COMMON WAYS ID THEFT HAPPENS:
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods
to steal your personal information, including:
1. Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash
looking for bills or other paper with your personal
information on it.
2. Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers
by using a special storage device when processing
3. Phishing. They pretend to be financial
institutions or companies and send spam or
pop-up messages to get you to reveal your
4. Changing Your Address. They divert your billing
statements to another location by completing a
“change of address” form.
5. “Old-Fashioned” Stealing. They steal wallets
and purses; mail, including bank and credit card
statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new
checks or tax information. They steal personnel
records from their employers, or bribe employees
who have access.
To learn more about ID theft and how to deter, detect,
and defend against it, visit ftc.gov/idtheft. Or request
copies of ID theft resources by writing to:
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission Fighting BACk AgAinSt
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, H-130
Washington, DC 20580
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
DETER DETECT DEFEND
Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring Defend against iD theft as soon as you suspect it.
your personal information is stolen and used your financial accounts and billing statements.
Place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports, and
without your knowledge to commit fraud or
Be alert to signs that require immediate review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors
other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time attention: to follow certain procedures before they open new
and money. It can destroy your credit and accounts in your name or make changes to your existing
ruin your good name. ■ Bills that do not arrive as expected accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting
■ Unexpected credit cards or account statements companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial
90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information. ■ Denials of credit for no apparent reason r Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
r Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal ■ Calls or letters about purchases you did not make
r TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
information before you discard them.
Inspect: Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your
■ Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you
Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social ■ Your credit report. Credit reports contain haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts
Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely information about you, including what on your accounts that you can’t explain.
necessary or ask to use another identifier. accounts you have and your bill paying history.
r The law requires the major nationwide
■ Close accounts. Close any accounts that have been
■ Don’t give out personal information on the phone, tampered with or established fraudulently.
through the mail, or over the Internet unless you consumer reporting companies—Equifax,
r Call the security or fraud departments of each
know who you are dealing with. Experian, and TransUnion—to give you a free
copy of your credit report each year if you company where an account was opened or changed
■ Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; ask for it. without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies
instead, type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, r Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com
of supporting documents.
anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect r Use the ID Theft Affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to support
or call 1-877-322-8228, a service created
your home computer; keep them up-to-date. by these three companies, to order your free your written statement.
Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more information. r Ask for verification that the disputed account has
credit reports each year. You also can write:
Annual Credit Report Request Service, been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
■ Don’t use an obvious password like your birth date, r Keep copies of documents and records of your
P Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits conversations about the theft.
of your Social Security number. ■ Your financial statements. Review financial
accounts and billing statements regularly, ■ File a police report. File a report with law enforcement
■ Keep your personal information in a secure place officials to help you with creditors who may want proof
looking for charges you did not make.
at home, especially if you have roommates, employ of the crime.
outside help, or are having work done in your house.
■ Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
Your report helps law enforcement officials across
the country in their investigations.
r Online: ftc.gov/idtheft
r By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338)
or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
r By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse,
Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION | 6 0 0 P E N N S y LvA N I A A v E . , N W WASHINgTON, DC 20580 | FTC.gOv/IDTHEFT | 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338)
The consumer reporting company has four business days to block the fraudulent
information after accepting your identity theft report. It also must tell the in-
formation provider that it has blocked the information. The consumer report-
ing company may refuse to block the information or remove the block if, for
example, you have not told the truth about your identity theft. If the consumer
reporting company removes the block or refuses to place the block, it must let
The blocking process is only one way for identity theft victims to deal with
You may find that most federal and state agencies, and some local police fraudulent information. There’s also the “reinvestigation process,” which was
departments, offer only “automated” reports – a report that does not require designed to help all consumers dispute errors or inaccuracies on their credit
a face-to-face meeting with a law enforcement officer. Automated reports may reports. For more information on this process, see How to Dispute Credit Report
Errors and Your Access to Free Credit Reports, two publications from the FTC at
be submitted online, or by telephone or mail. If you have a choice, do not www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
use an automated report. The reason? It’s more difficult for the consumer
SAMPLE BLOCKING LETTER – CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANY
reporting company or information provider to verify the information.
Unless you are asking a consumer reporting company to place an extended Date
fraud alert on your credit report, you probably will have to provide additional Your Name
information or documentation when you use an automated report. Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
TIPS FOR ORGANIZING YOUR CASE Complaint Department
Name of Consumer Reporting Company
Accurate and complete records will help you to resolve your identity theft case more
City, State, Zip Code
• Have a plan when you contact a company. Don’t assume that the person you talk to
will give you all the information or help you need. Prepare a list of questions to ask the
Dear Sir or Madam:
representative, as well as information about your identity theft. Don’t end the call until
you’re sure you understand everything you’ve been told. If you need more help, ask
to speak to a supervisor. I am a victim of identity theft. I am writing to request that you block the
following fraudulent information in my file. This information does not
• Write down the name of everyone you talk to, what he or she tells you, and the date relate to any transaction that I have made. The items also are circled on
the conversation occurred. Use Chart Your Course of Action on page 11 to help you. the attached copy of the report I received. (Identify item(s) to be blocked
by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item,
• Follow up in writing with all contacts you’ve made on the phone or in person. Use
such as credit account, judgment, etc.)
certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company or
organization received and when.
Enclosed is a copy of the law enforcement report regarding my identity
• Keep copies of all correspondence or forms you send. theft. Please let me know if you need any other information from me to
block this information on my credit report.
• Keep the originals of supporting documents, like police reports and letters to and from
creditors; send copies only. Sincerely,
• Set up a filing system for easy access to your paperwork.
• Keep old files even if you believe your case is closed. Once resolved, most cases stay
resolved, but problems can crop up. Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing.)
CHART YOUR COURSE OF ACTION
Use this form to record the steps you’ve taken to report the fraudulent use of your identity. Keep this list in a safe place for reference.
NATIONWIDE CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANIES — REPORT FRAUD
Phone Date Contact
Number Contacted Person
Experian 1.888.EXPERIAN (397.3742)
BANKS, CREDIT CARD ISSUERS AND OTHER CREDITORS (Contact each creditor promptly to protect your legal rights.)
Address and Date Contact
Phone Number Contacted Person
LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES — REPORT IDENTITY THEFT
Agency/ Phone Date Contact Report
Department Number Contacted Person Number