Identity Theft
published by AAA Fair Credit Foundation
Identity Theft
1. What is identity theft? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...
What is Identity Theft?
Nearly 10 million people fall victim to identity
theft each year, costing consumers $5 billion in
...
How Do I Know if I Have Been a Victim?

How Do Identity Thieves Obtain My Information?
There are many ways in which thieve...
It’s Happened to Me, What do I do Now?
First, don’t panic. Even though this is a
serious situation, you will accomplish
mo...
The following charts describe the
current fraud alert and victim statement
placement procedures of the credit
bureaus. Ple...
How can I Prevent Identity Theft from
Happening to Me?
5

As with any crime, you can’t guarantee
that you will never be a ...
What Should I do if I Know the Person Who
Stole My Identity?
•	
Pay

attention to your billing cycles.
Follow up with cred...
What is Child Identity Theft?
7

This is a fairly new crime about which
little documented evidence exists. This
crime occu...
Identity Theft – A Quiz for Consumers
9

Identity thieves use numerous methods
to gain access to your personal financial i...
7.	 If the volume of mail I receive at
home substantially decreases, I always
check with my local post office to see if
an...
Notes

consumer cents
IDENTITY THEFT
NOTES

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IdentIty Theft - ConsumerCents

  1. 1. Identity Theft published by AAA Fair Credit Foundation
  2. 2. Identity Theft 1. What is identity theft? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2. How do identity thieves obtain my information? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 3. How do I know if I have been a victim? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 4. It’s happened to me, what do I do now? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 5. How can I keep identity theft from happening to me?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 6. What should I do if I know the person who stole my identity?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 7. What is child identity theft?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 8. Where to get more information. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 9. Take our “Identity Theft – A Quiz for Consumers”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
  3. 3. What is Identity Theft? Nearly 10 million people fall victim to identity theft each year, costing consumers $5 billion in out-of-pocket losses and businesses $48 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), bank and credit card accounts, driver’s license or any other identifying information without your knowledge to commit fraud and/or other crimes. 1 The average ID theft victim spends about 600 hours trying to clear up credit problems, according to The Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit group based in San Diego. Identity theft is a Federal Crime under Federal Law: 18 U.S.C. 1028 “The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence act of 1998.” This act established that persons who have their identity stolen are, in fact, victims of a crime and thus allows law enforcement agencies the jurisdiction to investigate and combat these criminal offenses. Don’t let it happen to you… take our Identity Theft Quiz in section 9 to see if you are putting yourself at risk. There are many motives compelling thieves to commit identity related crimes. The biggest reason is for personal financial gain; however, there is a steady increase in the instances of thieves obtaining false identities in order to immigrate illegally or avoid arrest. Additional resources and legislation information for identity theft are listed in section 8. consumer cents consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT IDENTITY THEFT W H AT I S I D T H E F T ? 2 3 www.consumercents.com
  4. 4. How Do I Know if I Have Been a Victim? How Do Identity Thieves Obtain My Information? There are many ways in which thieves obtain the information of their victims. Some of the most common practices include: 2 • “Dumpster Diving” – Going through your trash searching for personal information you have thrown away. • Stealing information from your place of work. • “Skimming” – Stealing credit card account numbers by using special information storage devices. • Stealing the details from your credit card while processing a transaction. • Stealing your mail. Most people are unaware they have fallen victim to identity theft until after the damaging effects have taken place. Usually this occurs when someone is denied new credit or they receive invoices for purchases they didn’t make. You have to constantly be vigilant and monitor all your personal information in order to identify any fraudulent activity as early as possible: 3 • Diverting your mail to a different address/location. • Obtaining a copy of your credit report by fraudulent means • Stealing from your home. • “Pretexting” – Obtaining information directly from you by posing as an “official” and asking you personal questions. Popular scams under this method include sending out emails allegedly from your bank asking you to confirm your banking details. • Monitor your balances on your bank and credit card accounts. • • Investigate if you begin to receive collection calls from creditors about accounts you did not open or charges/purchases you did not make. • Investigate if you are denied credit for no apparent reason. • Review your reports from all 3 credit bureaus on a regular basis to identify any unexpected changes and correct any mistakes. Investigate if you stop receiving bills. • Investigate if you receive credit cards for which you have not applied. • Taking photos of your credit card with their camera phones. consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT consumer cents HOW DO IDENTITY IDENTITY THEFT T H I E V E S O B TA I N M Y H ow do I k now if I I N F O R M AT I O N ? ha v e b een a v ictim ? 4 5 www.consumercents.com
