Identity Theft Protection

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1 Identity Theft Protection Learning Objectives Discuss the aspects of identity theft Discuss the signs of recognizing when your identify has been stolen Understand the steps to take to reclaim your identity once it has been stolen Identify ways of protecting yourself from becoming a victim What is Identity Theft? Unlawfully obtaining another individual s personal information including: Name Address Date of birth Social security number Mother s maiden name Health insurance information Bank accounts/credit cards Using another individual s information to commit fraud or other crimes 1

2 Impacts of Identity Theft Once your identity has been stolen, thieves can: Open new credit cards Change your mailing address Take out loans Deplete your bank accounts File bankruptcy in your name Use your name if caught committing a crime Establish phone/utility services in your name Thieves Can Access Your Information in a Number of Ways Your information can be obtained by: 1. Stealing credit/debit card numbers, wallets, and purses 2. Stealing your mail and/or breaking into your home 3. Rummaging through your trash for information 4. Falsely completing a Change of Address Form 5. Phone and online scams How to Detect that Your Identity Has Been Stolen Failure to receive bills or other mail Unknown credit cards opened in your name Unknown charges to an existing credit card or bank account(s) Rejection when attempting to open a new line of credit Calls from debt collectors or companies Unexpected activity with your driver s license 2

3 Recovering Your Identity Once it Has Been Stolen The sooner you take action the better! Remain patient and take a systematic approach. Track your efforts (include dates and names of representatives) Keep copies of all documents and correspondence Store documentation in a safe, accessible place Help From Creditors, Financial Institutions, and Others Contact your financial institutions IMMEDIATELY Ask for fraudulent transaction documentation Document in writing that you are a victim of identity theft Place stop payments on any outstanding checks that you did not write and/or stop payment on the account Report the crime right away and file a police report Notify your postal inspector Obtain a credit report from each major credit bureau Request a fraud alert be entered on your file Credit Reporting Bureaus Equifax (800) (credit report line) (888) (fraud report line) Experian (888) (credit report line) (888) (fraud report line) TransUnion (800) (credit report line) (800) (fraud report line) 3

4 Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) Fair Credit Billing Act Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Electronic Fund Transfer Act Protecting Yourself Check your credit at least annually Selectively provide personal information Keep personal information in a safe and secure place Place a mail stop if you will be away for an extended period of time Remove mail from your mailbox promptly Protecting Yourself Be aware of security procedures at work, online, etc. Never have your social security or driver s license numbers printed on checks Keep and carry only the credit/debit cards you need Shred all statements and cancel all unused cards Keep photocopies of the front and back of all of your credit cards Be aware of your surroundings when at the ATM Read your statement and know your billing cycles 4

5 Protecting Yourself Keep track of bank statements and checkbooks at all times Update virus protection on your computer regularly and use a browser with security and firewall protection Do not download information from unknown senders Enter personal information online only when the site is locked Avoid using laptops or smartphones for storage of personal/financial information Your EAP Services at a Glance Telephone and crisis counseling 24-7, 365 Face-to-face or telephone based short term counseling Professional referrals to community resources as needed Legal and financial services and referrals Eldercare/Childcare assistance and referrals Take the Highroad Program - $45 max reimbursement Employee and supervisor training seminars Unlimited Crisis Intervention Services (CISD) Enhanced website with interactive will preparation, identity monitoring, monthly newsletters, and more.. Thank You Questions? 5

6 Works Cited IndependentTravelor.com. (n.d.). 11 Ways to prevent identity theft while traveling. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from The Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). Identity theft. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from The United States Department of Justice. (2015, June 22). What are identity theft and identity fraud? Retrieved July 28, 2015, from 6

7 Identity Theft: The Basics Identity theft is a crime in which someone steals key pieces of your personal information. This could include your Social Security number, driver's license number, bank account information, and so on. The thief will then use that information to impersonate you and can commit identity fraud, which is when someone uses your information to open bank accounts and lines of credit in your name. Thieves can steal your information in a number of ways. Some of the common ways your information can be compromised are Having your purse or wallet stolen Throwing sensitive information in the trash Internet phishing scams scams Computer viruses If your information is stolen, you become at risk for fraudulent events occurring. Some common things thieves do are Opening a new bank or credit card in your name Taking out loans in your name Using your information for a job or medical treatment Submitting false taxes Providing your name if they are arrested Be cautious and guard your identity. Here are some tips. Don't carry your Social Security card with you. Carry only the credit and debit cards that you need. Always shred any personal documents like credit offers, receipts, credit applications, checks, bank statements, physician statements, and so on. Question organizations that ask that you share your information with them when doing business. Be sure you understand why they need it and how they will safeguard it. Lock up your sensitive information in a safe at home or in a drawer while at work. Review your credit reports annually. If someone is calling you and asking you for personal information over the phone, don't give it out. If the person claims to be someone from your bank or other financial institution, ask for a number and call the person back. Be sure to look this number up to see if it is legitimate. Change your electronic and online passwords frequently. If you are a victim of identity theft, take immediate steps to lessen the damage. There are three main steps. 1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Start by calling just one of the major credit bureaus; it will alert the other two. Placing an alert is free and will last for 90 days, after which the alert can be renewed. When you do this, businesses must take

