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ID Theft Protection Kit - Equifax


									ID Theft Protection Kit

Congratulations. You’ve taken
a big step in protecting the power
of your credit ... and your identity.

Identity theft is a serious crime — and it can be very    opportunities or been turned down for mortgages or
difficult to prevent. Victims can spend months or years   car loans. But now, you have a useful tool to minimize
and thousands of dollars to clean up the mess these       the impact identity theft can have on your life. Keep
thieves have made of their good names — and their         reading for information on how to protect your identity
credit. In some cases, victims have lost job              and what to do if you become a victim.
                                     1.0      Identity Theft Basics
                                              I: What is Identity Theft?
                                              II: Seven Steps You Can Take to Protect
                                                   Against the Impact of Identity Theft.
                                              III: What to Do if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft.
                                              IV: Victim’s Rights.

                                     2.0      List of Resources
                                              Where to Turn in the Event That You Become
                                              a Victim of Identity Theft.

                                     3.0      Latest Trends in Identity Theft
                                              Phishing and Pharming — Don't get hooked!

Equifax Dedicated Customer Support   •     1-800-4EQUIFAX    •    24 Hours a Day     •   7 Days a Week
1.0            Identity Theft Basics

I I. What Is Identity Theft?                      I
                                                      Establishing phone or cellular service        I II. Seven Important Steps You
                                                      in your name.                                   Can Take to Protect Against the
Identity theft occurs when someone steals         I
                                                      Opening a bank account in your name
your personal information — to take over              and writing bad checks on the account.          Impact of Identity Theft
your credit accounts, open new ones, take         I
                                                      Counterfeiting checks or debit cards          According to the 2005 Javelin Identity Fraud
out a loan, rent an apartment, access bank            and draining your bank account.               Survey Report, when the victims know the
accounts, or commit many other crimes             I
                                                      Buying cars by taking out auto loans in       identity and method used by the criminal,
using your identity. When it strikes, the             your name.                                    they report that these crimes are more
effects can be devastating. What’s more,          I
                                                      Calling your credit card issuer and           frequently committed offline than online.
because it frequently involves no physical            pretending to be you, changing the            Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent
theft, identity theft may not be noticed by its       address on the account, requesting            identity theft and credit fraud entirely. But
victims until significant damage has been             new cards be issued and the credit            by managing your personal information
done — often, several months and                      limit increased. Bills get sent to the        carefully, and with a full understanding of
thousands of dollars later.                           new address, so you don’t realize             its importance, you can substantially reduce

I How Do Thieves Do It?
                                                      there’s a problem until you check             the likelihood that it will happen to you. The
                                                      your credit report.                           following tips show you how:
First, they steal your personal information by…       Filing for bankruptcy using your name
                                                      to avoid paying debts they've incurred        1. Monitor your credit report.
    Going through your mail or trash, looking
                                                      under your name.                              Checking your credit report can help you
    for bank and credit card statements,
    pre-approved credit offers, and tax                                                             catch fraud before it wreaks havoc on your
    information.                                  The latest identity theft statistics.             personal finances. Make sure your report is
    Stealing personal information from your         9,000,000+: The number of ID Theft              accurate and includes only those activities
    wallet or purse such as identification,         victims last year                               you can explain.
    credit, or bank cards.                          $50 billion: Cost to businesses and
    Completing change-of-address forms to           victims annually                                It’s also a good idea to review your credit
    redirect your mail.                             28%: Identity theft committed by credit         report from each of the three major credit
    Acquiring personal information you share        card fraud                                      reporting agencies every year — it’s possible
    on unsecured sites on the Internet.             635,000: Number of consumer fraud and           that information is reported to one but not
    Buying personal information about you           ID theft complaints made to the Federal         the others.
    from an inside source — for example,            Trade Commission in 2004
    a store employee that gets your                 5th consecutive year that identity theft        Think about monitoring your credit like
    information from a credit application           has been the top consumer complaint             having a smoke detector in your home.
    or by “skimming” your credit card               reported to the FTC                             It’s not something you turn on once in a
    information when you make a purchase.           61%: Percentage of ID theft victims who         while; you keep it on, knowing it will alert
    Getting your personnel records at work.         did not notify the police                       you to potential problems. This is especially
                                                                                                    important given the amount of and speed
Then they use your personal information by…       Sources: Federal Trade Commission, California     at which personal information is exchanged
                                                  Department of Consumer Affairs                    today. Enrolling in a credit monitoring
    Opening new credit card accounts using
                                                                                                    product like Equifax Credit Watch™ Gold
    your name, date of birth and Social
                                                                                                    takes the worry out of monitoring your
    Security Number. Then when they use
                                                                                                    credit file — by notifying you within 24 hours
    the credit cards and don’t pay the bills,
                                                                                                    of key changes that could be the early
    the delinquency is reported on your
                                                                                                    warning signs of identity theft.
    credit report.

