1 Get a handle on your personal credit profile Obtain a free credit report for you & spouse from each of the 3 major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) , or (immediate access), or Annual Credit Report Request Form (www.ftc.gov/credit), and mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box Atlanta, GA Stagger requests once every 4 months Schedule a reminder in your calendar/blackberry Once you have obtained your free credit reports: Identify and verify all credit information Possible unknown a/c s, judgments, etc. Close all dormant and/or unnecessary a/c s Contact credit card co., and advise them to note acct. closed at customer s request credit score issues Consider placing a Fraud Alert with credit bureaus (90 days, or 7 years) for both you and your spouse What s In Your Wallet? Let s take a quick inventory of personal information contents: Multiple Credit Cards? Driver s License? Health Insurance ID Card? Store Receipts?
2 Automobile Registration and/or Auto Insurance Card? Frequent Flyer Card? Social Security Card? Telephone Numbers of Family/Friends? Password Cheat Sheet Card? Make a complete photocopy of everything (front and back) in both spouses wallet/purse Important contact info. in the event of lost or stolen wallet/purse Store in secure location, other than safe deposit box, for access when needed (possibly on a Sunday) Maintain password protected info on PDA? Treat your mail very carefully Contact the USPS to request a vacation hold (3-30 days, & free of charge) Never place outgoing mail in personal mailbox with flag up Red flag on mailbox = green light for ID thieves!!! Deposit at local post office or USPS collection box Consider purchasing a locking mailbox Immediately follow up with creditors, banks, etc. if you don t receive your monthly statements as scheduled Consider eliminating paper credit card and bank statements and converting to E-Statements and online bill payment Minimizes possibility of stolen mail Minimizes need to shred sensitive documents Visit your bank's, credit card issuer's or creditor's web site(s) frequently to monitor regular account activity Treat your trash very carefully
3 One Man s Trash is Another Man s Treasure Purchase a confetti-cut shredder Destroy all sensitive information, including convenience checks and preapproved credit offers from credit card co s, insurance information, monthly statements, etc. Clean Out Your Glove Compartment Avoid the mobile filing cabinet (i.e. old bills, credit card receipts, etc). If you left your car unlocked and someone got inside, how much personal information about you could they discover? Beware of Pretext Phone Calls (both individual and business) The easiest way for a thief to steal your identity is to simply ask you for it. An Identity Thief may call you on the telephone, posing as your bank, your insurance company, or your doctor's office. Before you know it, he/she has obtained key pieces of personal information from you. Make your information less accessible to identity thieves by doing the following: - Remove your name from the pre-approved credit card lists of the 3 credit bureaus (EQUIFAX, EXPERIAN, AND TRANSUNION) by taking advantage of their OPT-OUT service - Call OPTOUT [(888) ], which reaches all 3 major credit bureaus - Make your information less accessible to identity thieves by doing the following: - Remove your name from commercial marketing databases by contacting: - DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY Make your information less accessible to identity thieves by doing the following: - Remove your name from commercial marketing databases by registering your telephone number with the NATIONAL DO NOT CALL REGISTRY: - or
4 - Your registration will not expire. Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008 Do not sign up for unfamiliar contests or sweepstakes. Information you provide could be sold and reproduced hundreds of times. Only list your name and number, without your address, in your telephone book. You may also consider having your number unpublished, or listed in your (spouse s) maiden name. Prevention re: Credit Cards - Examine your credit card statements like an obsessed accountant - Review more frequently (weekly) online - Be familiar with credit card statement closing dates - Reconcile account at least monthly - Have picture placed on back of credit card, if available - Print PHOTO ID REQUIRED or SEE MY ID in signature block instead of signing - Still not effective with some merchants due to automation (i.e. self check-out, card readers) - Request, via telephone and/or in writing, that each of your credit card companies remove your name from any marketing and promotional lists that they may sell or share with other companies - If any of your credit card companies send unsolicited convenience checks to you, request that you be removed from their mailing list for these checks - Destroy (cut up) expired or closed account credit cards before throwing away - Only include the last 4 digits of your credit card account number on the memo line of your monthly payment check - Carry only the credit cards you need (1 or 2 max) Prevention re: Bank Acct s - Be familiar with checking/savings account statement closing dates - Reconcile account at least monthly, reviewing all cancelled checks, other debits to account
5 - Again, review more frequently (weekly) online - Have picture placed on back of debit/atm card, if available - Print PHOTO ID REQUIRED or SEE MY ID in signature block instead of signing - Only include name at top of checks - Never include SSN, DOB, telephone # - Merchant may ask for driver s license to note other personal identifiers, including address - Refuse to add (especially SSN) if requested by merchants - they will back down before refusing sale Always arrange to have new checkbooks mailed to local bank branch versus home mailbox - Boxes of new checks obvious to identity thieves Shield your hand when entering your ATM password. Someone may be watching with binoculars or a telephoto lens Never keep your ATM password in your wallet or purse - memorize it Prevention re: SSN Protect your Social Security number - Should have a new VA driver s license containing a T number versus your SSN (VA law as of 7/1/02) - Never carry documents containing your SSN (Medicare cards unfortunately still contain SSN) - Never give your SSN to anyone by telephone, unless you initiated the call to a known entity - Avoid having your SSN used for ID s at work if possible - Question merchants who request your SSN Prevention re: Internet - If they insist, may want to take your business elsewhere Avoid being hooked by Phishing scams - What is phishing?