  5. 5. It’s Happened to Me, What do I do Now? First, don’t panic. Even though this is a serious situation, you will accomplish more in less time by staying calm. Next, gather all the information you have about the fraudulent activity committed against you, and start a file for retaining any information about the activity, evidence you have, and actions you take. Finally, report the identity theft to all the agencies listed below as soon as possible. You must always report identity theft. 4 THE POLICE You MUST report identity theft to the police and obtain a copy of your police report. As a victim of identity theft, you have protection under the law if you make a police report. If there’s no police report, there’s no protection – simple as that. Also, if you do not make a report, it could be viewed later that you knew about the fraudulent activity and did nothing to stop it. consumer cents FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS Notify all your financial institutions by phone and follow up with a registered letter, keeping a copy for your records. Your bank will want a copy of the police report, so you may want to include that with your registered letter. If your bank information has been tampered with, you may want to close those accounts and re-open them under new numbers. Most banks are experienced in dealing with the aftermath of identity theft and should help you make changes as easy on you as possible. CREDIT BUREAUS FRAUD ALERTS Notify all the credit bureaus with a phone call and follow up with a registered letter, keeping a copy for your records. Again, credit bureaus will want a copy of the police report so consider including this in your registered letter. The contact information for the three major credit bureaus is: 6 Let creditors know that fraud has been associated with your credit report. As a result, creditors may confirm that they’re dealing with you and not an imposter before granting credit or other services. This will mean you must go through more screening than normal when you conduct your own, valid business with your creditors. Remember, that while this may be cumbersome, it is for your own protection and worth the extra effort. Equifax - www.equifax.com call: 800-685-1111 or write: P Box 740241 .O. Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 Experian - www.experian.com call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write: P Box 2002, Allen TX 75013 .O. Trans Union - www.transunion.com call: 800-888-4213 or write: P Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022 .O. VICTIM STATEMENTS A Victim Statement is a statement you make to the credit bureaus that alerts creditors and potential creditors about the fraudulent activity committed against you. This tells creditors to contact you before granting credit or other services in your name. Victim statements may cause delays in getting credit while the creditor tries to contact you. If you have a cell phone, you may want to include that number in your statement. consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT IDENTITY THEFT I t ’ s H appened to M e , I t ’ s H appened to M e , W hat do I do N ow ? W hat do I do N ow ? 6 7 www.consumercents.com
  6. 6. The following charts describe the current fraud alert and victim statement placement procedures of the credit bureaus. Please note: TransUnion and Equifax use a combined fraud alert and victim statement. Be sure to confirm these procedures when you contact the credit bureaus as they may change. NOTIFYING OTHER IMPORTANT IDENTITY THEFT AFFIDAVIT ORGANIZATIONS 7 The FTC, in conjunction with banks, credit grantors and consumer advocates, developed the ID Theft Affidavit, a copy of which can be found at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ federallaws.html, to help you close unauthorized accounts and get rid of debts wrongfully attributed to your name. In addition to the police, financial institutions and credit bureaus, it is also a good idea to notify the following organizations: • Your phone company (both home phone and cell providers) Initial Alert Credit Bureau Period of Initial Coverage Can You Request an Alert Online? TransUnion 12 Months No 6 Months No Yes Experian 3 Month Fraud Alert Yes Utilities provider(s) Yes, can be provided online • The US mail. This will help prevent any fraudulent re-direction of your mail. Renewals • Period of Renewal Coverage Is a Free Credit Report Provided? TransUnion 12 Months or 7 Years Yes 6 Months or 7 Years Yes 3 Month Fraud Alert or 7 Year Victim Statement Yes, provided online I.R.S. If you don’t have a police report or any paperwork from creditors, send the completed ID Theft Affidavit to the three major credit bureaus. They will use it to start the dispute investigation process. You also can send the ID Theft Affidavit to creditors. Not all companies accept the ID Theft Affidavit. They may require you to use their forms instead. Check with each company first about their policies regarding the ID Theft Affidavit. F.T.C. Unlimited Experian Drivers’ License Division • Unlimited Equifax • Number of Renewals Allowed Social Security Department • Credit Bureau consumer cents Internet provider(s) • Yes Equifax • Is a Free Credit Report Provided? Unlimited consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT IDENTITY THEFT I t ’ s H appened to M e , I t ’ s H appened to M e , W hat do I do N ow ? W hat do I do N ow ? 9 www.consumercents.com