Equifax Dedicated Customer Support                         •     1-800-4EQUIFAX            •      24 Hours a Day          •     7 Days a Week
1.0            Identity Theft Basics (continued)

2. Be careful when giving personal information.   6. Safeguard personal information in your home.     Check your credit report.
Whether on the phone, by mail or on the           Especially if you are having service work           Get your credit report and check for any
Internet, never give anyone your credit card      done in your home, employ outside help or           new accounts opened in your name.
number, Social Security Number or other           have a roommate. Find out who has access            Because new accounts may take up to
personal information for a purpose you            to your information at work. Be sure to verify      six months to show up on the report,
don’t understand. Ask to use other types of       that records are kept in a secure location,         continue to monitor your credit report.
identifiers when possible, and don’t carry        and are accessible only to employees who            Review a 3-in-1 Credit Report and see your
your Social Security card. Be sure to keep it     have a legitimate reason to access it.              credit history as reported to the three major
in a secure place.                                                                                    credit reporting agencies.
                                                  7. Be smart about passwords and PINs.
3. Protect your documents and mail.               Memorize your passwords and personal                Contact any of the credit reporting agencies.
To stop a thief from going through your           identification numbers instead of carrying          Contact any one of the three major credit
trash or recycling bin to get your personal       them with you. Avoid using easily available         reporting agencies and request that a fraud
information, tear or shred your charge            information like your mother’s maiden               alert be placed on your credit file.
receipts, credit applications, insurance          name, your birth date, the last four digits of
forms, bank statements, expired charge            your Social Security Number or your phone           Subscribe to a credit monitoring product.
cards and pre-approved credit offers.             number, or a series of consecutive numbers.         These products monitor activity in your
Deposit outgoing mail in post office
                                                  I III. What to Do If You Are a
                                                                                                      credit file. When there are changes to key
collection boxes or at your local post office.                                                        information, like when someone tries to get
Promptly remove mail from your mailbox              Victim of Identity Theft                          credit in your name, you receive an alert.
after it’s delivered. If you plan to go away,                                                         You can then investigate the change to
call the U.S. Postal Service at 800-275-8777      If you suspect that someone has used your
                                                                                                      make sure it is not the result of identity
or go to and request a               name, Social Security Number or other
                                                                                                      theft or fraud.
vacation hold on your mail delivery.              personal information to get credit or a loan,
                                                  the following information can help you.
                                                                                                      Visit to learn more about
4. Guard your credit cards.                                                                           Equifax Credit Watch™ products.
                                                  Keep a record.
Minimize the information and the number of
cards you carry in your wallet. Don’t keep        Because recovering from identity theft
PINs or other credit card access codes with       can be a long and complicated process,
your credit card. If you lose a card, contact     it’s important to keep a record of all
the fraud division of the credit card             communications. Send all letters by
company. If you apply for a new credit card       certified mail and keep copies. If you think
and it doesn’t arrive in a reasonable period,     your case might lead to a lawsuit, keep track
contact the issuer. Watch cashiers when you       of how much time you spend dealing with
give them your card for a purchase. Also,         the problem.
when you receive a new card, sign it in
permanent ink and activate it immediately.        Call the police.
                                                  Report the crime to the police or sheriff’s
5. Pay attention to billing cycles.               department that has jurisdiction in your case
Contact lenders immediately if your bills         and request a police report. Though the
arrive late. A missing bill could mean an         authorities may be limited in what they can
identity thief has taken over your credit card    do to help, a report may be necessary to
account and changed your billing address.         help convince lenders that someone else
                                                  has opened an account in your name.

