Identity Theft Protection Tips

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					Identity Theft Protection Tips

       What is Identity Theft

       How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

       Steps to Take if Your Data is Compromised or Stolen

       "Deter-Detect-Defend Avoid Theft" Brochure from the Federal Trade Commission (PDF)

       General Online Safety Practices

       Resources

What is Identity Theft



Identity theft occurs when a criminal uses another person's personal information to take on that person's

identity. Identity theft is much more than misuse of a Social Security number -- it can also include credit

card and mail fraud.




How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft



The following tips can help lower your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.



       Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card or other cards that

        show your SSN. Read, "Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number"

       Use caution when giving out your personal information. Scam artists "phish" for victims by

        pretending to be banks, stores or government agencies. They do this over the phone, in e-mails

        and in postal mail.

       Treat your trash carefully. Shred or destroy papers containing your personal information

        including credit card offers and “convenience checks” that you don’t use.



Protect your postal mail. Retrieve mail promptly. Discontinue delivery while out of town.



Check your bills and bank statements. Open your credit card bills and bank statements right away.

Check carefully for any unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Call if bills
don’t arrive on time. It may mean that someone has changed contact information to hide fraudulent

charges.



Check your credit reports. Review your credit report at least once a year. Check for changed addresses

and fraudulent charges.



Stop pre-approved credit offers. Pre-approved credit card offers are a target for identity thieves who

steal your mail. Have your name removed from credit

bureau marketing lists. Call toll-free 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688).



Ask questions. Ask questions whenever you are asked for personal information that seems inappropriate

for the transaction. Ask how the information will be used and if it will be shared. Ask how it will be

protected. If you’re not satisfied with the answers, don’t give your personal information.



Protect your computer. Protect personal information on your computer by following good security

practices.



Use strong, non-easily guessed passwords.



Use firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software that you update regularly.



Download software only from sites you know and trust and only after reading all the terms and conditions.



Don’t click on links in pop-up windows or in spam e-mail.



Use caution on the Web. When shopping online, check out a Web site before entering your credit card

number or other personal information. Read the privacy policy and take opportunities to opt out of

information sharing. Only enter personal information on secure Web pages that encrypt your data in

transit. You can often tell if a page is secure if "https" is in URL or if there is a padlock icon on the browser

window.
Steps to Take if Your Data is Compromised or Stolen



Step 1: Contact a Major Credit Bureau Agency to Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports

Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the

toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on

your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company

you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report.



Equifax

Direct Line for reporting suspected fraud:

800-525-6285

Fraud Division

P.O. Box 740250

Atlanta, GA 30374

800-685-1111 / 888-766-0008

http://www.equifax.com



Experian

Direct Line for reporting suspected fraud:

888-397-3742

Credit Fraud Center

P.O. Box 1017

Allen, TX 75013

888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

http://www.experian.com



Trans Union

Direct Line for reporting suspected fraud:

800-680-7289

Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790

Fullerton, CA 92634

Phone: 800-916-8800 / 800-680-7289

http://www.transunion.com




When contacting the Credit Reporting Agency, you should request the following:



Instruct them to flag your file with a fraud alert. There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert and an

extended alert. An initial alert is used primarily if you suspect you have been or are about to be a victim

of identity theft. An extended alert is more appropriate if you know you have been a victim of identity

theft. Detailed information on the two fraud alert types are available from the Federal Trade Commission

site.



Ask them for copies of your credit report(s). (Credit bureaus must give you a free copy of your report if it

is inaccurate because of suspected 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.



NOTE: In order to ensure that you are issued free credit reports, we strongly encourage you to contact

the agency's DIRECT LINE (listed above) for reporting fraud. We do not recommend that you order your

credit report online.




Additional Measures Regarding Your Credit Reports



    Be diligent in following up on your accounts. In the months following an incident, order new copies of

    your reports to verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has

    occurred.
If you find that any accounts have been tampered with or opened fraudulently, close them immediately.

To ensure that you do not become responsible for any debts or charges, use the ID Theft Affidavit Form

developed by the Federal Trade Commission to help make your case with creditors.



NOTE: If you have not reviewed your credit report before, you may see some inaccurate information or

fraudulent activity that existed prior to any recent, suspected identity fraud.



Step 2: Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened

fraudulently

Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company with which you are

closing an account. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. It's

important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return

receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your

correspondence and enclosures.



If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or on fraudulently opened accounts, ask

the company for the forms to dispute those transactions:



For charges and debits on existing accounts, ask the representative to send you the company's fraud

dispute forms. If the company doesn't have special forms, use the sample letter to dispute the fraudulent

charges or debits. In either case, write to the company at the address given for "billing inquiries," NOT the

address for sending your payments.



For new unauthorized accounts, ask if the company accepts the ID Theft Affidavit (PDF, 56 KB). If not, ask

the representative to send you the company's fraud dispute forms. If the company already has reported

these accounts or debts on your credit report, dispute this fraudulent information. See Correcting

Fraudulent Information in Credit Reports to learn how.



Step 3: File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity

theft took place
It is important to report identity theft to your local police as soon as you become aware of being a victim.

Get a copy of the police report. You may need copies of the police report when notifying creditors. If the

police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incidents" report, or try another

jurisdiction, like your state police. You also can check with your state Attorney General's office to find out

if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone

directory for the phone number or check www.naag.org for a list of state Attorneys General.



Step 4: Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline

If you are the victim of a stolen Social Security number, the SSA can provide information on how to report

the fraudulent use of your number and how to correct your earnings record. We encourage you to contact

the Fraud Hotline immediately once you suspect identity theft. The web site also provides tips on using

and securing your Social Security number. Visit the SSA web site for advice on keeping your number safe.


Social Security Administration
SSA Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271
http://www.ssa.gov




Step 5. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help

law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer

victims' complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate

companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.



You can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form; or call the FTC's Identity Theft

Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write Identity Theft

Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.



Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
Resources



Maryland Attorney General's Office -- "Identity Theft: What to Do if It Happens to You"



Federal Trade Commission Links



Your National Resource about Identity Theft



Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft



How Not to Get Hooked by a 'Phishing' Scam



Fraud.Org's Internet Fraud Tips



Social Security Administration Identity Theft Page




Information on this page was collected primarily from the Federal Trade Commission's web site, Your

National Resource about Identity Theft.

				
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