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ID Theft
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What is ID Theft? 
"The 1990's spawned a new variety of crooks called identity thieves. Their stock in trade are your everyday transactions. Each transaction requires you to share personal information: your bank and credit card account numbers; your income; your Social Security number (SSN); and your name, address and phone numbers. An identity thief co-opts some piece of your personal information and appropriates it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. An all-too-common example is when an identity thief uses your personal information to open a credit card account in your name." 
         -- from 

Here are some ways that identity thieves work: 

  • They open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. 
  • They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there's a problem. 
  • They establish cellular phone service in your name. 
  • They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account. 
What to do if ID Theft happens to you? 
  • Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and report that your identity has been stolen. Ask that a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval. 
  • For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the security departments of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions. Close these accounts. Put passwords (not your mother’s maiden name) on any new accounts you open. 
  • File a report with your local police or the police where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime later on. 
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (877-438-4338) 
Recently the FTC took steps to standardize the fraud declaration reports that victims file with banks and creditors. The ID Theft Affidavit,  is designed to dispute an account falsely opened in your name. While some creditors and financial institutions may require additional or different paperwork, many of them accept this form, which will definitely save you time. It's wise however, to contact your creditors and financial institutions individually regarding their requirements before filling out the form. The FTC also has on online Identity Theft Complaint Form and a hotline (1-877-IDTHEFT) to guide you through the process. 

Contact the Social Security Number (SSN) Fraud Hotline (800-269-0271) 
If you believe someone has gained access to your social security number, notify the hotline immediately. 

Unfortunately, victims of ID theft may be conducting damage control on their credit reports long after the original crime. However, by following these steps you may be able to reclaim your identity and preserve your long-term credit. 

Tips to help keep your ID safe: 

  • Protect your account numbers. If you didn't place the telephone call or initiate an Internet transaction, do not give out financial information such as your bank account numbers, credit card numbers or your social security number. 
  • If you receive a new shipment of blank checks in the mail, make sure you account for all check numbers, and secure your new and cancelled checks in a safe place. 
  • Protect your ATM or check card PIN (personal identification number). Don't leave ATM receipts lying around, and never write your PIN number on the back of the card.
  • Review your bank and credit card statements regularly for any unauthorized charges. Remember, awareness is the best defense against fraud.
  • Shred financial solicitations that arrive in your mailbox as well as your old financial documents before discarding them. Those seemingly useless documents could be used to apply for a credit card and run up a hefty bill. To reduce the amount of junk mail solicitations you get click here.
  • Drop bill payments and other financial correspondence in a secure, official postal service collection box. Don't use a mailbox that anyone walking by can get into.
  • Order copies of your credit report once a year. Not only is it good to have, but staying current will help you manage your credit rating.
  • Get in the habit of looking for the yellow padlock or key icon on your web browser before making an online purchase. Some sites even contain seals from organizations like the Better Business Bureau or VeriSign to demonstrate their security.
  • Don't open e-mail from unknown sources and use virus detection software. 
Credit Bureaus
Phone:  800-685-1111 
Fraud:  800-525-6285 
   P.O. Box 740241 
   Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 
Phone:  800-916-8800 
Fraud:  800-680-7289 
   P. O. 34012 
   Fullerton, CA 92834 
Phone:  888-397-3742 
Fraud:  800-311-4769 
   PO Box 9556 
   Allen, TX 75013 
A new law enables consumers to request their free credit reports through a central web site, toll-free telephone line, or by mail and gives them the option of making a single request to get copies of their report from all three major credit bureaus. Consumers can order their credit reports by clicking on, calling 877-322-8228, or filling out the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. 
Important Web Links
Identity Theft Clearinghouse - the U.S. government's central website for information about identity theft. (Start with this site!

If you've been a victim of ID theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline. 

By phone: 
Toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); 
TDD: 202-326-2502 

By mail: 
Identity Theft Clearinghouse 
Federal Trade Commission 
600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW 
Washington, DC 20580 

ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen To Your Good Name - an excellent publication by the FTC about identity theft, how to avoid it, and what to do if it happens to you. 
Department of Justice on ID Theft and Fraud 
ID Theft Resource Center - a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and implementing a comprehensive program against identity theft -- in supporting victims of identity theft, broadening public awareness and understanding of identity theft, and decreasing the potential victim population. 
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - a nonprofit consumer education, research, and advocacy program. Their publications empower you to take action to control your personal information by providing practical tips on privacy protection. 
Identity Theft: Prevention & Survival - companion website to a resource packet & book about ID Theft. - information brochure regarding consumer privacy rights.
Reduce Direct Marketing Exposure
You can opt-out of direct mail credit card offers by having your name and address removed from mailing lists obtained from the main consumer credit reporting agencies:  TransUnion, Experian, Equifax, and Innovis. Just call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688), Opt Out Online, or write to the following address (be sure to include your full name, current address, Social Security number and telephone number): 
TransUnion LLC's 
Name Removal Option 
P.O. Box 97328 
Jackson, MS 39288-7328 
Equifax, Inc 
P.O. Box 740241 
Atlanta, GA 30374
Consumer Services 
901 West Bond 
Lincoln, NE 68521
If you would like to reduce the amount of advertising mail and phone calls you receive from companies, you can contact the following agencies: 
For advertising received by mail: 
Mail Preference Service 
c/o Direct Marketing Association 
P.O. Box 9008 
Farmingdale, NY 11735
For advertising received by telephone: 
Telephone Preference Service 
c/o Direct Marketing Association 
P.O. Box 9014 
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Be sure to include complete information about each name, address, telephone number and email address you would like excluded from these lists. 

The BEST way to reduce those annoying phone calls from telemarketers is to register your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry which is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency. 

To reduce the amount of unsolicited e-mail you receive at home, visit, and fill out the registration form to have your email address removed from direct marketing lists. 


Advertising Privacy Issues
The Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising -

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Last updated: 6/13/2014