Equifax Dedicated Customer Support                         •       1-800-4EQUIFAX           •       24 Hours a Day         •      7 Days a Week
1.0             Identity Theft Basics (continued)

I IV. Victims’ Rights
                                                                                                         I Customer Testimonial
                                                    consumer reporting companies, visit
                                          , call toll-free
If you have been a victim of identity theft,        877-322-8228, or complete the Annual
you have rights. Here is a brief summary of         Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:           I was at an Orlando Magic game when it
the rights designed to help you recover from        Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O.           all started. I received a call on my wireless
identity theft.                                     Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.                  phone from a man who identified himself
                                                                                                         as a customer service representative from
Fraud Alerts.
                                                    Fraudulent Information.                              my wireless provider.
You have the right to ask that the major
credit reporting agencies place a “fraud            You have the right to obtain documents               He verified all of my appropriate account
alert” in your file to let potential creditors      relating to fraudulent transactions or               information, and then told me I needed
and others know that you may be a victim of         accounts opened using your personal                  to provide an updated credit card due to
identity theft. There are two types of fraud        information. A creditor or other business            recent changes on the account. I gave
alerts: an initial fraud alert that lasts for 90    must give you copies of applications and             him a current credit card, and even
days, and an extended fraud alert that lasts        other business records relating to                   thanked him for his professional service.
for 7 years. You can place an initial fraud         transactions and accounts that resulted
alert on your Equifax credit file 24 hours a        from the theft of your identity, if you ask for      It turns out that the “customer care
day, 7 days a week by calling our auto fraud        them in writing. A business may ask you for          representative” that called me was
line at 1-888-766-0008 and following the            proof of your identity, a police report and an       actually an identity thief who stole my
prompts. Once placed with Equifax, the              affidavit before giving you the documents.           mail earlier the previous day — which
other two major credit reporting agencies,                                                               included my wireless bill. He then used
Experian and TransUnion, will be notified as        Credit Reporting.                                    my wireless account information and
well. You may place an extended 7-year              You also may prevent businesses from                 credit card to open a new line of credit
alert by writing to Equifax or one of the other     reporting information about you to                   and ordered over $5,000 in merchandise.
nationwide credit reporting companies and           consumer reporting agencies if you believe           Thanks to Equifax Credit Watch, I was
providing an Identity Theft Report, as well as      the information is a result of identity theft.       alerted to this activity within 24 hours
a day and evening telephone number. The             To do so, you must send your request to              and able to respond with speed and
requirements for an Identity Theft Report are       the address specified by the business that           focus — an arrest was even made! More
listed on the FTC’s website at         reports the information to the consumer              important to me, my financial status and
The extended alert removes your name from           reporting agency. The business will expect           good name had been protected.
pre-screened offers of credit for 5 years.          you to identify what information you do
                                                    not want reported and to provide an                  I can’t imagine not having Equifax Credit
Equifax Fraud Alert                                 identity theft report.                               Watch keeping an eye on my credit for
Phone Number 1-888-766-0008                                                                              me — and I don’t even want to think
                                                    Credit Agencies.                                     about what would have happened
Credit Report.                                      If you believe information in your file results      without it. The constant monitoring
You have the right to free copies of the            from identity theft, you have the right to ask       and speed at which it delivers alerts
information in your file (your “file                that a consumer reporting agency block that          offers me a great deal of comfort — we
disclosure”). An initial fraud alert entitles you   information from your file. An identity thief        even got my wife signed up for added
to a copy of all the information in your file at    may run up bills in your name and not pay            security. Thanks, Equifax!
each of the three nationwide agencies, and          them. Information about the unpaid bills
an extended alert entitles you to two free file     may appear on your credit report. Should                       Justin H. — 30
disclosures in a 12-month period following          you decide to ask a consumer reporting                         Consultant
the placing of the alert. You can obtain your       agency to block the reporting of this                          Atlanta, GA
free fraud alert credit file disclosure from        information, you must identify the
Equifax at                    information to block and provide the
You also have a right to obtain a free copy         consumer reporting agency with proof of
of your credit report once every 12 months          your identity
from each of the major nationwide consumer          and a copy of your identity theft report.
reporting companies. To order your free
annual report from one or all the national

Equifax Dedicated Customer Support                          •      1-800-4EQUIFAX              •      24 Hours a Day          •      7 Days a Week
2.0          List of Resources

  I      Helpful Resources
         There are a number of additional services available
         if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft.

  I Credit Reporting Bureaus                                        I Other Resources

                                                                    Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
                                                                    The FTC offers information for victims. File your case with the FTC
  P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348                                Consumer Response Center. Include your police report number.
  Report fraud: Call (800) 525-6285 and write to address above.     Use the FTC uniform affidavit form. (877) IDTHEFT (877-438-4338)
  Order credit report: (800) 685-1111
  Web:                                              Web:

  Experian (formerly TRW)                                           Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline
  P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013                                    800-269-0271
  Report fraud: Call (888) EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) and write to
  address above.                                                    If you want to know more about identity theft and credit fraud, the
  Order credit report: (888) EXPERIAN                               following nonprofit Web sites are excellent sources of information
  Web:                                             and additional contact information.

