6280 / Experian - 800-301-7195
     TransUnion - 800-680-7289
     Client must monitor their credit report every 2 months; ask credit reporting agency to alert those who have
     received the clients report during the last 6 months.
 Creditor Reporting:
     Contact all creditors immediately by phone and in writing where there are fraudulent accounts.
     Ask that accounts be closed as “closed at consumer’s request” rather than “lost or stolen” because the
     company can interpret that as the client at fault. Continue to monitor accounts for new fraudulent activity
     Client may be asked to complete and notarize fraud afidavits provided by the creditors. Notarizing is
     expensive and is not required by law; a written statement and supporting documentation should be
     enough.
     Request previous stmts from when theft began / mark fraudulent chgs on stmts / request creditor clearance
     letters / contact bank to remove names from client lists that they sell
 Stolen Checks/ATM Cards:
    Put stop payments on any outstanding checks; cancel accounts and obtain new ones.
    Give the bank a secret password to your account (not mother’s maiden name)
    Report stolen checks to the check verification companies
    CheckRite - 800-766-2748 / Chexsystems - 800-428-9623 / Equifax - 800-437-5120
    Nat’l Processing Co. - 800-526-5380 / SCAN - 800-262-7771 / TeleCheck - 800-710-9898
    Do not use your old password for ATM cards; don’t use common numbers that can be easily guessed
 Social Security Number Misuse:
    Call the Social Security Hotline at 800-269-0271 / Email: oig.hotline@ssa.gov / Fax: 410-587-0118
    Request a new social security number and card
    Request a copy of Earnings and Benefits Statement and request correction of earnings record, if it contains
    incorrect information
 Fraudulent Change of Address:
    Contact local Postal Inspector if you believe an identity thief has filed a change of address or has used the
    mail to commit credit or bank fraud
    Find out where the fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local Postmaster to forward all mail in
    your name to your own address.
 Drivers License Number Misuse:
     You may request a new drivers license number
     Request that a fraud alert be placed on your old license number
     Fill out the DMV’s complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process; send supporting documents
     with the complaint form to the nearest DMV office. http://www.dmv.ca.gov
 Other Agencies to Contact:
     FTC - 877-IDTHEFT / Law Enforcement to file a report / Federal Agencies - 800-688-9889 / Provide
     police report to all creditors with affidavit
Identity Thieves Can Ruin Your Good Name

                                       Identity theft:
                                     The act of stealing
                                     your good name to
                                       commit fraud.
                   http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/idthieves.htm

Here’s how to guard against it:
Before revealing personal identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared with
others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information: can you choose to have it kept
confidential?
Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if bills do not arrive on time.
Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers
when possible.
Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to what you actually need. If
your I.D. or credit cards are lost or stolen, notify the creditors by phone immediately, and call the credit
bureaus to ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file.
Order a copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies every year. Make sure it’s
accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized.
Keep items with personal information in a safe place; tear them up when you don’t need them anymore.
Make sure charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, bank checks and statements,
expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail are disposed of appropriately.

For More Information
If you've been a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Identity Theft
Hotline by telephone: toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD: 1-866-653-4261; by mail: Identity Theft
Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.

The FTC publishes free brochures on many consumer issues. For a complete list of publications, write for
Best Sellers, Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW,
Washington, DC 20580; or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357), TDD 1-866-653-4261.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-
HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft
and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to
hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
HOW IDENTITY THEFT OCCURS

Despite your best efforts to manage the flow of your personal information or to keep it to
yourself, skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods — low- and hi-tech — to gain
access to your data. Here are some of the ways imposters can get your personal information
and take over your identity.


      How identity thieves get your             How identity thieves use your
      personal information:                     personal information:
      They steal wallets and purses             They call your credit card issuer and,
      containing your identification and        pretending to be you, ask to change
      credit and bank cards.                    the mailing address on your credit
      They steal your mail, including your      card account. The imposter then
      bank and credit card statements,          runs up charges on your account.
      pre-approved credit offers,               Because your bills are being sent to
      telephone calling cards and tax           the new address, it may take some
      information.                              time before you realize there's a
      They complete a "change of address        problem.
      form" to divert your mail to another      They open a new credit card
      location.                                 account, using your name, date of
      They rummage through your trash, or       birth and SSN. When they use the
      the trash of businesses, for personal     credit card and don't pay the bills,
      data in a practice known as               the delinquent account is reported
      "dumpster diving."                        on your credit report.
      They fraudulently obtain your credit      They establish phone or wireless
      report by posing as a landlord,           service in your name.
      employer or someone else who may          They open a bank account in your
      have a legitimate need for — and a        name and write bad checks on that
      legal right to — the information.         account.
      They get your business or personnel       They file for bankruptcy under your
      records at work.                          name to avoid paying debts they've
      They find personal information in your    incurred under your name, or to
      home.                                     avoid eviction.
      They use personal information you         They counterfeit checks or debit
      share on the Internet.                    cards, and drain your bank account.
      They buy your personal information
      from "inside" sources. For example,       They buy cars by taking out auto
      an identity thief may pay a store         loans in your name.
      employee for information about you
      that appears on an application for
      goods, services or credit.



MINIMIZE YOUR RISK
While you probably can't prevent identity theft entirely, you can minimize your risk. By managing
your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help
guard against identity theft:

   •   Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and
       whether it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your
       information: can you choose to have it kept confidential?
   •   Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on
       time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit
       card account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
   •   Guard your mail from theft. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at
       your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it has been
       delivered.
   •   Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily
       available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits
       of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
   •   Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to what you'll
       actually need.
   •   Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet
       unless you have initiated the contact or know who you're dealing with. Identity thieves
       may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers and even government
       agencies to get you to reveal your SSN, mother's maiden name, financial account
       numbers and other identifying information. Legitimate organizations with whom you do
       business have the information they need and will not ask you for it.
   •   Keep items with personal information in a safe place. To thwart an identity thief who may
       pick through your trash to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge
       receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, bank checks and statements
       that you are discarding, expired charge cards and credit offers you get in the mail.
   •   Be cautious about where you leave personal information in your home, especially if you
       have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.
   •   Find out who has access to your personal information at work and verify that the records
       are kept in a secure location.
   •   Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when
       possible.
   •   Don't carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.
   •   Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting
       agencies every year. Make sure it is accurate and includes only those activities you've
       authorized. The law allows credit bureaus to charge you up to $8.50 for a copy of your
       credit report.
   •
Your credit report contains information on where you work and live, the credit accounts that
have been opened in your name, how you pay your bills and whether you've been sued,
arrested or filed for bankruptcy. Checking your report on a regular basis can help you catch
mistakes and fraud before they wreak havoc on your personal finances. See "Credit Reports" on
page 13 for details about removing fraudulent and inaccurate information from your credit
report.


       A SPECIAL WORD ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
       Your employer and financial institution will likely need your SSN for wage
       and tax reporting purposes. Other private businesses may ask you for your
      SSN to do a credit check, such as when you apply for a car loan.
      Sometimes, however, they simply want your SSN for general record keeping.
      You don't have to give a business your SSN just because they ask for it. If
      someone asks for your SSN, ask the following questions:
      Why do you need my SSN? How will my SSN be used?
      What law requires me to give you my SSN?
      What will happen if I don't give you my SSN?
      Sometimes a business may not provide you with the service or benefit you're
      seeking if you don't provide your SSN. Getting answers to these questions will
      help you decide whether you want to share your SSN with the business.
      Remember, though, that the decision is yours.

CREDIT BUREAUS

Equifax — www.equifax.com
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian — www.experian.com
To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write:
P.O. Box 949, Allen TX 75013-0949
To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:
P.O. Box 949, Allen TX 75013- 0949

Trans Union — www.tuc.com
To order your report, call: 800-916-8800 or write:
760 Sproul Road, P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064-0390
To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634



CHOOSING TO SHARE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION — OR NOT
What happens to the personal information you provide to companies, marketers and
government agencies? They may use your information just to process your order. They may use it
to create a profile about you and then let you know about products, services or promotions. Or
they may share your information with others. More organizations are offering consumers choices
about how their personal information is used. For example, many let you "opt out" of having your
information shared with others or used for promotional purposes.
You can learn more about the choices you have to protect your personal information from
credit bureaus, state Departments of Motor Vehicles and direct marketers.

Credit Bureaus

Pre-Screened Credit OffersIf you receive pre-screened credit card offers in the mail (namely,
those based upon your credit data), but don't tear them up after you decide you don't want to
accept the offer, identity thieves may retrieve the offers for their own use without your
knowledge.
To opt out of receiving pre-screened credit card offers, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567- 8688).
The three major credit bureaus use the same toll-free number to let consumers choose not to
receive pre-screened credit offers.

Marketing Lists
Of the three major credit bureaus, only Experian offers consumers the opportunity to have their
names removed from lists that are used for marketing and promotional purposes. To have your
name removed from Experian's marketing lists, call 1-800-407-1088.

Departments of Motor Vehicles
Take a look at your driver's license. All the personal information on it — and more — is on file with
your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A state DMV may distribute your personal
information for law enforcement, driver safety or insurance underwriting purposes, but you may
have the right to choose not to have the DMV distribute your personal information for other
purposes, including for direct marketing.
Not every DMV distributes personal information for direct marketing or other purposes. You may
be able to opt out if your state DMV distributes personal information for these purposes. Contact
your state DMV for more information.

Direct Marketers
The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail, E-mail and Telephone Preference Services allow
consumers to opt out of direct mail marketing, e-mail marketing and/or telemarketing
solicitations from many national companies. Because your name will not be on their lists, it also
means that these companies can't rent or sell your name to other companies.
To remove your name from many national direct mail lists, write:
   DMA Mail Preference Service
   P.O. Box 9008
   Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008
To remove your e-mail address from many national direct e-mail lists, visit www.e-mps.org
To avoid unwanted phone calls from many national marketers, send your name, address, and
telephone number to:
   DMA Telephone Preference Service
   P.O. Box 9014
   Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014
For more information, visit www.the-dma.org

IF YOU'RE A VICTIM
Sometimes an identity thief can strike even if you've been very careful about keeping your
personal information to yourself. If you suspect that your personal information has been hijacked
and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately, and keep a record of
your conversations and correspondence. You may want to use the attached form [PDF only].
Exactly which steps you should take to protect yourself depends on your circumstances and
how your identity has been misused. However, three basic actions are appropriate in almost
every case.

