|Identity theft - fraud information|
|Identity Theft Prevention and Solutions|
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Preventing Identity Theft
This issue alone is reason to order your credit report immediately. Identity theft is an insidious crime, involving a thief who assumes your name to open new accounts, divert your card statements to another address, and run up all sorts of bad debt without you ever knowing about it until collectors come calling. Over time, identity theft could jeopardize your ability to obtain further credit. The best way to catch a thief who is using your name is by getting a copy of your credit report, which will show you if there are accounts listed you know you haven't opened. For example, if a thief has intercepted a pre-approved credit card offer in your name and sent it in with a change of address, your credit report will include the account.
Check your credit report frequently!
What to do if you are a victim of identity fraud
It is important that you act quickly if you suspect you are a victim of identity fraud. In addition to reporting your identity theft to the following agencies, you may want to start a log of your efforts to protect yourself. This information could prove invaluable later in proving you are not responsible for false debts or even crimes. Suggested items to record:
Steps to follow:
1. Contact the authorities. Report the crime to all police and sheriff's departments with jurisdiction in your case. Credit card companies and banks may require you to show the report in order to convince them of your innocence, and if they don't believe you, they may hold you responsible for bounced checks, charges made in your name, etc. If you can get it, it is an important piece of documentation.
Give the police/sheriff's department as much documented evidence as possible, and get a copy of your police report. Make sure to take note of your detective's, or the official taking the report or handling your case's direct phone number. It will make it easier for creditors/banks to carry out their own investigation.
Some police departments have been known to refuse to write reports on such crimes. In a report issued by the FTC based on the identity theft hotline it set up (see below), the police took reports in 67% of the cases. If you can't get them to take a report, at least document your call and who you spoke with.
The FTC now has a toll-free number:
Identity Theft Toll-Free Hotline - 877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338):
In addition, the FTC has come up with an affidavit for the consumer to fill out and send to the following agencies, companies and organizations that accept or endorse the ID Theft Affidavit:.
2. Pull your
If accounts have been opened up in your name, contact the creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently. Credit card companies have whole departments which handle nothing
3. Put a fraud
alert on your credit report.
Official toll free phone numbers
P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013
Fax: (800) 301-7196
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
If your credit report has already been damaged (inquiries you did not make, accounts you did not open have been placed on your report), you may either place a fraud alert on your report, or dispute the listing. For items you cannot immediately remove, you may want to ask the credit bureaus to change the status of disputed accounts to disputed If you feel a listing is not correct you can either address a letter to the credit bureau or the lender. Many people prefer to use a credit repair kits or services to correct incorrect listings on their credit reports.
4. If your
credit cards were stolen, call your creditors!
Important Note: Ask that old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." This is better than "card lost or stolen" because when this statement is reported to credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss If you feel a listing is not correct you can either address a letter to the credit bureau or the lender. Many people prefer to use a credit repair kits or services to correct incorrect listings on their credit reports. I suggest you check out credit repair
Finally, carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity, in case your thief comes back to haunt you.
5. If your
checks were stolen, notify your banks!
What is ChexSystems?
6. If your ATM
card was stolen, order a new one!
change of address.
8. If Social
Security Number has been misused
You may also be facing the possibility that someone is using your SSN number for employment to avoid paying taxes. To ensure this is not happening, you may order a copy of your Earnings and Benefits Statement and check it for accuracy.
9. Notify the
charges made in your name
11. If your
Drivers License Number has been misused
|Preventing Identity Theft Tips|
|Cancel unused credit cards
(cutting them up is not enough)
Donít carry your Social Security card, passport or birth certificate with you, except when necessary.
Shred all credit card receipts and solicitations, canceled checks and financial documents before throwing away.
Check your credit card statements and immediately report unauthorized purchases.
Donít give out your Social Security number, motherís maiden name, or any account information over the phone, unless you are sure the caller is legitimate.
Order credit reports once a year from one of the credit-reporting agencies: Equifax 800-525-6285; Experian 800-301-7195; Trans Union 800-680-7289.
Have your name removed from lists sold to companies offering pre-approved credit cards by calling one of the credit agencies above.
Never include your Social Security number on personal checks.
Do not allow sales clerks to copy your credit card numbers on to checks for additional information.
Call your credit card company if your card has expired and you have not received a new one.
Carry only a few credit cards with you.
Never write down Personal Identification Numbers (P I N #'s) and passwords: memorize them. Do not use any part of your Social Security number, your name or any easy to guess words or sequences.
Only release your Social Security number when absolutely necessary. If a business requests it for identification, ask to have an alternative number used.
Install a locked mailbox at your residence.
Do not leave paid bills in your mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up.
When you order new checks, do not have them sent to your home mailbox. Pick them up at the bank instead.
Check your credit report frequently! Get a free copy of your credit report right now aboutmycredit.com
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