  TransUnion                                                        US Government’s Web site for identity theft
  P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834                      
  Report fraud: (800) 680-7289 and write to address above.
  Order credit report: (800) 888-4213                               FTC consumer complaint form
  Web:                                 $.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU03

                                                                    US Department of Justice:

                                                                    Social Security Administration/Office of the
                                                                    Inspector General fraud Web site

                                                                    US Secret Service: What to do if you’re a victim
                                                                    of identity theft

Equifax Dedicated Customer Support                      •     1-800-4EQUIFAX       •     24 Hours a Day           •     7 Days a Week
3.0           Latest Trends in Identity Theft

I Phishing and Pharming
                                                                                                      I Customer Testimonial
                                                 Be wary with your personal information.
Not surprisingly, as consumers become            This may seem like a no-brainer, but the
more informed on ways to protect                 fact is that many Americans fall prey to
                                                 phishing scams each year. Be suspicious of           It was tax season, and I had committed to
themselves from identity theft, crooks
                                                 e-mails asking for personal information —            getting mine done early, but was getting
are finding new ways to gain access to
                                                 even if they appear to be from a credible            frustrated when my W2 form was late to
their personal information. Some new
                                                 source. If you have any doubts, contact the          arrive. My frustration turned to worry after
tactics that identity thieves are using
                                                 company directly.                                    days went by without my W2 showing up
include the practices commonly referred
                                                                                                      — even though I knew others around the
to as “phishing” and “pharming.” Phishing
                                                 Monitor your credit file.                            office had already received theirs. My
(the practice of sending e-mails from what
                                                                                                      worry turned to panic after I confirmed
appears to be a bank or other trusted            Activity on any one of your three credit files
                                                                                                      my W2 was sent weeks ago, yet I never
Internet site to steal personal information)     could be one of the first indicators of fraud,
                                                                                                      received it in the mail.
and pharming (when a Web site user is            which is why you should actively monitor
misdirected to a fraudulent site because         your credit file throughout the year. Regularly
                                                                                                      My job has made me actually aware of
of an Internet worm or virus) are quickly        checking your credit file ensures you know
                                                                                                      identity theft — and the devastating
becoming popular methods among identity          exactly what’s being reported about you.
                                                                                                      effects of becoming a victim. So
thieves. Following are steps you can take to     With the Equifax 3-in-1 Credit Report, you’ll
                                                                                                      believing someone had stolen my
help protect yourself from becoming a victim:    see a complete, line-by-line comparison of
                                                                                                      personal information had left me feeling
                                                 your credit history as it’s reported to each of
                                                                                                      vulnerable and worried all the time. I had
Protect your computer.                           the three major credit reporting companies
                                                                                                      remembered that checking my credit
Viruses and worms are rampant on the             in one easy-to-read report.
                                                                                                      report was one of the best ways to detect
Internet, so keep your anti-virus software                                                            identity theft, so I visited Equifax Credit
up-to-date. Use caution when downloading                                                              Watch. With Equifax Credit Watch, I was
information, and be sure you know that the                                                            able to see my credit report instantly
source is credible. When downloading e-mail                                                           online, which immediately reduced my
attachments, perform a virus scan first — even                                                        stress level knowing no unauthorized
if you know the person who sent it to you.                                                            activity had taken place. And having the
                                                                                                      constant automated monitoring of my
                                                                                                      credit report along with email alerts
                                                                                                      within 24 hours of key changes to it has
                                                                                                      been an enormous relief to me.

                                                                                                      While I’ve yet to receive any alerts
                                                                                                      notifying me of unauthorized activity on
                                                                                                      my report, the monthly “no news is good
                                                                                                      news” message lets me know that
                                                                                                      Equifax Credit Watch is continually
                                                                                                      protecting me. I can now focus on more
                                                                                                      important things in my life while feeling
                                                                                                      more secure. That’s a huge benefit to
                                                                                                      me. Thanks, Equifax!

                                                                                                                Mark H. – 33
                                                                                                                Supervisor Criminal Records
                                                                                                                Santa Barbara, CA

Equifax Dedicated Customer Support                        •     1-800-4EQUIFAX             •       24 Hours a Day          •     7 Days a Week

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