Your First Three Steps
First, contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus.
Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, as
well as a victim's statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts or
changing your existing accounts. This can help prevent an identity thief from opening additional
accounts in your name.
At the same time, ask the credit bureaus for copies of your credit reports. Credit bureaus must
give you a free copy of your report if your report is inaccurate because of fraud. Review your
reports carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your
name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. Also, check the section of your
report that lists "inquiries." Where "inquiries" appear from the company(ies) that opened the
fraudulent account(s), request that these "inquiries" be removed from your report. (See "Credit
Reports" for more information.) In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your
corrections and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

Second, contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or
opened fraudulently.
Creditors can include credit card companies, phone companies and other utilities, and banks
and other lenders. Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each
creditor, and follow up with a letter. It's particularly important to notify credit card companies in
writing because that's the consumer protection procedure the law (Fair Credit Billing Act) spells
out for resolving errors on credit card billing statements. Immediately close accounts that have
been tampered with and open new ones with new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and
passwords. Here again, avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name,
your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive
numbers.

Third, file a report with your local police or the police in the community where the
identity theft took place.
Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit card company or others need proof of
the crime. Even if the police can't catch the identity thief in your case, having a copy of the
police report can help you when dealing with creditors.

Your Next Steps
Although there's no question that identity thieves can wreak havoc on your personal finances,
there are some things you can do to take control of the situation. For example:

   •   Stolen mail. If an identity thief has stolen your mail to get new credit cards, bank and
       credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers or tax information, or if an identity thief
       has falsified change-of-address forms, that's a crime. Report it to your local postal
       inspector. Contact your local post office for the phone number for the nearest postal
       inspection service office or check the Postal Service web site at
       www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect

   •   Change of address on credit card accounts. If you discover that an identity thief has
       changed the billing address on an existing credit card account, close the account.
       When you open a new account, ask that a password be used before any inquiries or
       changes can be made on the account. Avoid using easily available information like your
       mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone
       number, or a series of consecutive numbers. Avoid the same information and numbers
       when you create a PIN.

   •   Bank accounts. If you have reason to believe that an identity thief has tampered with
       your bank accounts, checks or ATM card, close the accounts immediately. When you
       open new accounts, insist on password-only access to minimize the chance that an
       identity thief can violate the accounts.

In addition, if your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment. Also contact the major
check verification companies to request that they notify retailers using their databases not to
accept these checks, or ask your bank to notify the check verification service with which it does
business. Three of the check verification companies that accept reports of check fraud directly
from consumers are:
Telecheck: 1-800-710-9898
International Check Services: 1-800-631-9656
Equifax: 1-800-437-5120
If your ATM card has been lost, stolen or otherwise compromised, cancel the card as soon as
you can and get another with a new PIN.

   •   Investments. If you believe that an identity thief has tampered with your securities
       investments or a brokerage account, immediately report it to your broker or account
       manager and to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

   •    Phone service. If an identity thief has established new phone service in your name; is
        making unauthorized calls that seem to come from and are billed to your cellular phone;
        or is using your calling card and PIN, contact your service provider immediately to
        cancel the account and/or calling card. Open new accounts and choose new PINs.
If you are having trouble getting fraudulent phone charges removed from your account,
contact your state Public Utility Commission for local service providers or the Federal
Communications Commission for long-distance service providers and cellular providers at
http://www.fcc.gov/cib/ccformpage.html or 1-888-CALL-FCC.

   •   Employment. If you believe someone is using your SSN to apply for a job or to work, that's
       a crime. Report it to the SSA's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. Also call SSA at 1-800-772-
       1213 to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your SSN, and to request a copy
       of your Social Security Statement.
   •   Driver's license. If you suspect that your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief to
       get a driver's license or a non-driver's ID card, contact your Department of Motor
       Vehicles. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute
       another number.

   •   Bankruptcy. If you believe someone has filed for bankruptcy using your name, write to
       the U.S. Trustee in the Region where the bankruptcy was filed. A listing of the U.S. Trustee
       Program's Regions can be found at www.usdoj.gov/ust, or look in the Blue Pages of your
       phone book under U.S. Government — Bankruptcy Administration.

Your letter should describe the situation and provide proof of your identity. The U.S. Trustee, if
appropriate, will make a referral to criminal law enforcement authorities if you provide
appropriate documentation to substantiate your claim. You also may want to file a complaint
with the U.S. Attorney and/or the FBI in the city where the bankruptcy was filed.

   •   Criminal records/arrests. In rare instances, an identity thief may create a criminal record
       under your name. For example, your imposter may give your name when being arrested.
       If this happens to you, you may need to hire an attorney to help resolve the problem. The
       procedures for clearing your name vary by jurisdiction.
      SHOULD I APPLY FOR A NEW SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER?
      Under certain circumstances, SSA may issue you a new SSN at your request
      if, after trying to resolve the problems brought on by identity theft, you
      continue to experience problems. Consider this option carefully. A new SSN
      may not resolve your identity theft problems, and may actually create new
      problems. For example, a new SSN does not necessarily ensure a new credit
      record because credit bureaus may combine the credit records from your
      old SSN with those from your new SSN. Even when the old credit information
      is not associated with your new SSN, the absence of any credit history under
      your new SSN may make it more difficult for you to get credit. And finally,
      there's no guarantee that a new SSN wouldn't also be misused by an
      identity thief.

WHERE THERE'S HELP...
The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from consumers who have been victimized.
Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission can help
victims of identity theft by providing information to assist them in resolving the financial and other
problems that can result from this crime. The FTC also refers victim complaints to other
appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action.
If you've been a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's
Identity Theft Hotline by telephone: toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD: 202-326-2502; by mail:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20580; or online: https://www.ftc.gov/ftc/idtheftform.htm.
Other agencies and organizations also are working to combat identity theft. If specific institutions
and companies are not being responsive to your questions and complaints, you also may want
to contact the government agencies with jurisdiction over those companies. They are listed in
the Resources section of this booklet.

    Federal Laws
    The Federal government and numerous
    states have passed laws that address the
    problem of identity theft.
    The Identity Theft and Assumption
    Deterrence Act, enacted by Congress in         uses, without lawful authority, a means
    October 1998 (and codified, in part, at 18
                                                   of identification of another person with
    U.S.C. §1028) is the federal law directed at
    identity theft. (See box at right.)
                                                   the intent to commit, or to aid or abet,
    Violations of the Act are investigated by      any unlawful activity that constitutes a
    federal law enforcement agencies,              violation of federal law, or that
    including the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI,    constitutes a felony under any
    the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and SSA's
    Office of the Inspector General. Federal
    identity theft cases are prosecuted by the
    U.S. Department of Justice.

In most instances, a conviction for identity theft carries a maximum penalty of 15 years
imprisonment, a fine and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to
commit the crime. The Act also directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and amend
the federal sentencing guidelines to provide appropriate penalties for those persons convicted
of identity theft.
Schemes to commit identity theft or fraud also may involve violations of other statutes, such as
credit card fraud; computer fraud; mail fraud; wire fraud; financial institution fraud; or Social
Security fraud. Each of these federal offenses is a felony and carries substantial penalties — in
some cases, as high as 30 years in prison, fines and criminal forfeiture.

State Laws
Many states have passed laws related to identity theft; others may be considering such
legislation. Where specific identity theft laws do not exist, the practices may be prohibited under
other laws. Contact your State Attorney General's office or local consumer protection agency to
find out whether your state has laws related to identity theft, or visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft
State laws that had been enacted at the time of this booklet's publication are listed below.
        Arizona       Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-      Mississippi   Miss. Code Ann. § 97-
        Arkansas      2708                        Missouri      19-85
        California    Ark. Code Ann. § 5-37-      New           Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.223
        Connecti      227                         Jersey        N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:21-
        cut           Cal. Penal Code §           North         17
        Georgia       530.5                       Dakota        N.D.C.C. § 12.1-23-11
        Idaho         1999 Conn. Acts 99          Ohio          Ohio Rev. Code Ann.
        Illinois      Ga. Code Ann. §§ 121-       Oklahom       2913
        Iowa          127                         a             Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §
        Kansas        Idaho Code § 28-3126        Tennessee     1533.1
        Maryland      720 ILCS 5/16G              Texas         Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-
        Massachu      Iowa Code § 715A8           Washingto     14-150
        setts         Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-       n             Tex. Penal Code §
                      4108                        West          32.51
                      Md. Ann. Code art. 27       Virginia      Wash. Rev. Code §
                      § 231                       Wisconsin     9.35
                      Mass. Gen. Laws ch.                       W. Va. Code § 61-3-54
                      266 § 37E                                 Wis. Stat. § 943.201

RESOLVING CREDIT PROBLEMS
Resolving credit problems resulting from identity theft can be time-consuming and frustrating.
The good news is that there are federal laws that establish procedures for correcting credit
report errors and billing errors, and for stopping debt collectors from contacting you about debts
you don't owe.
Here is a brief summary of your rights, and what to do to clear up credit problems that result from
identity theft.

Credit Reports
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on your
credit record and requires that your record be made available only for certain legitimate
business needs.
Under the FCRA, both the credit bureau and the organization that provided the information to
the credit bureau (the "information provider"), such as a bank or credit card company, are
responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect your
rights under the law, contact both the credit bureau and the information provider.

First, call the credit bureau and follow up in writing. Tell them what information you believe is
inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition
to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in
your report that you dispute, give the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and
request deletion or correction. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with circles
around the items in question. Your letter may look something like the sample. Send your letter by
certified mail, and request a return receipt so you can document what the credit bureau
received and when. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.
Credit bureaus must investigate the items in question — usually within 30 days — unless they
consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the
dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute
from the credit bureau, it must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the credit
bureau and report the results to the credit bureau. If the information provider finds the disputed
information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide credit bureaus so they can correct this
information in your file. Note that:
     • Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.
     • If your report contains erroneous information, the credit bureau must correct it.
     • If an item is incomplete, the credit bureau must complete it. For example, if your file
         shows that you have been late making payments, but fails to show that you are no
         longer delinquent, the credit bureau must show that you're current.
     • If your file shows an account that belongs to someone else, the credit bureau must
         delete it.
When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau must give you the written results and a
free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the
credit bureau cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information
provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the credit bureau gives you a written
notice that includes the name, address and phone number of the information provider.
If you request, the credit bureau must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your
report in the past six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy of their report sent to
anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If an
investigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the credit bureau to include your statement of
the dispute in your file and in future reports.