  7. 7. How can I Prevent Identity Theft from Happening to Me? 5 As with any crime, you can’t guarantee that you will never be a victim, but you can minimize your risk. By managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft. • Don't consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT H ow can I P re v ent I dentity T heft from give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know with whom you're dealing. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs) and even government agencies to get you to reveal your SSN, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information. Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. You can check the organization's Web site as many companies post scam alerts when their name is used improperly, or you can call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book.  • Don't carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.  bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail.  • Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.  • Guard • If you do not use the pre-screened credit card offers you receive in the mail, you can opt out by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567- 8688). You will be asked for your Social Security number in order for the credit bureaus to identify your file so they can remove you from their lists. Also, you still may receive some credit offers because some companies use different lists from the credit bureaus’ lists.  your mail and trash from theft: Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it. T o thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and • Carry only the identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you'll actually need.  • Place consumer cents passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Use a password instead. • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctors’ offices or other institutions that collect personally identifying information from you. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask if you can keep your information confidential. • Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your SSN as your account number. IDENTITY THEFT H ow can I P re v ent I dentity T heft from H appening to M e ? H appening to M e ? 10 11 www.consumercents.com
  8. 8. What Should I do if I Know the Person Who Stole My Identity? • Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks. • Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information. • Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work as well as any copies you may keep of administrative forms that contain your sensitive personal information. • Cancel all unused credit accounts. • When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank, rather than having them sent to your home mailbox. • Be consumer cents careful when entering PIN numbers at ATM’s and in stores. Also be watchful of those around you at stores and restaurants. Many Identity thieves are using cell phone cameras to take pictures of cards so they can enlarge the picture later and use the account online. 6 • se U your credit card instead of a debit card for online purchases. If your info is stolen or intercepted, then your credit card company loses money spent on any fraudulent purchases while they investigate. However, if your debit card information is stolen, you lose the money spent on fraudulent purchases while your bank investigates. Always be sure you have the cash available to pay for any purchase you make online with a credit card to avoid accumulating debt. copies of all your credit cards, driver’s license and other documents you carry with you stored in a safe location. If you ever lost your purse or wallet you will then still have access to all the account and phone numbers you need to cancel or freeze accounts before any fraudulent charges can be made. The subject of identity theft is very personal, but when the imposter is a relative or someone you know, this magnifies the problem dramatically. Also, if the imposter is an ex-spouse, then the crime borders on harassment and abuse. This is a difficult decision to make because you feel betrayed, embarrassed, violated and abused, but what can you do about it? You have 3 choices: 1 Pay the Debt Yourself. However, before you do this, first consider if you can afford to pay the fraudulent debt and whether or not this person would commit the crime again. You may do yourself more harm than good if you resolve the matter by assuming responsibility for these debts. • Have 2 Ask the Creditors to Resolve the Situation Without Police Involvement. This is a tactic you may certainly try, unfortunately, without an official police report creditors are often not willing to believe the situation is a justified case of identity theft. Also, creditors will want their money back and due to large numbers of people falsely claiming identity theft, they will expect to see a police report. 3 Report the Identity Theft to the Police. As stated earlier, you are entitled to protection as a victim of identity theft, but only if you report the crime. Without an official report, the law cannot protect you. This may be especially hard to do if you know the person who stole your identity, but what you should be most concerned about is clearing your good name. Also, don’t forget, if you do not make a report, it could be viewed later that you knew about the fraudulent activity and you did nothing to stop it. consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT IDENTITY THEFT W hat S hould I do if I W hat S hould I do if I Know the P erson W ho Know the P erson W ho S tole M y I dentity ? S tole M y I dentity ? 12 13 www.consumercents.com