8 extra steps to verify your identity when you open an account with them. This will make it much more difficult for a thief to open a new account in your name. 2. Order your credit reports. After you have placed a fraud alert, you are entitled to a free report from each of the major credit bureaus. Review these line by line to see if there is information showing on your credit reports that should not be there. Immediately dispute the errors that are found. If you know what accounts have been tampered with, contact those companies and speak with their fraud departments directly. 3. Create an identity theft report with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To submit an identity theft report, visit the FTC's Web site at https://www.ftc.gov/ or call Once you have finished reporting the theft, be sure to print off or get a copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit. Take this document when you file a police report. Get a copy of the police report that is filed and store that with your Identity Theft Affidavit. These two documents together will be your identify theft report. Now that you have completed the immediate steps to take, it's time to repair the damage. This can be done by placing extended fraud alerts and credit freezes on your credit reports and by disputing errors. Placing Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes If you have created an identity theft report, you can place an extended fraud alert by contacting all three credit bureaus and requesting one. The alert will last for 7 years. A credit freeze will make it so that no one can review your credit reports until you lift the freeze. There will often be a fee to place this freeze, and the fees will vary by state. The length of freeze can vary by state as well. Check with your state attorney general's office to see if fees are allowed and how long a freeze can last. Disputing Errors If mistakes are found when you review your credit reports, you can send letters explaining the mistakes to the three credit bureaus and the businesses involved. Explain you are a victim of identity theft, list the errors, include copies of documents showing the errors, and ask the credit bureau to remove any fraudulent information. The credit bureau must investigate your dispute and report back to you with the results. If there are errors on your accounts at a particular business, you should dispute these as well. It is a good idea to change your passwords or PINs with those accounts. Call the business's fraud department and report the fraud. Ask if the business needs a copy of your identity theft report of if it has its own dispute forms. Write to the fraud department as well. Be sure to address in the letter that you are a victim of identity theft and you have found errors. Send documents that show the error, copies of the identity theft reports, and a credit report with the errors highlighted. For additional security, you should black out other information on the credit report. Ask the business to remove fraudulent information and

9 to send you a letter confirming that it has removed the information. The business has 30 days to investigate this dispute. If there were fraudulent accounts opened in your name, you should call the institution, explain what happened, close the accounts, and ask if the institution will accept your identity theft report or if it needs its own forms filled out. Send this information and have the institution respond confirming that the account was not yours, that you are not liable for it, and that it was removed from your credit report. Keep this letter for your records. Blocking Information From Your Credit Report This process is different from disputing fraudulent information since anyone can dispute errors or inaccuracies on his or her credit report. However, if you have an identity theft report and have been a victim, you can request that the credit bureaus and businesses block the disputed information from appearing on your credit reports. To communicate this to the credit bureaus you will want to do so in writing. Pick one of the bureaus and send a copy of your identity theft report, proof of identity, explanation of the fraudulent information on your credit reports, and ask them to block the fraudulent information. If a credit bureau accepts your request it must contact the business that is sending the fraudulent information. Once this happens, a business must stop reporting that information to all credit bureaus, and it cannot sell or transfer that debt for collection. You will want to also communicate to the business in writing with the same steps above. Workplace Options. (2015). Identity theft: The basics (A. Moyer, Ed.). Raleigh, NC: Author. Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.

10 Consumer Rights: Identity Theft Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. People whose identities have been stolen can spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. They may lose out on job opportunities or be denied loans for education, housing, or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. They may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit. The potential for damage, loss, and stress is considerable. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft. While there is no guaranteed way to avoid identity theft, you can minimize your risk and minimize the damage if a problem occurs. Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your personal information. Detect suspicious activity by always monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. Defend against identity (ID) theft as soon as you suspect a problem. Deter. Deter identity thieves by protecting your personal information. Shred paperwork and financial documents with personal information before you discard them. Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Ask to use another identifier; give your Social Security number out only if absolutely necessary. Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house. Never click on links sent in unsolicited s; instead, type in a Web address you know is the real thing. Some computer programs "hijack" you to a look-alike page to try to get you to give your personal information. Use firewalls, antispyware, and antivirus software to protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date. Don't use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Detect. Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. Look for charges you didn't make or authorize. Inspect your credit report to make sure all the information is accurate and up-to-date. It's your right to request a free credit report every year. Visit Call (877) Write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box , Atlanta, GA Defend. Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it. Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently. File a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime. Report the theft to the FTC at or (877) ID-THEFT ( ). Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.

11 How ID Theft Can Happen Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information, including: 1. Dumpster Diving They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it. 2. Skimming: They steal credit or debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card. 3. Phishing They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and spam or send pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information. 4. Changing Your Address They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form. 5. "Old-Fashioned" Stealing They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; preapproved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from their employers or bribe employees who have access. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Response Center. (n.d.). Managing your finances: Credit. In Read up! How to be an informed consumer. Pages Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved November 4, 2010, from Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation. Content ID: 35282

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