Second, in addition to writing to the credit bureau, tell the creditor or other information provider
in writing that you dispute an item. Again, include copies (NOT originals) of documents that
support your position. Many information providers specify an address for disputes. If the
information provider then reports the item to any credit bureau, it must include a notice of your
dispute. In addition, if you are correct — that is, if the disputed information is not accurate — the
information provider may not use it again.

Credit Cards
The Fair Credit Billing Act establishes procedures for resolving billing errors on your credit card
accounts. It also limits your liability for unauthorized credit card charges in most cases to $50 per
card.
The Act's settlement procedures apply to disputes about "billing errors." This includes fraudulent
charges on your accounts.
To take advantage of the law's consumer protections, you must:
    • write to the creditor at the address given for "billing inquiries," not the address for sending
        your payments. Include your name, address, account number and a description of the
        billing error, including the amount and date of the error. Your letter may look something
        like the sample.
    • send your letter so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing
        the error was mailed to you. If the address on your account was changed by an identity
        thief and you never received the bill, your dispute letter still must reach the creditor within
        60 days of when the creditor would have mailed the bill. This is why it's so important to
        keep track of your billing statements and immediately follow up when your bills don't
        arrive on time.
    •
Send your letter by certified mail, and request a return receipt. This will be your proof of the date
the creditor received the letter. Include copies (NOT originals) of sales slips or other documents
that support your position. Keep a copy of your dispute letter.
The creditor must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days after receiving it, unless
the problem has been resolved. The creditor must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles
(but not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter.

Debt Collectors
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive
practices to collect overdue bills that a creditor has forwarded for collection.
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency
telling them to stop. Once the debt collector receives your letter, the company may not
contact you again — with two exceptions: they can tell you there will be no further contact and
they can tell you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
A collector also may not contact you if, within 30 days after you receive the written notice, you
send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe the money. Although such a letter
should stop the debt collector's calls, it will not necessarily get rid of the debt itself, which may still
turn up on your credit report. In addition, a collector can renew collection activities if you are
sent proof of the debt. So, along with your letter stating you don't owe the money, include
copies of documents that support your position. If you're a victim of identity theft, including a
copy (NOT original) of the police report you filed may be particularly useful.

ATM Cards, Debit Cards and Electronic Fund Transfers
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act provides consumer protections for transactions involving an ATM
or debit card or other electronic way to debit or credit an account. It also limits your liability for
unauthorized electronic fund transfers.
It's important to report lost or stolen ATM and debit cards immediately because the amount you
can be held responsible for depends on how quickly you report the loss.
      • If you report your ATM card lost or stolen within two business days of discovering the loss
           or theft, your losses are limited to $50.
      • If you report your ATM card lost or stolen after the two business days, but within 60 days
           after a statement showing an unauthorized electronic fund transfer, you can be liable for
           up to $500 of what a thief withdraws.
      • If you wait more than 60 days, you could lose all the money that was taken from your
           account after the end of the 60 days and before you report your card missing.
The best way to protect yourself in the event of an error or fraudulent transaction is to call the
financial institution and follow up in writing — by certified letter, return receipt requested — so
you can prove when the institution received your letter. Keep a copy of the letter you send for
your records.
       After notification about an error on your     While no federal law limits your losses if
       statement, the institution generally has 10   someone steals your checks and
       business days to investigate. The financial   forges your signature, state laws
       institution must tell you the results of its  protect you. Most states hold the bank
       investigation within three business days
                                                     responsible for losses from a forged
       after completing it and must correct an
       error within one business day after
                                                     check. At the same time, however,
       determining that the error has occurred. If most states require you to take
                                                      reasonable care of your account. For
    the institution needs more time, it may take example, you may be held responsible
    up to 45 days to complete the                   for the forgery if you fail to notify the
    investigation — but only if the money in        bank in a timely manner that a check
    dispute is returned to your account and         was lost or stolen. Contact your state
    you are notified promptly of the credit. At
                                                    banking or consumer protection
    the end of the investigation, if no error has
    been found, the institution may take the
                                                    agency for more information.
    money back if it sends you a written
    explanation.
Note: VISA and MasterCard voluntarily have agreed to limit consumers' liability for unauthorized
use of their debit cards in most instances to $50 per card, no matter how much time has elapsed
since the discovery of the loss or theft of the card.

RESOURCES
Federal Government
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) — www.ftc.gov
The FTC is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC
does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission helps victims of identity theft
by providing them with information to help resolve the financial and other problems that can
result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate
government agencies and private organizations for action.
If you've been a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's
Identity Theft Hotline by telephone: toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD: 202-326-2502; by mail:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20580; or online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft

Banking Agencies
If you're having trouble getting your financial institution to help you resolve your banking-related
identity theft problems including problems with bank-issued credit cards contact the agency
with the appropriate jurisdiction. If you're not sure which agency has jurisdiction over your
institution, call your bank or visit www.ffiec.gov/nic/default.htm
   Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) — www.fdic.gov
   The FDIC supervises state-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve
   System and insures deposits at banks and savings and loans.

   Call the FDIC Consumer Call Center at 1-800-934-3342; or write: Federal Deposit
   Insurance Corporation, Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs, 550 17th Street,
   NW, Washington, DC 20429.

   Federal Reserve System (Fed) — www.federalreserve.gov
   The Fed supervises state-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve
   System.

   Call: 202-452-3693; or write: Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, Mail Stop 801,
   Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC 20551; or contact the Federal Reserve Bank in
   your area. The 12 Reserve Banks are located in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia,
   Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and
   San Francisco.

   National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) — www.ncua.gov
   The NCUA charters and supervises federal credit unions and insures deposits at federal
   credit unions and many state credit unions.
   Call: 703-518-6360; or write: Compliance Officer, National Credit Union Administration,
   1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

   Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) — www.occ.treas.gov
   The OCC charters and supervises national banks. If the word "national" appears in the
   name of a bank, or the initials "N.A." follow its name, the OCC oversees its operations.

   Call: 1-800-613-6743 (business days 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST); fax: 713-336-4301; write:
   Customer Assistance Group, 1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3710, Houston, TX 77010; or e-
   mail: Customer.Assistance@occ.treas.gov

   Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) — www.ots.treas.gov
   The OTS is the primary regulator of all federal and many state-chartered thrift institutions,
   which include savings banks and savings and loan institutions.

   Call: 202-906-6000; or write: Office of Thrift Supervision, 1700 G Street, NW, Washington,
   DC 20552.
Department of Justice (DOJ) — www.usdoj.gov
The DOJ and its U.S. Attorneys prosecute federal identity theft cases. Information on identity theft
is available at www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — www.fbi.gov
The FBI is one of the federal criminal law enforcement agencies that investigates cases of
identity theft. Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — www.fcc.gov
The FCC regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite
and cable. The FCC's Consumer Information Bureau is the consumer's one-stop source for
information, forms, applications and current issues before the FCC.
Call: 1-888-CALL-FCC; TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC; or write: Federal Communications Commission,
Consumer Information Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 5A863, Washington, DC 20554. You can
file complaints via the online complaint form at www.fcc.gov, or e-mail questions to
fccinfo@fcc.gov.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — www.treas.gov/irs/ci
The IRS is responsible for administering and enforcing the internal revenue laws. If you believe
someone has assumed your identity to file federal Income Tax Returns, or to commit other tax
fraud, call toll-free: 1-800-829-0433.

U.S. Secret Service (USSS) — www.treas.gov/usss
The U.S. Secret Service is one of the federal law enforcement agencies that investigates financial
crimes, which may include identity theft. Although the Secret Service generally investigates
cases where the dollar loss is substantial, your information may provide evidence of a larger
pattern of fraud requiring their involvement. Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your
telephone directory.

Social Security Administration (SSA) — www.ssa.gov
SSA may assign you a new SSN at your request if you continue to experience problems even
after trying to resolve the problems resulting from identity theft. SSA field office employees work
closely with victims of identity theft and third parties to collect the evidence needed to assign a
new SSN in these cases.
SSA Office of the Inspector General (SSA/OIG)
The SSA/OIG is one of the federal law enforcement agencies that investigates cases of identity
theft.
Direct allegations that an SSN has been stolen or misused to the SSA Fraud Hotline. Call: 1-800-
269-0271; fax: 410-597-0018; write: SSA Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235; or e-
mail: oig.hotline@ssa.gov

U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) — www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect
The USPIS is one of the federal law enforcement agencies that investigates cases of identity
theft. USPIS is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service. USPIS has primary jurisdiction in
all matters infringing on the integrity of the U.S. mail. You can locate the USPIS district office
nearest you by calling your local post office or checking the list at the web site above.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — www.sec.gov
The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Assistance serves investors who complain to the SEC
about investment fraud or the mishandling of their investments by securities professionals. If
you've experienced identity theft in connection with a securities transaction, write: SEC, 450 Fifth
Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20549-0213. You also may call 202-942-7040 or send an e-mail to
help@sec.gov.

U. S. Trustee (UST) — www.usdoj.gov/ust
If you believe someone has filed for bankruptcy using your name, write to the U.S. Trustee in the
region where the bankruptcy was filed. A list of the U.S. Trustee's Regional Offices is available on
the UST web site, or check the Blue Pages of your phone book under U.S. Government
Bankruptcy Administration. Your letter should describe the situation and provide proof of your
identity. The U.S. Trustee, if appropriate, will make a criminal referral to criminal law enforcement
authorities if you provide appropriate documentation to substantiate your claim. You also may
want to file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney and/or the FBI in the city where the bankruptcy
was filed.
The U.S. Trustee does not provide legal representation, legal advice or referrals to lawyers. That
means you may need to hire an attorney to help convince the bankruptcy court that the filing is
fraudulent. The U.S. Trustee does not provide consumers with copies of court documents. Those
documents are available from the bankruptcy clerk's office for a fee.

