How to protect yourself
and what to do should it happen to you
Kathryn Greiner and Beth Blanco
University of Michigan Credit Union
(734) 662-8200 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Identity Theft?
Identity Theft occurs when your
personal information such as
name, social security number,
driver’s license number or other
personal data is stolen to obtain
credit, merchandise or services
in your name.
Common ways identity theft
Lost or stolen wallet or purse
Family members, questionable friends,
neighbors or coworkers
Personal data stolen from business
ID Theft Crimes
Opening new Setting up a cell
bank accounts phone account
and writing bad Renting an
checks apartment and
Obtaining avoiding the rent
personal or car payments
Getting cash employment
Latest trends in identity theft
Person with a camera-equipped cell phone
snaps pictures of your critical information.
“Phishing” on the internet with a pop-up on
a legitimate web site that directs you to a
bogus site asking to “verify” or “update”
Contact the place of business directly, if
this should happen.
E-mail spamming, and spy ware
Identity thieves using your medical
insurance information to obtain services
How consumers become aware of
Missing money or discovering an
unfamiliar transaction on their statement
Credit card issuer calls to question
unusual spending activity
Missing credit cards or checkbook
Denied utility service
You are the key to prevention
Pay attention: are there bills or other mail
you have not received this month?
Follow up if you receive a letter of denial
for credit and haven’t applied for anything.
Get detailed information on any collection
calls about accounts that you did not open
or have not been using.
Call about any credit cards you receive that
you didn’t apply for.
Protect personal information
Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place.
Carry only the credit cards and ID you will
need when you go out.
Save all purchase receipts and check
them against statements each month:
Shred sensitive documents.
Keep information safe at home by
investing in a locking file cabinet or
If you don’t keep your statements, keep
a list of creditors, their telephone
numbers and your account numbers in
the safe area in case of credit card theft.
Remove your mail promptly from your
Mail outgoing mail in post office
collection boxes instead of from your
Consider renting a Post Office box,
especially if traveling frequently.
Even better ideas
Opt out of offers to reduce mail and
Opting out of credit card offers call
Reduce unsolicited mail-
http://dmaconsumers.org or write to them
at Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box
643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643
National Do Not Call Registry 888-382-1222,
Use an antivirus or firewall software, such
as http://lavasoft.com. Ad-aware SE
personal is free and can be downloaded
from their site
Utilize Pop-up blockers, for example
http//www.mozilla.com. There is a link to
download firefox which is also free
Create a password to log into your
Do not carry your Social
Memorize the number
Give out your SSN only when necessary.
Your employer and financial institution
will need it for tax reporting purposes.
You also need it when
applying for credit
renting an apartment
signing up for utilities
Questions if someone asks you for
your Social Security number
Why do you need it?
How will my Social Security number be
How do you protect my SSN from being
What will happen if I don’t give you my
Social Security number? (Will I be
provided with the service?)
Active Military Personnel
Place an “active
duty” alert on your
Safe Credit Card Use
Offer no personal information to
merchants when using a credit card.
If you have “see photo ID” on the back of
your card, do not allow information to be
written down or photocopied.
Do not give out your credit card number
over the phone to anyone you don’t know
or did not call yourself.
Be cautious about mail or phone
Identity thieves may create something that
Immediately change the marital status
linked to your credit card should you
Caution when using checks
Don’t put the entire account number on
memo line of check
Consider using your initials instead of
your name on your checks
Never put your SSN on your checks
Use a P.O. Box or work address and
phone number on your checks
When ordering checks, pick them up at
the financial institution instead of having
Don’t use your Don’t use your pet’s
Mother’s maiden name
name Don’t use your
Don’t use consecutive children’s or spouse’s
letters or numbers name or a nickname
(ABCD or 1234) Don’t use your
Don’t use your phone wedding anniversary
number or SSN DO use letters and
Don’t use your or numbers in the same
family’s birthdates password, it is harder
for computer hackers
Look at your credit report every
12 months at no charge
Write to Annual Report Request Service,
P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You may also request one at no charge if
you have been denied credit, insurance or
employment within the last 60 days
More Credit Report Info
You may purchase your report if you
would like another copy or want your
score from TransUnion, Equifax, or
Verify all of your information is correct-
name(s), addresses, employment, etc.
Make corrections where needed with
TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian
Identity Theft Victims:
Place a fraud alert on your credit report. Call ONE
of the three consumer reporting agencies, who
will contact the other two.
Equifax- 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com,
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian- 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
www.experian.com, P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX
www.transunion.com, Fraud Victim Assistance
Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-
Close accounts that have been
First call and speak with someone in the
fraud or security department.
Ask them if they accept the ID Theft
Affidavit. If not ask them to send you their
Follow up with a letter.
Send it certified mail with return receipt
requested, for proof they received it.
Close tampered accounts continued..
To dispute charges on existing accounts,
ask the company to send you the
company’s fraud dispute form or send
them a letter.
Close bank accounts that have been
Request the company send you
documentation when the issue has been
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Rights
1. You have the right to ask the nationwide
consumer reporting agencies to place “fraud
alerts in your file”.
2. You have the right to free copies of the
information in your file.
3. You have the right to obtain documents relating
to fraudulent transactions made or accounts
opened using your information.
More FCRA Rights….
4. You have the right to obtain information from
a debt collector.
5. If you believe information in your file results
from identity theft, you have a right to ask that
a consumer reporting agency block that
information from your file.
6. You may also prevent businesses from
reporting information about you to consumer
reporting agencies if information is a result of
File a report with your local police
Get a copy of the report.
If the authorities are unwilling or
reluctant to file a police report, then ask
to file a “Miscellaneous Incidents”
report, or try another jurisdiction, like
the county or state police.
Michigan law gives you the right to file
a police report for identity theft. See if
that is also true in your state.
Get help from MI Attorney
In Michigan, the Attorney General’s
office will get involved if a company or
collection agency insists on pursuing a
debt after all of the other steps have
File a complaint with the Federal
Call them at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
TTY 1-866-653-4261 (for the hearing
Write to them at Identity Theft
Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington
If your mail is stolen
Contact the Post Office- Postal Inspection
On line at
Fill out PS Form 2016 Mail theft and
If your social security number has
Online at www.socialsecurity.gov
Call them at 1-800-269-0271
Write to the Social Security Administration
Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD
You may be able to get a new social security
number (you cannot if you have filed for
bankruptcy, are trying to avoid legal
responsibility or if there is not adequate
evidence of ID theft.)
If your checks are lost or stolen
Call your financial institution
Next call whichever check clearing
company used by your financial inst.
Chex Systems- 800-428-9623
Certegy Check Systems- 800-437-5120
Check Center- 800-843-0760
International Check Service- 800-526-5380
Check Fraud Services
A company that puts out national alerts to
financial institutions, government, and law
enforcement agencies for stolen checks
and other ID theft issues
National Check Fraud Service
Internet Fraud Complaint Center-
U.S. Secret Service-
Detroit branch of Secret Service-
Department of Justice-
Tips for organizing your case
Write down the name of everyone you
talk to what they tell you to do, and the
date of the conversation.
Follow up with everyone in writing
Keep copies of all the correspondence
that you send
Tips for organizing your case
Keep the originals of the supporting
documents, like police reports and
letters to and from creditors
Set up a filing system and keep old files
in case anything crops up
Download the Identity Theft workshop
handout for sample letters to credit
bureaus and creditors.