Identity Theft

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What type of information is valuable to a thief? 

Name 
Social Security Number 
Date of Birth 
Address 
Driver’s License 
Financial Account Numbers or Cards 
Passwords (mother’s maiden name, father’s middle name) 
Telephone numbers 
Biometric data 

How can I tell if I may be a victim of identity theft? (Not every mail or I.D. theft results in damages) 

• Monitor balances of financial accounts. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals. 

• Failing to receive bills, bank statements, or other mail. Mail may have been stolen or diverted by a change of address filed at the post office. 
• Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply. 
• Denial of credit for no apparent reason, especially if you have never been denied credit. 
• Receiving calls from debt collectors or about merchandise or services you didn’t buy. 

What should I do if I find out I am a victim of I.D. theft? 

Step One: Stop Imposter Activity (Someone assumes an identity for credit, benefits, services).

• Get a copy of your credit report from at least one of the three nationwide credit bureaus by phone but follow up the request in writing. Ask that a fraud alert be posted on your credit report. (Lasts 90 days initially; an extension is available, but may require a copy of an I.D. theft report to law enforcement and possibly a fee). For a free annual report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com  (Fare Credit Report Act) 
• Request one report from each agency below every four months or so to maximize coverage, i.e. Equifax in January, Experian in June, and Trans Union in October. To opt out of pre-approved offers of credit, call 1-888-567-8688. 
• Review the entire report for accounts you didn’t open or any unexplained debts or inquiries on your credit report. Highlight entries that you dispute and send a letter with a highlighted copy to the reporting agency to correct within 4 business days. 

 

Credit Reporting Agencies

Experian – 
www.experian.com/identity_fraud/index.html 
1-888-397-3742 
P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013 

TransUnion – 
www.transunion.com/corporate/personal/fraudIdentityTheft.page 
1-800-680-7289 (Fraud Victim Assistance Division) 
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790 

• Close or renumber all business/creditors accounts by asking the issuer to promptly clear your credit record, then follow-up this request up in writing. Speak directly with the security or fraud department, NOT an account representative. Do this within 30-60 days to avoid being held liable for false charges. Corrections must be done by the business within four business days. 
• Consider a credit freeze which requires a written request to credit reporting agencies and possibly fees, but nobody can apply for new credit, including you. 

Step Two: Report the Crime to the Federal Trade Commission & Local Law Enforcement.

• Make an online report to the Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov/idtheft  or call 877-438-4338 or TDD (202)326-2502. Complete an ID Theft Affidavit available in English or Spanish. Print it, sign it and keep it for future use. If calling, ask that an a ID Theft Affidavit to be mailed to you. Filing this with the FTC does NOT substitute for a report to local law enforcement. The FTC cannot take action on behalf of individuals. FTC is a resource for I.D. theft recovery, protection, & fraud www.consumer.gov/idtheft .

• Contact your local police, sheriff or other law enforcement where you live to file a report. Provide a copy of the highlighted fraudulent activity on the credit report, or on any credit card or bank statements, false signatures on receipts or application forms, collection letters, and the FTC ID Theft Affidavit. Get a copy of the police report for your records. 

Other federal agencies may also become involved in the investigation for I.D. theft. The websites for these agencies are: 

Social Security Administration – 
www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html 
1-800-269-0271 

The Internal Revenue Service – 
www.irs.gov/advocate/ 
1-877-777-4778 (Taxpayer Advocate) 

The U.S. Department of Justice – 
www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html 

Step Three: Repair the Damage - On average it takes 18 months to two years to clear credit. 

• Keep a log of all phone calls and attempts to clear up I.D. theft. Include date, time, and the person you spoke with by phone and then follow up in writing. 
• File disputes of fraudulent activity with credit reporting bureaus and ask that disputed items be blocked or removed from your credit report. (Must be done within four business days) Notify the FTC if credit bureaus fail to block disputed items from your credit report. 
• Contact companies where fraud or impostor accounts were opened. 
• Send a written dispute to the fraud department along with a copy of the ID Theft Affidavit, police report, and proof of your identity 
• Close or freeze these accounts. Request a confirmation letter that these accounts are closed or frozen 
• Request copies of account information, applications, and other related business records 

Companies must comply with a request within 30 days at no cost or a subpoena. A copy can also be sent to the law enforcement agency handling the investigation upon your request. (The Right to Obtain Documents - FCRA section 609(e). 
An impostor can use personal information to obtain credit, employment, social security, medical services, IRS refunds or even avoid criminal arrest or action.