State and Local Governments
Many states and local governments have passed laws related to identity theft; others may be
considering such legislation. Where specific identity theft laws do not exist, the practices may be
prohibited under other laws. Contact your State Attorney General's office (for a list of state
offices, visit www.naag.org) or local consumer protection agency to find out whether your state
has laws related to identity theft, or visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft/

Credit Bureaus
Equifax — www.equifax.com
To order your report, call: 1-800-685-1111
or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud, call: 1-800-525-6285
and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian — www.experian.com
To order your report, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
or write: P.O. Box 949, Allen TX 75013- 0949
To report fraud, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
and write: P.O. Box 949, Allen TX 75013-0949

Trans Union — www.tuc.com
To order your report, call: 800-916-8800
or write: 760 Sproul Road, P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064-0390.
To report fraud, call: 1-800-680-7289
and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634




Source: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/money/id-theft/idtheft.htm#occurs
                       IDENTITY THEFT
                  PROBLEMS AND PREVENTION

TYPICAL SCAM:
Mr. Hill returned from a long business trip only to hear the voices of angry merchants on his
answering machine, demanding he make good on bad checks he had written. In a panic he called
his bank to verify that no money was missing. To his relief, it was all there. But he began to realize
that while he was out of town, someone had stolen his personal information. With that, the thief
made a phony bank account number and churned out counterfeit checks.
Much later he learned that the thief had purchased his identity (including his social security
number, address and other personal information) from a local ring that obtains identities and sells
 them. While Mr. Hill was away, the thief used his bogus checks for a weekend of mega-buying. In
three days, he bought $10,000 worth of clothing and electronics.
What happened to Mr. Hill is called identity theft. The U.S. General Accounting Office reports a
nearly fifteen hundred percent increase in identity theft inquiries from 1992 to 1997, and dollar
amounts are estimated in the multi-millions.

•      TIPS FOR PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT:

• Be careful about giving out your social security or credit-card numbers. Always question an
  institution’s need for your social security number.
• Never carry your social security card.
• Do not sign the back of your credit card; instead, print the words “Ask for I.D.”
• When you sign a charge slip always circle the amount so that nothing can be added later.
• Never keep your pin number anywhere near your credit card.
• Check your monthly statements as soon as they arrive; if there is loss on your account contact
   the credit card company AND contact the credit reporting bureaus to ask for “fraud alert.”
• Monitor your credit reports at least every 6 months; this is the fastest way to uncover theft.
• Request that unsolicited credit card offers be stopped; have your name removed from credit
   bureau mailing lists by calling the credit bureaus.
• Request that your credit card companies stop sending the “instant checks” that are often
   attached to credit solicitation mail. These are “instant cash” for thieves.
• Never put unshredded personal financial information in the trash.
• Carry outgoing mail to the post office or collection box; thieves often steal mail from home
   mailboxes.
• To request copies of your credit report call: Equifax (800)685-1111; Experian (888)397-3742;
   Trans-Union (800)888-4213

        For more information, or to report possible identity theft:
    Federal Trade Commission            Equifax           Experian                Trans Union
      Hotline 877-IDTHEFT               800-525-6285      888-EXPERIAN            800-916-8800
    or www.consumer.gov/idtheft)          (Fraud)              Fraud)                  (Fraud)
Identity Crisis... What to Do If Your Identity is Stolen
"I don't remember opening that credit card account. And I certainly didn't buy those items I'm being billed
for."
Maybe you never opened that account, but someone else did...someone who used your name
and personal information to commit fraud. When an imposter co-opts your name, your Social Security
number (SSN), your credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their use - in
short, when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge - it's a crime, pure
and simple.

The biggest problem? You may not know your identity's been stolen until you notice that something's
amiss: you may get bills for a credit card account you never opened, your credit report may include debts
you never knew you had, a billing cycle may pass without your receiving a statement, or you may see
charges on your bills that you didn't sign for, didn't authorize, and don't know anything about.

First Things First
If someone has stolen your identity, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you take
three actions immediately.

First, contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Tell them to flag your file
with a fraud alert including a statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new
accounts in your name.

At the same time, ask the credit bureaus for copies of your credit reports. Credit bureaus must give you a
free copy of your report if it is inaccurate because of fraud. Review your reports carefully to make sure no
additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your
existing accounts. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections and
changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

Order credit report Report fraud Web site
Equifax 800-685-1111 800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
Experian 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) 888-EXPERIAN www.experian.com
Trans Union 800-916-8800 800-680-7289 www.tuc.com
Second, contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Ask
to speak with someone in the security or fraud department, and follow up in writing. Following up with a
letter is one of the procedures spelled out in the Fair Credit Billing Act for resolving errors on credit billing
statements, including charges that you have not made.

Third, file a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Keep a copy in case your creditors need proof of the crime.


Next, Take Control
Although identity thieves can wreak havoc on your personal finances, there are some things you can do
to take control of the situation. Here's how to handle some of the most common forms of identity theft.

If an identity thief has stolen your mail for access to new credit cards, bank and credit card statements,
pre-approved credit offers and tax information or falsified change-of-address forms, (s)he has committed
a crime. Report it to your local postal inspector.

If you discover that an identity thief has changed the billing address on an existing credit card account,
close the account. When you open a new account, ask that a password be used before any inquiries or
changes can be made on the account. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden
name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive
numbers. Avoid the same information and numbers when you create a Personal Identification Number
(PIN).

If you have reason to believe that an identity thief has accessed your bank accounts, checking account or
ATM card, close the accounts immediately. When you open new accounts, insist on password-only
access. If your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment. If your ATM card has been lost,
stolen or otherwise compromised, cancel the card and get another with a new PIN.

If an identity thief has established new phone or wireless service in your name and is making
unauthorized calls that appear to come from - and are billed to - your cellular phone, or is using your
calling card and PIN, contact your service provider immediately to cancel the account and calling card.
Get new accounts and new PINs.

If it appears that someone is using your SSN when applying for a job, get in touch with the Social Security
Administration (SSA) to verify the accuracy of your reported earnings and that your name is reported
correctly. Call (800) 772-1213 to check your Social Security Statement.

In addition, the SSA may issue you a new SSN at your request if, after trying to resolve the problems
brought on by identity theft, you continue to experience problems. Consider this option carefully. A new
SSN may not resolve your identity theft problems, and may actually create new problems. For example, a
new SSN does not necessarily ensure a new credit record because credit bureaus may combine the
credit records from your old SSN with those from your new SSN. Even when the old credit information is
not associated with your new SSN, the absence of any credit history under your new SSN may make it
more difficult for you to get credit. And finally, there's no guarantee that a new SSN wouldn't also be
misused by an identity thief.

If you suspect that your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license, report it to
your Department of Motor Vehicles. Also, if your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number,
ask to substitute another number.


Stay Alert
Taking the steps outlined here should, in most cases, resolve your identity theft problems, but identity
theft or related credit problems may reoccur. Stay alert to new instances of identity theft. Notify the
company or creditor that's involved immediately. Follow up in writing.

Order a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus every year to check on their accuracy and
whether they include only those debts and loans you've incurred. This could be very important if you're
considering a major purchase, such as a house or a car. A credit bureau may charge you up to $9.00 for
a copy of your report.


Complaint Clearinghouse
If you've been a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Identity Theft
Hotline by telephone: toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD: 202-326-2502; by mail: Identity Theft
Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580; or
online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Ask for a copy of ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good
Name, a free comprehensive consumer guide to help you guard against and recover from identity theft.


For More Information
 The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
 marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a
 complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-
 HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft
 and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to
 hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Source: www.ftc.gov
                                Instructions for
                        Completing the ID Theft Affidavit
To make certain that you do not become respon-         the account(s) or access to them.
sible for the debts incurred by the identity thief,          Complete this affidavit as soon as pos-
you must provide proof that you didn’t create the      sible. Many creditors ask that you send it within
debt to each of the companies where accounts           two weeks of receiving it. Delaying could slow the
where opened or used in your name.                     investigation.
      A working group composed of credit grant-              Be as accurate and complete as possible.
ors, consumer advocates and the Federal Trade          You may choose not to provide some of the
Commission (FTC) developed this ID Theft               information requested. However, incorrect or
Affidavit to help you report information to many       incomplete information will slow the process of
companies using just one standard form. Use of         investigating your claim and absolving the debt.
this affidavit is optional for companies. While many   Please print clearly.
companies accept this affidavit, others require that         When you have finished completing the
you submit more or different forms. Before you         affidavit, mail a copy to each creditor, bank or
send the affidavit, contact each company to find       company that provided the thief with the unautho-
out if they accept it.                                 rized credit, goods or services you describe.
      You can use this affidavit where a new ac-       Attach to each affidavit a copy of the Fraudulent
count was opened in your name. The information         Account Statement with information only on
will enable the companies to investigate the fraud     accounts opened at the institution receiving the
and decide the outcome of your claim. (If some-        packet, as well as any other supporting documen-
one made unauthorized charges to an existing           tation you are able to provide.
account, call the company to find out what to                Send the appropriate documents to each
do.)                                                   company by certified mail, return receipt
      This affidavit has two parts:                    requested, so you can prove that it was received.
■ ID Theft Affidavit is where you report general       The companies will review your claim and send
   information about yourself and the theft.           you a written response telling you the outcome of
                                                       their investigation. Keep a copy of everything
■   Fraudulent Account Statement is                    you submit for your records.
    where you describe the fraudulent account(s)             If you cannot complete the affidavit, a legal
    opened in your name. Use a separate Fraudu-        guardian or someone with power of attorney may
    lent Account Statement for each company you        complete it for you. Except as noted, the informa-
    need to write to.                                  tion you provide will be used only by the company
                                                       to process your affidavit, investigate the events
      When you send the affidavit to the compa-        you report and help stop further fraud. If this
nies, attach copies (NOT originals) of any support-    affidavit is requested in a lawsuit, the company
ing documents (for example, drivers license, police    might have to provide it to the requesting party.
report) you have. Before submitting your affidavit,          Completing this affidavit does not guarantee
review the disputed account(s) with family mem-        that the identity thief will be prosecuted or that
bers or friends who may have information about         the debt will be cleared.




       DO NOT SEND AFFIDAVIT TO THE FTC OR ANY OTHER
                   GOVERNMENT AGENCY
If you haven’t already done so, report the fraud   2. The fraud department at each creditor,
to the following organizations:                       bank, or utility/service that provided the
                                                      identity thief with unauthorized credit,
1. Each of the three national consumer                goods or services. This would be a good
   reporting agencies. Ask each agency to             time to find out if the company accepts this
   place a “fraud alert” on your credit report,       affidavit, and whether they require notariza-
   and send you a copy of your credit file.           tion or a copy of the police report.
   When you have completed your affidavit
   packet, you may want to send them a copy        3. Your local police department. Ask the
   to help them investigate the disputed              officer to take a report and give you a copy
   accounts.                                          of the report. Sending a copy of your police
                                                      report to financial institutions can speed up
■   Equifax Credit Information Services,              the process of absolving you of wrongful
    Inc.                                              debts or removing inaccurate information
    (800) 525-6285/ TDD 1-800-255-0056 and            from your credit reports. If you can’t get a
    ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure      copy, at least get the number of the report.
    Line at 1-800-685-1111 to obtain a copy of
    your report.                                   4. The FTC, which maintains the Identity
    P Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
     .O.                                              Theft Data Clearinghouse – the federal
    www.equifax.com                                   government’s centralized identity theft
                                                      complaint database – and provides informa-
■   Experian information Solutions, Inc.              tion to identity theft victims. You can visit
    (888) 397-3742/ TDD (800) 972-0322                www.consumer.gov/idtheft or call toll-
    P Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013
     .O.                                              free 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338).
    www.experian.com
                                                     The FTC collects complaints from identity
■   TransUnion                                       theft victims and shares their information
    (800) 680-7289/ TDD (877) 553-7803               with law enforcement nationwide. This
    Fraud Victim Assistance Division                 information also may be shared with other
    P Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634-6790
     .O.                                             government agencies, consumer reporting
    www.transunion.com                               agencies, and companies where the fraud
                                                     was perpetrated to help resolve identity
                                                     theft related problems.




