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Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 4

									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
  your card.
3. Phishing. They pretend to be financial
  institutions or companies and send spam or
  pop-up messages to get you to reveal your
  personal information.
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
                                                                                                                    IDENTITY THEFT
                                                                          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
                                                                              .O.
                                                                             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
                                                                                               you know.

                                                                                               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
quickly.
                                                                                                Address
                                                                                                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.
                                                                                                Your name

• 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
 Consumer
                                        Phone                          Date              Contact
 Reporting                                                                                                                               Comments
                                        Number                         Contacted         Person
 Company

Equifax                1.800.525.6285

Experian               1.888.EXPERIAN (397.3742)

TransUnion             1.800.680.7289


BANKS, CREDIT CARD ISSUERS AND OTHER CREDITORS (Contact each creditor promptly to protect your legal rights.)

                                  Address and                          Date              Contact
  Creditor                                                                                                                               Comments
                                  Phone Number                         Contacted         Person




LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES — REPORT IDENTITY THEFT

   Agency/                         Phone                Date             Contact          Report
                                                                                                                                              Comments
   Department                      Number               Contacted        Person           Number

								
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