What is Identity Theft? How to Prevent ID Theft

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1 What is Identity Theft? Actually, there are several types; Financial, Medical, Criminal, Synthetic, and Child. All involve the acquisition of key pieces of someone s identifying information, such as; name, address, date of birth, social security number, and mother s maiden name, in order to obtain goods or services or for criminal purposes. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud which include, but are not limited to; taking over the victim s identity, financial accounts, opening new accounts, obtaining health care, purchasing automobiles, applying for loans, credit cards, or social security benefits, renting apartments, and establishing service with utility or telephone companies. How to Prevent ID Theft Lock your mail box Promptly remove mail after delivery Never leave outgoing mail in a mailbox overnight Only deposit mail inside the Post Office or in Post Office collection boxes before the last pickup time Pick up your checks from the bank If you receive noticeably less mail than usual, contact the post office Alert your bank to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity Ongoing vigilance will reduce your risk Shred everything that has your personal information on it; use a cross cut type shredder only, the kind that cuts the paper up into little pieces. Have yourself removed from marketing lists Freeze your credit files, you will be contacted if anyone tries to open credit in your name or access your files Monitor your records regularly.

2 Important Papers and Documents Keep credit cards, social security cards, birth/death certificates, and all other important documents in a secure location. Do not carry anything in your wallet or purse that is not absolutely necessary Memorize your social security number, never carry it with you Memorize all passwords and pin numbers, keep them private Shred all documents before throwing away if they have your name on them and an account number, social security number, or other personal /financial information. This includes credit card or bank statements and anything that came in the mail, like those pre-approved applications. Use a cross-cut type shredder, it cuts everything into small pieces If you are applying for a loan, purchasing a vehicle, house, or other major purchase and decide not to proceed with it; take all the paperwork, applications, and loan documents with you and shred them Medical Records Ask to review your medical records, from all medical providers; family physician, hospital, and urgent care facilities. Make sure that all treatment, medications, and allergy information is accurate and up to date. Check you families records also. If anyone received medical treatment under your name, it could cost more than a little time and money to repair; it could cost you your life. Life threatening conditions, such as allergies to medications or life saving treatments could be withheld due to erroneous records. Synthetic This is the latest thing in the ID theft world. The thief will take parts of information from many victims and combine it. The new identity isn t any specific person, but all the victims can be affected when it s used. It will show up in the areas above, so look to those sections for additional information.

3 Children The majority of children in our society have already obtained a Social Security Number. One is needed for banking, passports, and any number of other functions. This makes our children a big target of ID thieves. A child won t be looking at their credit until they are well into their teens and this is want the thief is counting on. So, by the time the theft is discovered, several years have passed and the criminal is long gone. Telephone Safety Beware of telephone, mail, or solicitations disguised as promotions offering instant prizes or awards. Also beware of anyone identifying themselves as a representative of a legitimate business or government agency, then asking you for your social security number, mother s maiden name, pin numbers, or passwords. If they are legitimate, they will not ask for personal information. If you have an established account at that business, they will already have your personal information on file. Ask the person for their name and job title; then call the business back. Verify that person is employed at the business. You cannot verify anyone s identity 100% over the telephone or computer. Credit Cards Sign all new credit cards upon receipt. Not doing so will invalidate your contract. You can also write SEE ID or ASK FOR PICTURE ID on the back of your card and the clerk should verify who is using your card. Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bill Be conscious of monthly billing or routine financial statements. Contact the company if they are not received. Notify your credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any changes of address or phone number Never loan your credit card to anyone If you have applied for a new credit card, or you are due for a new replacement card, and it has not arrived in a timely manner or prior to the expiration date, contact the bank or Credit Card Company. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately

4 Internet Safety Use caution when disclosing checking account numbers, credit card numbers, or other personal financial information at any website or on-line service location unless you receive a secured authentication. When you enter any interactive service site, beware of con artists who ask you to confirm your enrollment by giving them your passwords or the credit card account number used when you subscribed to them. Never give them out. Make a List Keep a complete list of all your financial accounts in a safe place. This way, you can easily access them in an emergency. Include account numbers, expiration dates, contact addresses, telephone numbers, and the web site address. Also include your bank name, account numbers, addresses and telephone numbers for all accounts. You should be receiving a yearly statement from social security, if you have not received one, contact them and request one be sent to you. Verify that all of the information is correct and that your earning are correctly recorded Review Credit Information Now Request copies of your credit reports from one of the credit reporting agencies Every time you apply for credit, a loan, open a utilities account, or rent something, a credit check is run on you. By requesting a copy, you can confirm that you are the only person that made theses requests. You are entitled to one free report per year, per reporting agency. One per year is generally sufficient unless you have been the victim of id theft, otherwise request one quarterly. Even if you have to pay for a copy, it is well worth the expense to protect yourself. The names and contact information for the three major credit reporting agencies are: EQUIFAX: P.O. BOX , ATLANTA, GA TO ORDER A CREDIT REPORT TO REPORT FRAUD TO HAVE YOUR NAME REMOVED FROM THEIR MARKETING LIST(S)

5 EXPERIAN: P.O. BOX 949, ALLEN, TX TO ORDER A CREDIT REPORT TO REPORT FRAUD TO HAVE YOUR NAME REMOVED FROM THEIR MARKETING LIST(S) TRANS UNION: P.O. BOX 1000, CHESTER, PA TO ORDER CREDIT REPORTS TO REPORT FRAUD TO HAVE YOUR NAME REMOVED FROM THEIR MARKETING LIST(S) If You Become a Victim Request a change of Pin Number and/or change your password. It is recommended that you change these on a regular basis, every 3-6 months. You may need to close all bank/credit card accounts and open new ones Make a police report immediately, if the crimes occurred in multiple jurisdictions, you may need to make several reports. Setup a folder, keep a detailed history of the crime, log all contacts, including date and time of contact and keep copies of all documents. Get a copy of the report; it is generally available in business days from the date of the report. Contact all creditors by phone and in writing Notify the U.S. Postal Inspector if your mail has been tampered with or stolen. By phone or online at Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the problem at IDTHEFT or online at Notify the fraud units of all three credit bureaus to report the identity theft. Have a Fraud Alert/Victim Impact statement placed in your credit file

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