    DO NOT SEND AFFIDAVIT TO THE FTC OR ANY OTHER
                GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Name __________________________________ Phone number _______________________ Page 1




                                      ID Theft Affidavit


 Victim Information


    (1) My full legal name is ___________________________________________________________
                                  (First)       (Middle)         (Last)         (Jr., Sr., III)

    (2) (If different from above) When the events described in this affidavit took place, I was known as

         ____________________________________________________________________________
         (First)           (Middle)             (Last)                (Jr., Sr., III)

    (3) My date of birth is ____________________
                               (day/month/year)

    (4) My Social Security number is________________________________

    (5) My driver’s license or identification card state and number are__________________________

    (6) My current address is __________________________________________________________

         City ___________________________ State _________________ Zip Code ______________

    (7) I have lived at this address since ____________________
                                                (month/year)

    (8) (If different from above) When the events described in this affidavit took place, my address was
          ______________________________________________________________________________

         City ___________________________ State _________________ Zip Code ______________


    (9) I lived at the address in Item 8 from __________ until __________
                                             (month/year)     (month/year)

   (10) My daytime telephone number is (____)____________________

         My evening telephone number is (____)____________________



    DO NOT SEND AFFIDAVIT TO THE FTC OR ANY OTHER
                GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Name    __________________________________ Phone number _______________________ Page 2



 How the Fraud Occurred

    Check all that apply for items 11 - 17:

    (11) ❑ I did not authorize anyone to use my name or personal information to seek the money,
           credit, loans, goods or services described in this report.

    (12) ❑ I did not receive any benefit, money, goods or services as a result of the events described
           in this report.

    (13) ❑ My identification documents (for example, credit cards; birth certificate; driver’s license;
           Social Security card; etc.) were ❑ stolen ❑ lost on or about __________________.
                                                                             (day/month/year)
    (14) ❑ To the best of my knowledge and belief, the following person(s) used my information (for
           example, my name, address, date of birth, existing account numbers, Social Security
           number, mother’s maiden name, etc.) or identification documents to get money, credit,
           loans, goods or services without my knowledge or authorization:

              _________________________________            ____________________________________
              Name (if known)                              Name (if known)
              _________________________________            ____________________________________
              Address (if known)                           Address (if known)
              _______________________________              ____________________________________
              Phone number(s) (if known)                   Phone number(s) (if known)
              _________________________________            ____________________________________
              Additional information (if known)            Additional information (if known)

    (15) ❑ I do NOT know who used my information or identification documents to get money,
           credit, loans, goods or services without my knowledge or authorization.

    (16) ❑ Additional comments: (For example, description of the fraud, which documents or
           information were used or how the identity thief gained access to your information.)

____________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________
    (Attach additional pages as necessary.)


    DO NOT SEND AFFIDAVIT TO THE FTC OR ANY OTHER
                GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Name     __________________________________ Phone number _______________________ Page 3



  Victim’s Law Enforcement Actions

    (17) (check one) I ❑ am      ❑ am not    willing to assist in the prosecution of the person(s) who
         committed this fraud.

    (18) (check one) I ❑ am ❑ am not authorizing the release of this information to law
         enforcement for the purpose of assisting them in the investigation and prosecution of the
         person(s) who committed this fraud.

    (19) (check all that apply) I ❑ have ❑ have not reported the events described in this affidavit
         to the police or other law enforcement agency. The police ❑ did ❑ did not write a
         report. In the event you have contacted the police or other law enforcement agency, please
         complete the following:

          _____________________________            _________________________________
          (Agency #1)                              (Officer/Agency personnel taking report)
          ____________________________             _________________________________
          (Date of report)                         (Report number, if any)
          _____________________________             _________________________________
          (Phone number)                           (email address, if any)

          _____________________________             _________________________________
          (Agency #2)                              (Officer/Agency personnel taking report)
          _____________________________            _________________________________
          (Date of report)                         (Report number, if any)
          _____________________________            _________________________________
          (Phone number)                           (email address, if any)


  Documentation Checklist

     Please indicate the supporting documentation you are able to provide to the companies you plan to
notify. Attach copies (NOT originals) to the affidavit before sending it to the companies.

    (20) ❑ A copy of a valid government-issued photo-identification card (for example, your driver’s
           license, state-issued ID card or your passport). If you are under 16 and don’t have a
           photo-ID, you may submit a copy of your birth certificate or a copy of your official school
           records showing your enrollment and place of residence.

    (21) ❑ Proof of residency during the time the disputed bill occurred, the loan was made or the
           other event took place (for example, a rental/lease agreement in your name, a copy of a
           utility bill or a copy of an insurance bill).




     DO NOT SEND AFFIDAVIT TO THE FTC OR ANY OTHER
                 GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Name      __________________________________ Phone number _______________________ Page 4

     (22) ❑ A copy of the report you filed with the police or sheriff’s department. If you are unable to
            obtain a report or report number from the police, please indicate that in Item 19. Some
            companies only need the report number, not a copy of the report. You may want to check
            with each company.


  Signature

     I declare under penalty of perjury that the information I have provided in this affidavit is true and
correct to the best of my knowledge.

     _______________________________________                  __________________________________
     (signature)                                              (date signed)

    Knowingly submitting false information on this form could subject you to criminal
prosecution for perjury.




     ______________________________________
     (Notary)

     [Check with each company. Creditors sometimes require notarization. If they do not, please have one
witness (non-relative) sign below that you completed and signed this affidavit.]

     Witness:

     _______________________________________                  __________________________________
     (signature)                                              (printed name)

      _______________________________________                 __________________________________
     (date)                                                   (telephone number)




      DO NOT SEND AFFIDAVIT TO THE FTC OR ANY OTHER
                  GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Name     __________________________________ Phone number _______________________ Page 5


                           Fraudulent Account Statement
                                       Completing this Statement
       • Make as many copies of this page as you need. Complete a separate page for each
         company you’re notifying and only send it to that company. Include a copy of your
         signed affidavit.
       • List only the account(s) you’re disputing with the company receiving this form. See the
         example below.
       • If a collection agency sent you a statement, letter or notice about the fraudulent account,
         attach a copy of that document (NOT the original).


I declare (check all that apply):
   ❑ As a result of the event(s) described in the ID Theft Affidavit, the following account(s) was/were
       opened at your company in my name without my knowledge, permission or authorization using
       my personal information or identifying documents:

 Creditor Name/Address            Account          Type of unauthorized       Date          Amount/Value
 (the company that opened the     Number           credit/goods/services      issued or     provided
 account or provided the goods or                  provided by creditor       opened        (the amount
 services)                                         (if known)                 (if known)    charged or the
                                                                                            cost of the
                                                                                            goods/services)
  Example
                                  01234567-89            auto loan            01/05/2002       $25,500.00
  Example National Bank
  22 Main Street
  Columbus, Ohio 22722




  ❑    During the time of the accounts described above, I had the following account open with your company:

       Billing name ___________________________________________________________________

       Billing address__________________________________________________________________

       Account number _______________________________________________________________


      DO NOT SEND AFFIDAVIT TO THE FTC OR ANY OTHER
                  GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Complaint Input Form
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, you may use the form below to send a complaint
to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The information you provide is up to you. However, if you don't
provide your name or other information, it may be impossible for us to refer, respond to, or investigate
your complaint or request. To learn how we use the information you provide, please read our Privacy
Policy.

The FTC serves as the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. While the FTC
does not resolve individual consumer problems, your complaint helps us investigate fraud, and can lead to
law enforcement action. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal
law enforcement agencies worldwide.

We use secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to protect the transmission of the information you submit.
The information you provide is stored securely offline.

If you want to file a complaint with the FTC about a problem other than identity theft, please use the
Federal Trade Commission online complaint form.
How Do We Reach You?
First Name:
Last Name:
Street Address:
Apt. or Suite No.:
City:
State/Province:
Zip:                                          -
Country:



                     (                    )              Work
Home Phone:          (Area Code)(Phone Number)                     Ext.
                                                         Phone:
                     (Numbers Only)                                (Area Code)(Phone Number)(Extension)
                                                                   (Numbers Only)

Social Security                       -                - Date Of
Number:                                                  Birth:    (MM/DD/YYYY)


Email Address:                                    (i.e., anyone@myisp.com)
Tell Us About Your Problem
1. Types of Identity Theft You Have Experienced.
ID Theft occurs when someone uses your name or other identifying information for their
personal gain. Please check the types of ID theft you were a victim of. (Check as many as
apply)
  Y                                                 Y
                Credit Cards                                      Securities or Other Investments
  Y                                                 Y
                Checking or Savings Accounts                      Internet or E-Mail
                                                    Y
  Y                                                               Government Documents or
                Loans
                                                  Benefits
  Y                                                 Y
                Phone or Utilities                                Other

                                                                             Y
                                                                                         Yes
Did suspect use the Internet to open the account or purchase the goods       N
or services?                                                                             No
                                                                                         Don't Know
2. Describe Your Complaint Here.
Please give us information about the identity theft, including, but not limited to, how the
theft occurred, who may be responsible for the theft, and what actions you have taken since
the theft. Please include a list of companies where fraudulent accounts were established or
your current accounts were affected. Please limit your complaint to 2000 characters.