6 - "Phishing" is a term coined by computer hackers, who use to fish the Internet hoping to hook you into giving them your logins, passwords and/or credit card information - Do not reply to or pop-up messages that ask for personal identifying information - Do not click on links within messages either - When in doubt, contact financial institution directly via known website address or known telephone # Only conduct personal business on secure websites https://www.mybank.com - Also check for secure area padlock icon Maintain up-to-date anti-virus, firewall, and spyware software - Old saying YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR Buyer beware when purchasing items via online auction sites - Use secure payment systems, or credit card (for dispute protection) - Never purchase with money orders or cash - Consider maintaining one credit card earmarked for internet purchases only Use a dummy account - Free accounts are available - If it gets bombed with spam, you can drop it and start over - Reserve your primary for family & friends Change your login ID s and passwords - Many sites utilize your SSN or a/c # as a login ID default Don't Set Your System to "Remember My Password - Avoid the temptation only saves you a few seconds, but could cost you dearly, especially in event of stolen laptop - Remember Passwords - Don't Write Them Down - Passwords are hard to remember, and most of us are guilty of writing them down, and taping them to the underside of keyboards or under the mouse pad or carry them in a
7 laptop case, or put them in a wallet or purse. Thieves know this, and these are the first places they look. Avoid using common computers for sensitive personal business - Online bill payment, checking investment accts., etc. on internet cafés while at work, on vacation, business trips, or in public libraries If you must, be sure to clean up after yourself - Delete cookies, delete files, and clear history before leaving computer Facebook Security - Limit the amount of personal information available on your Facebook profile (e.g. DOB, address, etc.) - Proactively manage your Facebook privacy settings (e.g. select Friends Only ) - Only accept friend requests from people you know - Limit the amount of "time and place" data that you expose through Facebook - Remember that even people you know can be identity thieves Romance Scams - Thieves monitor chat rooms, dating, and social networking sites for victims - Victims are usually over 40, divorced, widowed, or disabled - Scammers create fictitious profiles with pictures of attractive women or men - After gaining victim s trust, ask for money - Out of country business trip emergency - Cashier s checks (counterfeit), converted to cash, and wired to online lover - Agree to meet in person, then end up kidnapped, extorted, or even killed Action Steps For Identity Theft Victims Contact all creditors and financial institutions to inform them of the fraud, and cancel cards and accounts - If your checks are stolen or have been counterfeited, contact the major check verification companies to notify retailers not to accept checks from your compromised a/c:
8 - TeleCheck: To find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks in your name, call: - SCAN: Action Steps For Identity Theft Victims Contact each of the 3 major credit bureau fraud units to report the identity theft, and add a fraud alert statement to your credit file: - Equifax: ; - Experian: ; - TransUnion: ; Contact law enforcement immediately, and maintain copy of police report - Local Police, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Social Security Admin., FBI, and/or USSS File a complaint with the FTC - or 877-ID-THEFT Keep detailed notes of all conversations!!! Resources - Names, dates, times, discussion points, etc. Websites with helpful Identity Theft Information: - Richmond ID Theft Task Force - - Federal Trade Commission - Internet Fraud Complaint Center - Frank Abagnale - Better Business Bureau - U.S. Postal Inspection Service - FBI - SSA/OIG
9 Top 10 Immediate Action Steps Homework! 1. Go to and order your 1 st credit history. Set yourself a reminder to repeat every 4 months (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). 2. Go to to place your telephone numbers on national do not call registry. 3. Go to to opt out of pre-approved credit card offers for yourself and spouse. 4. Go to to manage (reduce/eliminate) direct mail offers (catalog, magazine, and other merchant offers). 5. Go to to place a 90 day fraud alert tag on your credit report. 6. Call each of your credit card companies (# on back of card) and tell them to stop mailing convenience checks to you. 7. Purchase a confetti-cut shredder, and use it regularly. 8. Review/reconcile your bank and credit card statements. 9. Avoid sweepstakes and other sign-up offers. 10. Photocopy and/or compile detailed list of all purse/wallet contents. Top 3 Takeaways 1. Minimize, Minimize, Minimize 2. Control Your Mailbox Exposure (Incoming and Outgoing) 3. Monitor
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