Warning Signs of Identity Theft
Many times the warning signs for identity theft are not obvious. Some things to watch for:
- Your monthly credit card and bank statements stop arriving.
- You are denied credit for no apparent reason.
- You start getting bills from companies you do not recognize.
- Collection agencies start trying to collect on bills you do not owe.
Protect Your Personal Information
- Never carry your Social Security Card, birth certificate or passport unless necessary.
- Do not put your telephone number, drivers license number or address on a credit card sales receipt.
- Social Security numbers or phone numbers should not be put on checks.
- Identifying information should not be given over the phone or Internet to someone you do not know or on a cellular or cordless phone.
- Shred all personal documents before placing them in the trash.
- Get a credit report from the three national credit reporting agencies every year.
- Keep your financial records out of site.
- Check monthly credit card statements for charges you did not make.
- Keep a list, in a safe place, of all credit cards and bank accounts including the account numbers, expiration dates and phone numbers.
- Do not use your mothers maiden name as a password for accounts.
- Carry only the credit cards you plan to use.
- Shred financial or confidential information such as credit card pre-approvals, receipts etc.
- Unless your mailbox is secure, mail payments at the Post Office and pick up new checks at the bank.
- If you are not interested in pre-approved credit card offers, opt-out by calling 1-888-5-opt-out.
What to do if you become a victim
Be sure to keep records of all correspondence with creditors and government agencies you contact. Include the date and name of contact. Follow up all telephone contacts with a letter and keep a copy.
Notify all creditors and financial institutions, in writing and by phone, that your name and accounts have been used without your permission.
Local Law Enforcement
Immediately file a police or identity theft report with your local police. Provide them with as much documentation as possible. Get a copy of the report. This may be required by credit card companies, banks or credit reporting agencies.
Federal Law Enforcement
Report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from consumers and stores them in a secure online database called the Consumer Sentinel that is available to law enforcement agencies worldwide.
Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20580
Credit Reporting Agencies
Contact the fraud unit at one of the three national credit reporting agencies. They will notify the other agencies. Have a fraud alert put on your credit report to prevent new fraudulent accounts from being opened. Keep track of when the alert expires.
As an ID fraud victim, you are entitled to free copies of your credit report. Ask the three national agencies for a copy of your credit report every three months.
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
Information provide by Call For Action, VISA, and CBM Credit Education Foundation, Inc.
Identity Theft Protection Products
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