3. Details of the Identity Theft.

When did you notice that you might be a victim of identity theft?
                                                                                         (MM/DD/
                                                                             YYYY)

When did the identity theft first occur? (i.e., when was the first account
opened?):                                                                                (MM/DD/
                                                                             YYYY)
How many accounts (credit cards, loans, bank accounts, cellular phone
accounts, etc.) were opened or accessed?
How much money, if any, have you had to pay?
                                                                          (Numbers Only)
How much money, if any, did the identity thief obtain from companies in
your name?                                                                (Numbers Only)
What other problems, if any, have you experienced as a result of the identity theft? (Click on the
down arrow. To select more than one, hold down the CTRL key while clicking your selection)
  No Other Harm Suffered
  Civil Suit Filed or Judgement Entered Against You
  Criminal Investigation, Arrest or Conviction
  Denied Credit or Other Financial Services
  Denied Employment or Loss of Job

4. The Identity Thief.
Please provide any information you may have about the identity thief, including his or her name, and any
addresses or phone numbers the identity thief may have used.
First Name:
Last Name:
Street Address:
Apt. or Suite
No.:
City:
State/Province:
Zip:                                      -
Country:

Phone Number: (              )
              (Area Code)(Phone Number) (Numbers Only)
E-mail Address:                           (i.e., anyone@myisp.com)
Your
relationship to
the identity
thief:
5. Contacts.
Please indicate which of the following steps, if any, you have already taken to deal with the identity theft.
For which of the following credit bureaus, have you: (check all that apply)

Called to report the                            Y                           Y                 Y
                            Y                                 Y
fraud?                                        Experian                    Other             None
                         Equifax                            Trans Union

Put a "fraud alert"                             Y                                             Y
                            Y                                 Y             Y
on your report?                               Experian                                      None
                         Equifax                            Trans Union   Other

Ordered your                                    Y                                             Y
                            Y                                 Y             Y
credit report?                                Experian                                      None
                         Equifax                            Trans Union   Other
Problem with                            Y
                        Y                              Y               Y
Credit Bureau?                      Experian
                    Equifax                          Trans Union     Other

                                              Yes
                                                           Yes
Have you Contacted the police?                No
                                                           No

If yes, please provide police department
name:
Department State:
                                              Y
                                                           Yes
Report Number?                                N
                                                           No

If yes, please provide report number:

6. Problems with Companies.
Do you have any problems with the companies, credit bureaus, or organizations you are dealing with
concerning your identity theft problems? If so, identify each company, credit bureau, or organization,
provide its location and/or telephone number, if you have it, and tell us briefly what the problem is.
NOTE: If you checked the problem box for any of the three credit bureaus in the section above,
please include those credit bureaus here.
Company 1
Company Name:
City:
State/Province:
Zip:                                    -
Country:

Phone Number:           (              )              Ext.
                        (Area Code)(Phone Number)(Extension) (Numbers Only)
                            Yes
                                        Yes
Have you notified
                            No
this company?                           No

                            Yes
Have      you    sent                   Yes
written notifications       No
to this company?                        No

Company 2
Company Name:
City:
State/Province:
Zip:                                       -
Country:

                         (              )              Ext.
Phone Number:            (Area Code)(Phone Number)(Extension)(Numbers Only)


                           Yes
                                           Yes
Have you notified this
                           No
company?                                   No

                           Yes
Have you sent written                      Yes
notifications to this      No
company?                                   No

Company 3
Company Name:
City:
State/Province:
Zip:                                   -
Country:

Phone Number:            (              )              Ext.
                         (Area Code)(Phone Number)(Extension)(Numbers Only)
                          Yes
                                       Yes
Have you notified this
                          No
company?                               No

                          Yes
Have you sent written                  Yes
notifications to this     No
                                       No
company?
                          PU03



  Paperwork Reduction Act Statement: Paperwork Reduction Act Statement: This form is designed to
improve public access to the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection's Consumer Response Center, and is
voluntary. Through this form, consumers may electronically register a complaint with the FTC. We
estimate that it will take, on average, 5 minutes to complete the form. Under the Paperwork Reduction
Act, as amended, an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a
collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. That number is 3084-
0047, which also appears in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of this form.
BUILDING A
   BETTER CREDIT
                                                           Credit Cards
                                                           Cr edit Cards
                                            Home/Car

                           R ec ei pt s




                                R ECORD




    FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION    TOLL-FREE 1-877-FTC-HELP
          WWW.FTC.GOV               FOR THE CONSUMER
                                                                                               1


         BUILDING A BETTER CREDIT RECORD
    ewspapers, radio, TV and the Internet are filled with advertisements that offer—for a
N   fee—to erase accurate negative information in your credit file. The scam artists who run
these ads can’t deliver. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a plan to repay your bills will
improve your credit record.




 Do yourself a favor and     $                                                            $
 save some money, too.            We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens and
                                     bad loans from your credit file, FOREVER!
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This publication is designed to help you understand and legally improve your credit report.
This publication has five sections:



   SECTION 1          explains how Consumer Reporting Agencies work and
                      your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.


   SECTION 2
    ECTION            explains how you can legally improve your credit report.


   SECTION 3          offers tips on dealing with debt.


   SECTION 4
    ECTION            cautions you about credit-related scams and how to avoid them.


   SECTION 5
    ECTION            lists resources for additional information.
    SECTION 1


               CONSUMER REPORTING AGENCIES
                         EPORTING
2
     f you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance, there’s a file about
    Iyou. This file contains information on where you work and live, how you pay your bills, and
    whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy.

    Companies that gather and sell this information are called Consumer Reporting Agencies
    (CRAs). The most common type of CRA is the credit bureau. The information CRAs sell about
    you to creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses is called a consumer report.



    T HE F AIR C REDIT R EPORTING A CT (FCRA)
    The FCRA is designed to promote accuracy and
    ensure the privacy of information used in consumer
    reports. Recent amendments to the Act expand your
    rights and place additional requirements on CRAs.
    Businesses that supply information about you to
    CRAs and those that use consumer reports also
    have new responsibilities under the law.

    Here are some questions consumers commonly ask
    about consumer reports and CRAs—and the answers.

    Q. HOW     DO   I   FIND THE   CRA   THAT HAS MY REPORT?
                                         THAT        REPORT
    A.   Contact the CRAs listed in the Yellow Pages under “credit” or “credit rating and
         reporting.” Because more than one CRA may have a file on you, call each until you have
         located all the agencies maintaining your file. The three major credit bureaus are:


              Equifax                    1-800-685-1111
                                         www.equifax.com


              Experian                   1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
                                         www.experian.com


              Trans Union                1-800-916-8800
                                         www.transunion.com


         In addition, anyone who takes action against you in response to a report supplied by a
         CRA—such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment—must give
         you the name, address, and telephone number of the CRA that provided the report.
                                                                                      SECTION 1

Q. DO I    HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT’S IN MY REPORT?
           HAVE                 WHAT         REPORT
A.   Yes, if you ask for it. The CRA must tell you everything in your report, including
     medical information, and in most cases, the sources of the information. The CRA also
     must give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year—two
                                                                                                    3
     years for employment related requests.

Q . IS THERE A CHARGE FOR MY REPORT?
A.   Sometimes. There’s no charge if a company takes adverse action against you, such as
     denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your
     report within 60 days of receiving the notice of the action. The notice will give you the
     name, address, and phone number of the CRA. In addition, you’re entitled to one free
     report a year if you certify in writing that (1) you’re unemployed and plan to look for a
     job within 60 days, (2) you’re on welfare, or (3) your report is inaccurate because of
     fraud. Otherwise, a CRA may charge you up to $9.00 for a copy of your report.

     Even if you have not been denied credit, you may want to find out what information is in
     your credit report. Some financial advisors suggest that you review your credit report
     periodically for inaccuracies or omissions. This could be especially important if you’re
     considering a major purchase, such as buying a home or a car. Checking in advance on
     the accuracy of the information in your credit report could speed the credit-granting
     process.

Q . WHAT
     HAT    TYPE OF INFORMATION DO CREDIT BUREAUS COLLECT AND SELL?
                    INFORMATION
A.   Credit bureaus collect and sell four basic types of information.
     Identification and employment information
     Your name, birth date, Social Security number, employer, and spouse’s name are
     routinely noted. The CRA also may provide information about your employment history,
     home ownership, income, and previous address, if a creditor requests this type of
     information.

     Payment history
     Your accounts with different creditors are listed, showing how much credit has been
     extended and whether you’ve paid on time. Related events, such as referral of an overdue
     account to a collection agency, may also be noted.

     Inquiries
     CRAs must maintain a record of all creditors who have asked for your credit history
     within the past year, and a record of those persons or businesses requesting your credit
     history for employment purposes for the past two years.

     Public record information
     Events that are a matter of public record, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, or tax liens,
     may appear in your report.
    SECTION 2


                    IMPROVING YOUR CREDIT REPORT
                     MPROVING              EPORT

          nder the law, both the CRA and the organization that provided the information to the CRA,
      U   such as a bank or credit card company, have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or
      incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under the law, contact both the
      CRA and the information provider if you have a dispute.
4
      ! First, tell the CRA in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies
        (not originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your
        complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify          each item in your
        report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute           the information,
        and request deletion or correction. You may want to                       enclose a copy of
        your report with the items in question circled. Your                     letter may look
        something like the one below. Send your letter by                       certified mail,
        return receipt requested, so you can document                         what the CRA
        received. Keep copies of your dispute letter                       and enclosures.

             Date
                                                                                                          S AMPLE
             Your Name
             Your Address
             Your City, State, Zip Code                                                                   D ISPUTE
             Complaint Department                                                                         LETTER
             Name of Credit Reporting Agency
             Address
             City, State, Zip Code
             Dear Sir or Madam:
             I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I
             dispute also are encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.

             This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax
             court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is
             (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete
             and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific
             change) to correct the information.

             Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any
             enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting
             my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct)
             the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
             Sincerely,
             Your name
             Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)
                                                                                     SECTION 2

! CRAs must reinvestigate the item(s) in question—usually within 30 days—unless they
  consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide
  about the dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives
  notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant information
  provided by the CRA, and report the results to the CRA. If the information provider
  finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so
  that they can correct this information in your file.

! Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.
  ✓ If your report contains inaccurate information, the CRA must correct it.                     5
  ✓ If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it. For example, if your file showed
    that you were late making payments, but failed to show that you were no longer
    delinquent, the CRA must show that your payments are now current.
  ✓ If your file shows an account that belongs only to another person, the CRA must delete
    it.

! When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results
  and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is
  changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back
  in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and
  completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice of its intent
  to reinsert the items that includes the name, address, and phone
  number of the provider.

