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Identity Theft........What is it?

Identity theft is becoming an increasingly common form of thievery in this technology age. An identity thief takes some piece of your personal information and uses it without your knowledge to commit fraud. This is a very serious crime and can cost you considerable time and money in cleaning up the mess thieves have created.

Identity Theft........Who can I contact if it happens to me?

Contact your local law enforcement as soon as possible. They can provide you with immediate assistance and help you in the process. We also want you to have the following phone number and website to aid you if this does happen to you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Hotline toll free number is 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).

You can also visit the FTC website at www.idtheft.gov.

The hotline and website give you one place to report the theft to the federal government and give you helpful information. The FTC puts your information into a secure consumer fraud database where it can be used to help other law enforcement agencies and private entities in their investigations and victim assistance.

Identity Theft........How do they get my information?

  • They steal your wallets or purses that contain your identification and credit and bank card information ----- Do not carry your SSN card , leave it in a secure place.

  • They steal your mail, including your bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks and tax information.

  • They complete a “change of address form” to divert you mail to another location.

  • They rummage through you trash, or the trash of businesses, for personal data in a practice known as “dumpster diving.”

  • They fraudulently obtain your credit report by posing as a landlord, employer or someone else who may have a legitimate need for, and legal right to, the information.

  • They find personal information in your home.

  • They use personal information you share on the Internet.

  • They scam you, often through email, by posing as legitimate companies or government agencies you do business with.

  • They get your information from the workplace in a practice known as business record theft” by: stealing files out of offices where you’re a customer, employee, patient or student: bribing an employee who has access to your files; or ‘hacking’ into electronic files.


Identity Theft........How can I minimize my risk?

Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Make sure that the information on the report is accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized. By law, credit bureaus can charge you no more than $9 for a copy of your credit report. Repeat this process at least once a year. Credit Bureau information is as follows:

Equifax – www.equifax.com
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111
To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write:

Equifax
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian – www.experian.com
To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:

Experian
PO Box 9532
Allen TX 75013

Transunion – www.transunion.com
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213
To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 or write:

Fraud Victim Assistance Department
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790


For the accounts that you have at a bank, credit card company and phone company, ask to place a password on those accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or as series of consecutive numbers. Use a password instead.

Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.

Ask about information security procedures in your workplace Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that records are kept in a secure location. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well.

Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or are sure you know who you’re dealing with. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs) and even government agencies to get you to reveal your SSN, your bank account information and other identifying information.

Guard you mail and trash from theft. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you’re planning to be away from home and can’t pick up your mail, request a vacation hold from your post office. To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you are discarding and credit offers you get in the mail.

Do not carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place. Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.

Carry only identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you’ll actually need.

Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.

Always protect your private information as best you can.

   
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