! If you request, the CRA must send notices of any correction to
  anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can
  have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past
  two years for employment purposes. If a reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute,
  ask the CRA to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.

! In addition to writing to the CRA, you should tell the creditor or other information
  provider in writing that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (not originals) of
  documents that support your position. Many providers specify an
  address for disputes. If the provider continues to report the disputed
  item to any CRA after receiving your notice, it must include a notice
  that you dispute the item. If you are correct—that is, if the information
  is not accurate—the information provider may not report it again.



A CCURATE N EGATIVE I NFORMATION
  CCURATE   EGATIVE NFORMATION
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its
removal. Accurate negative information generally can stay on your report for seven years.
There are certain exceptions:
! Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years.
! Credit information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more
     than $75,000 has no time limit.
    SECTION 2

      ! Information about criminal convictions has no time limit.
      ! Credit information reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of
        credit or life insurance has no time limit.
      ! Default information concerning U.S. Government insured or guaranteed student loans
        can be reported for seven years after certain guarantor actions.
      ! Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven
        years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.



      SEVEN-YEAR REPORTING PERIOD
                  EPORTING
      There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the
      period runs from the date that the event took place.

6     With regard to any delinquent account placed for collection—internally or by referral to a
      third-party debt collector, whichever is earlier—charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any
      similar action, the seven-year period is calculated from the date of the delinquency that
      occurred immediately before the collection activity, charge to profit and loss, or similar
      action. For example, assume that your payments on a loan were late in January, but that you
      caught up in February. You were late again in May, but caught up in July. You were again
      late in September, but did not catch up before the account was turned over to a collection
      agency in December. You made no more payments on the account, and it is charged to profit
      and loss in July of the following year.

      Under the FCRA, the January and May late payments each can be reported for seven years.
      The collection activity and the charge to profit and loss can be reported for seven years from
      the date of the September payment, which was the delinquency that occurred immediately
      before those activities.



      ADDING ACCOUNTS TO YOUR FILE
      Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department
      store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors
      supply information to CRAs: Some travel, entertainment, gasoline card companies, local
      retailers, and credit unions are among those creditors that don’t.

      If you’ve been told that you were denied credit because of an “insufficient credit file” or “no
      credit file” and you have accounts with creditors that don’t appear in your credit file, ask the
      CRA to add this information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many
      CRAs will add verifiable accounts for a fee. However, understand that if these creditors do not
      report to the CRA on a regular basis, the added items will not be updated in your file.
                                                                                     SECTION 3


                            DEALING              WITH        DEBT
    re you having trouble paying your bills? Are you getting dunning notices from
A    creditors? Are your accounts being turned over to debt collectors? Are you
worried about losing your home or your car?

You’re not alone. Many people face financial crises at some time in
their lives. Whether the crisis is caused by personal or family illness,
the loss of a job, or simple overspending, it can seem
overwhelming, but often can be overcome. The fact of

                                                             Pa
the matter is that your financial situation doesn’t have
to go from bad to worse.                                                                           7

If you or someone you know is in financial hot water,
                                                               st
                                                                           Du
consider these options: realistic budgeting, credit counseling
from a reputable organization, debt consolidation, or


                                                                             e
bankruptcy. How do you know which will work best for you?
It depends on your level of debt, your level of discipline, and
your prospects for the future.



S ELF -H ELP
D EVELOPING   A   B UDGET
The first step toward taking control of your financial situation is to do a realistic assessment
of how much money comes in and how much money you spend. Start by listing your income
from all sources. Then, list your “fixed” expenses—those that are the same each month—such
as your mortgage payments or your rent, car payments, or insurance premiums. Next, list the
expenses that vary, such as entertainment, recreation, or clothing. Writing down all your
expenses—even those that seem insignificant—is a helpful way to track your spending
patterns, identify the expenses that are necessary, and prioritize the rest. The goal is to make
sure you can make ends meet on the basics: housing, food, health care, insurance, and
education.

Your public library has information about budgeting and money management techniques. Low
cost budget counseling services that can help you analyze your income and expenses and
develop a budget and spending plan also are available in most communities. Check your
Yellow Pages or contact your local bank or consumer protection office for information about
them. In addition, many universities, military bases, credit unions, and housing authorities
operate nonprofit financial counseling programs.
    SECTION 3

      C ONTACTING Y OUR C REDITORS
        ONTACTING         REDITORS
      Contact your creditors immediately if you are having trouble making ends meet. Tell them why
      it’s difficult for you, and try to work out a modified payment plan that reduces your payments
      to a more manageable level. Don’t wait until your accounts have been turned over to a debt
      collector. At that point, the creditors have given up on you.

      DEALING WITH DEBT COLLECTORS
                         OLLECTORS
      The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the federal law that dictates how and when a debt
      collector may contact you. A debt collector may not call you before 8 a.m., after 9 p.m., or
      at work if the collector knows that your employer doesn’t approve of the calls. Collectors
      may not harass you, make false statements, or use unfair practices when they try to collect a
      debt. Debt collectors must honor a written request from you to stop further contact.



      CREDIT COUNSELING
      If you aren’t disciplined enough to create a workable budget and stick to it, can’t work out a
      repayment plan with your creditors, or can’t keep track of mounting
8     bills, consider contacting a credit counseling service. Your
      creditors may be willing to accept reduced payments if you
      enter into a debt repayment plan with a reputable
      organization. In these plans, you deposit money each
      month with the credit counseling service. Your deposits are
      used to pay your creditors according to a payment schedule           R EPAYMENT P LAN
                                                                             EPA
      developed by the counselor. As part of the repayment plan,
      you may have to agree not to apply for—or use—any                  ✔ monthly amount
      additional credit while you’re participating in the program.
                                                                         ✔ # of months

      A successful repayment plan requires you to make regular,          ✔ fee
      timely payments, and could take 48 months or longer to
      complete. Ask the credit counseling service for an estimate        ✔ secured/non-secured debt
      of the time it will take you to complete the plan. Some
      credit counseling services charge little or nothing for
      managing the plan; others charge a monthly fee that could
      add up to a significant charge over time. Some credit
      counseling services are funded, in part, by contributions
      from creditors.

      While a debt repayment plan can eliminate much of the stress that comes from dealing with
      creditors and overdue bills, it does not mean you can forget about your debts. You still are
      responsible for paying any creditors whose debts are not included in the plan. You are
      responsible for reviewing monthly statements from your creditors to make sure your payments
      have been received. If your repayment plan depends on your creditors agreeing to lower or
      eliminate interest and finance charges, or waive late fees, you are responsible for making sure
      these concessions are reflected on your statements.
                                                                                         SECTION 3

A debt repayment plan does not erase your negative credit history. Accurate information about
your accounts can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. In addition, your creditors
will continue to report information about accounts that are handled through a debt repayment
plan. For example, creditors may report that an account is in financial counseling, that
payments have been late or missed altogether, or that there are write-offs or other concessions.
A demonstrated pattern of timely payments, however, will help you get credit in the future.

A UTO
  UTO   AND   H OME L OANS
Debt repayment plans usually cover unsecured debt. Your
auto and home loan, which are considered secured debt,
may not be included. You must continue to make
payments to these creditors directly.

Most automobile financing agreements allow a
creditor to repossess your car any time you’re in
default. No notice is required. If your car is
repossessed, you may have to pay the full balance due on the loan,
as well as towing and storage costs, to get it back. If you can’t do this, the creditor may sell the
car. If you see default approaching, you may be better off selling the car yourself and paying
off the debt: You would avoid the added costs of repossession and a negative entry on your             9
credit report.

If you fall behind on your mortgage, contact your lender immediately to avoid foreclosure.
Most lenders are willing to work with you if they believe you’re acting in good faith and the
situation is temporary. Some lenders may reduce or suspend your payments for a short time.
When you resume regular payments, though, you may have to pay an additional amount
toward the past due total. Other lenders may agree to change the terms of the mortgage by
extending the repayment period to reduce the monthly debt. Ask whether additional fees would
be assessed for these changes, and calculate how much they total in the long run.

If you and your lender cannot work out a plan, contact a housing counseling agency. Some
agencies limit their counseling service to homeowners with FHA mortgages, but many offer
free help to any homeowner who’s having trouble making mortgage payments. Call the local
office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the housing authority
in your state, city, or county for help in finding a housing counseling agency near you.
     SECTION 3

       D EBT C ONSOLIDATION
               ONSOLIDATION
       You may be able to lower your cost of credit by consolidating your debt through a second
       mortgage or a home equity line of credit. Think carefully before taking this on. These loans
       require your home as collateral. If you can’t make the payments—or if the payments are late—
       you could lose your home.

       The costs of these consolidation loans can add up. In addition to interest on the loan, you pay
       “points.” Typically, one point is equal to one percent of the amount you borrow. Still, these
       loans may provide certain tax advantages that are not available with other kinds of credit.



       B ANKR UPTCY
              UPTCY
         ANKRUPT
       Personal bankruptcy generally is considered the debt management tool of last resort because the
       results are long-lasting and far-reaching. A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years,
       making it difficult to acquire credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job.
       However, it is a legal procedure that offers a fresh start for people who can’t satisfy their debts.
       Individuals who follow the bankruptcy rules receive a discharge—a court order that says they
       do not have to repay certain debts.

       There are two primary types of personal bankruptcy: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. Each must
       be filed in federal bankruptcy court. The current fees for seeking bankruptcy relief are $160: a
       filing fee of $130 and an administrative fee of $30. Attorney fees are additional and can vary
10     widely. The consequences of bankruptcy are significant and require careful consideration.

       Chapter 13 allows you, if you have a regular income and limited debt, to keep property, such
       as a mortgaged house or car, that you otherwise might lose. In Chapter 13, the court approves
       a repayment plan that allows you to pay off a default during a period of three to five years,
       rather than surrender any property.

       Chapter 7, known as straight bankruptcy, involves liquidating all assets that are not exempt.
       Exempt property may include cars, work-related tools and basic household furnishings. Some
       property may be sold by a court-appointed official—a trustee—or turned over to creditors. You
       can receive a discharge of your debts under Chapter 7 only once every six years.


       Both types of bankruptcy may get rid of unsecured debts and stop foreclosures, repossessions,
       garnishments, utility shut-offs, and debt collection activities. Both also provide exemptions that
       allow you to keep certain assets, although exemption amounts vary. Personal bankruptcy
       usually does not erase child support, alimony, fines, taxes, and some student loan obligations.
       Also, unless you have an acceptable plan to catch up on your debt under Chapter 13,
       bankruptcy usually does not allow you to keep property when your creditor has an unpaid
       mortgage or lien on it.
                                                                                       SECTION 4


                              AVOIDING SCAMS
   urning to a business that offers help in solving debt problems may seem like a reasonable
T  solution when your bills become unmanageable. Be cautious. Before you do business with
any company, check it out with your local consumer protection agency or the Better Business
Bureau in the company’s location.



A DS P ROMISING D EBT R ELIEF M AY B E O FFERING B ANKRUPTCY
                                                       UPTCY
                                                   ANKRUPT
Consumer debt is at an all-time high. What’s more, a record number of consumers—nearly 1.5
million in 2001—are filing for bankruptcy. Whether your debt dilemma is the result of an
                                        illness, unemployment, or overspending, it can seem
    Bankruptcy has a long-              overwhelming. In your effort to get solvent, be on the
    term negative impact on
           negative                     alert for advertisements that offer seemingly quick fixes.
           creditworthiness.
             editworthiness
    your creditworthiness.             While the ads pitch the promise of debt relief, they rarely
                                       say relief may be spelled b-a-n-k-r-u-p-t-c-y. And although
bankruptcy is one option to deal with financial problems, it’s generally considered the option of
last resort. The reason: it has a long-term negative impact on your creditworthiness. A
bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can hinder your ability to get credit, a
job, insurance, or even a place to live.
                                                                                                     11
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cautions consumers to read between the lines when
              faced with ads in newspapers, magazines, or even telephone directories that say:


                       “Consolidate your bills into one
                       monthly payment without borrowing”

                  “STOP credit harassment, foreclosures,
                repossessions, tax levies and garnishments”

            “Keep Your Property”

“Wipe out your debts! Consolidate your bills! How? By using the protection and
assistance provided by federal law. For once, let the law work for you!”


You’ll find out later that such phrases often involve bankruptcy proceedings, which can hurt
your credit and cost you attorneys’ fees.
     SECTION 4

       ADVANCE-FEE LOAN SCAMS
       These scams often target consumers with credit problems or consumers who have difficulty
       getting credit. In exchange for an up-front fee, these companies guarantee that applicants will
       get the credit they want—usually a credit card or a personal loan.

       The up-front fee may range from $100 to several hundred dollars. Resist the temptation to
       follow up on advance-fee loan guarantees. They may be illegal. Many legitimate creditors
       offer extensions of credit, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages, through telemarketing and
       require an application fee or appraisal fee in advance. But legitimate creditors never guarantee
       in advance that you’ll get the loan. Under the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, a seller or
       telemarketer who guarantees or represents a high likelihood of your getting a loan or some
       other extension of credit may not ask for or receive payment until you’ve received the loan.

       RECOGNIZING AN ADVANCE-FEE LOAN SCAM
       There are many fraudulent loan brokers and other individuals misrepresenting the availability of
       credit and credit terms. One of their favorite strategies is the “advance-fee” loan scam. That’s
       where they claim to guarantee that they can get a loan or other type of credit for you—but you
       must pay a fee before you apply.

       Ads for advance-fee loans often appear in the classified ad section of local and national
       newspapers and magazines. They also may appear in mailings, radio spots, and on local cable
       stations. Often, these ads feature “900” numbers, which result in charges on your phone bill. In
       addition, these companies often use delivery systems other than the U.S. Postal Service, such as
       overnight or courier services, to avoid detection and prosecution by postal authorities.

       Don’t confuse a legitimate credit offer with an advance-fee loan scam. An offer for credit from
       a bank, savings and loan, or mortgage broker generally requires your verbal or written
       acceptance of the loan or credit offer. The offer usually is subject to a check of your credit
12
       report after you apply to make sure you meet their credit standards. You are usually not
       required to pay a fee in order to get the credit.

       Be suspicious of anyone who calls you on the phone and says they can guarantee you will get a
       loan if you pay in advance. Hang up. It’s against the law.
                                                                                        SECTION 4

P ROTECTING Y OURSELF
Here are some points to keep in mind before you respond to ads that promise easy credit,
regardless of your credit history:
     ✓ Most legitimate lenders will not “guarantee” that you will get a loan or a credit card
        before you apply, especially if you have bad credit, or a bankruptcy.
     ✓ It is an accepted and common practice for reputable lenders to require payment for a
        credit report or appraisal. You also may have to pay a processing or application fee.
     ✓ Never give your credit card account number, bank account information, or Social
        Security number out over the telephone unless you are familiar with the company and
        know why the information is necessary.

C REDIT R EPAIR S CAMS
          EPAIR
You see the ads in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You
get fliers in the mail. You may even get calls from telemarketers offering credit repair services.
They all make the same claims:


                  “Credit problems? No problem!”

                     “We can erase your bad credit—100% guaranteed.”

                        “Create a new credit identity—legally.”

                               “We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens,
                               and bad loans from your credit file forever!”


                              Do yourself a favor and save some money too. Don’t believe             13
                              these statements. Only time, a conscientious effort, and a plan
                              for repaying your debt will improve your credit report.
     SECTION 4

       T HE S CAM
       Every day, companies nationwide appeal to consumers with poor credit histories. They
       promise, for a fee, to clean up your credit report so you can get a car loan, a home mortgage,
       insurance, or even a job. The truth is, they can’t deliver. After you pay them hundreds or
       thousands of dollars in up-front fees, these companies do nothing to improve your credit report;
       many simply vanish with your money.

       T HE W ARNING S IGNS
       If you decide to respond to a credit repair offer, beware of companies that:
             ✔ want you to pay for credit repair services before any services
               are provided;
             ✔ do not tell you your legal rights and what you can do—
               yourself—for free;
             ✔ recommend that you not contact a credit bureau
               directly;
             ✔ suggest that you try to invent a “new” credit
               report by applying for an Employer Identification
               Number to use instead of your Social Security
               number; or
             ✔ advise you to dispute all information in your
               credit report or take any action that seems illegal, such as creating a new credit identity.
               If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you may be subject to prosecution.

       You could be charged and prosecuted for mail or wire fraud if you use the mail or telephone to
       apply for credit and provide false information. It’s a federal crime to make false statements on a
       loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social Security number, and to obtain an
       Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses.

       T HE C REDIT R EPAIR O RGANIZATIONS A CT
                      EPAIR    GANIZATIONS
       By law, credit repair organizations must give you a copy of the “Consumer Credit File Rights
       Under State and Federal Law” before you sign a contract. They also must give you a written
       contract that spells out your rights and obligations. Read these documents before signing the
       contract. The law contains specific consumer protections. For example, a credit repair company
14     cannot:
            ✔ make false claims about their services;
            ✔ charge you until they have completed the promised services; or
            ✔ perform any services until they have your signature on a written contract and have
                completed a three-day waiting period. During this time, you can cancel the contract
                without paying any fees.
                                                                                     SECTION 4

Your contract must specify:
     ✔ the payment for services, including their total cost;
     ✔ a detailed description of the services to be performed;
     ✔ how long it will take to achieve the results;
     ✔ any guarantees they offer; and
     ✔ the company’s name and business address.



IF YOU ARE A VICTIM — WHERE                   TO   COMPLAIN
If you’ve had a problem with any of the scams described here, contact your local consumer
protection agency, state Attorney General (AG), or Better Business Bureau. Many AGs have
toll-free consumer hotlines. Check with your local directory assistance.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices
in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To
file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-
free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet,
telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in
the U.S. and abroad.




                                                      Commission
                                Federal Trade
                                       ra Tr
                                                            venue, NW                             15
                               600   Pennsylvania A
                                     Pe
                                                             20580
                                 W ashington, DC
                                                        - F TC - H E L P
                                                            TC
                                 To ll - fre e 1- 8 7 7
                                             w w w.f t c .g o v
     SECTION 5


                             FOR MORE INFORMATION
                                       NFORMATION

          he Federal Trade Commission enforces a number of credit laws and provides consumers
       T  with free information about them:

       The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits the denial of credit because of your sex, race,
       marital status, religion, national origin, age, or because you receive public assistance.

       The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to learn what information is being
       distributed about you by credit reporting agencies.

       The Truth in Lending Act requires lenders to give you written disclosures of the cost of
       credit and terms of repayment before you enter into a credit transaction.

       The Fair Credit Billing Act establishes procedures for resolving billing errors on your credit
       card accounts.

       The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or
       deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that your creditor has forwarded for collection.




16
                              Penal Code 530.6
                          Police Report for Identity Theft Crime

530.6. (a) A person who has learned or reasonably suspects that his or her personal
identifying information has been unlawfully used by another, as described in subdivision (a)
of Section 530.5, may initiate a law enforcement investigation by contacting the local law
enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over his or her actual residence, which shall take
a police report of the matter, provide the complainant with a copy of that report, and
begin an investigation of the facts or, if the suspected crime was committed in a different
jurisdiction, refer the matter to the law enforcement agency where the suspected crime
was committed for an investigation of the facts. (b) A person who reasonably believes that
he or she is the victim of identity theft may petition a court, or the court, on its own
motion or upon application of the prosecuting attorney, may move, for an expedited judicial
determination of his or her factual innocence, where the perpetrator of the identity theft
was arrested for, cited for, or convicted of a crime under the victim's identity, or where a
criminal complaint has been filed against the perpetrator in the victim's name, or where
the victim's identity has been mistakenly associated with a record of criminal conviction.
Any judicial determination of factual innocence made pursuant to this section may be
heard and determined upon declarations, affidavits, police reports, or other material,
relevant, and reliable information submitted by the parties or ordered to be part of the
record by the court. Where the court determines that the petition or motion is
meritorious and that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the victim committed the
offense for which the perpetrator of the identity theft was arrested, cited, convicted, or
subject to a criminal complaint in the victim's name, or that the victim's identity has been
mistakenly associated with a record of criminal conviction, the court shall find the victim
factually innocent of that offense. If the victim is found factually innocent, the court
shall issue an order certifying this determination. (c) After a court has issued a
determination of factual innocence pursuant to this section, the court may order the name
and associated personal identifying information contained in court records, files, and
indexes accessible by the public deleted, sealed, or labeled to show that the data is
impersonated and does not reflect the defendant' s identity. (d) A court that has issued a
determination of factual innocence pursuant to this section may at any time vacate that
determination if the petition, or any information submitted in support of the petition, is
found to contain any material misrepresentation or fraud. (e) The Judicial Council of
California shall develop a form for use in issuing an order pursuant to this section.

				
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