  9. 9. What is Child Identity Theft? 7 This is a fairly new crime about which little documented evidence exists. This crime occurs when another person, for personal gain, has used a child’s identity. The imposter may or may not be known to the child or the child’s family. Receiving a pre-approved credit card application though the mail in the child’s name is not necessarily identity theft, but you should run a credit report check to make sure. Child identity theft is broken into the 3 categories: 1 Financial The imposter uses the child’s identity for financial gain, mainly in obtaining credit cards. The age on credit applications is generally taken at face value and rarely checked. 2 Criminal This usually entails the child’s identity being used to obtain a driver’s license. Where to Get Further Help and Information 8 3 Cloning This is a form of identity theft where information about the child is sold on the black market, either to illegal immigrants or to people who are trying to “re-start” their lives and avoid arrest. Imposters may also search death There are many web sites that can you give you additional information and guidance on identity theft, including web sites of financial institutions and creditors. The following are some credible resources for obtaining more information: www.idtheftcenter.org www.ftc.gov.os.statues/031224cra.pdf certificates and find a person who matches the imposter’s age. A copy of the birth certificate can be purchased (depending on state law) and the imposter assumes the child’s identity. www.ftc.gov www.ssa.gov www/nclnet.org/privacy/idtheft/index.htm www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html www.consumer.gov/idtheft consumer cents consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT IDENTITY THEFT W here to G et W hat is C hild ’ s F urther H elp and I dentity T heft ? I nformation 14 15 www.consumercents.com
  10. 10. Identity Theft – A Quiz for Consumers 9 Identity thieves use numerous methods to gain access to your personal financial information. Do you know how you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft? Take this simple quiz, and see how you score: 1. When I keep my ATM cards and credit cards in my wallet, I never write my PIN (Personal Identification Number) on any of my cards. YES X NO X ANSWER: Yes REASON: If you lose your ATM or credit card, identity thieves or other criminals can have instant access to your bank or credit card account. 2. When I leave my house, I take with me only the ATM and/or credit cards I need for personal or business purchases. YES consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT X NO X 4. When I receive my monthly bank statements, credit-card bills, or other documents with personal financial information on them, I always shred them before putting them in the trash. ANSWER: Yes REASON: If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, and you’re carrying fewer cards, you’ll have to make fewer calls to banks and credit-card companies to report the loss and the odds of fraudulent charges in our name will be lower. YES X NO X ANSWER: Yes REASON: Someone who obtains your credit-card number and expiration date doesn’t need the actual card to charge purchases to your account. If you don’t look closely at your creditcard statement each month, you might not have any recourse if fraudulent transactions go through and you don’t dispute them promptly with your credit card company. As soon as you see unauthorized charges on your statement, contact the credit card company immediately to report them. NO X ANSWER: Yes REASON: Some identity thieves aren’t shy about “dumpster diving” – literally climbing into dumpsters or rummaging through trash bins to find identifying information that someone threw out. Buying and using a shredder in your home or office is an inexpensive way to frustrate dumpster divers and protect your personal data. 3. When I receive my monthly creditcard bills, I always look carefully at the specific transactions charged to my account before I pay the bill. YES X 5. When I get mail saying I’ve been pre approved for a credit card, and don’t want to accept or activate the card, I always tear up or shred the pre approval forms before putting them in the trash. YES X NO X ANSWER: Yes REASON: If you throw out the documents without tearing them up or shredding them, “dumpster divers” can send them back to the credit-card company pretending to be you but saying that your address has changed. If they use the account from a new location, you may not know the account is being used in your name until you see it on your credit report. 6. I request a copy of my credit report at least once a year. YES X NO X ANSWER: Yes REASON: Any consumer can request one free copy of his or her credit report per year. Reviewing your credit report can help you find out if someone has opened unauthorized financial documents or taken out unauthorized loans in your name. Contact each of the three major credit bureaus to request a copy. You may also request a free copy of your credit report at www. annualcreditreport.com. consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT I dentity T heft – A I dentity T heft – A Q ui z for C onsumers Q ui z for C onsumers 16 17 www.consumercents.com
  11. 11. 7. If the volume of mail I receive at home substantially decreases, I always check with my local post office to see if anyone has improperly filed a changeof-address card in my name. YES X NO X ANSWER: Yes REASON: Some identity thieves may try to take over your credit card and bank accounts and delay your discovery of their criminal activities by having your mail diverted to a new address where they can go through it without your knowledge. Your local post office should have any change-of-address cards in your name on file, and can respond if you find that someone is improperly diverting your mail. 8. If I think I may be victim of identity theft, I immediately contact: a) The Federal Trade Commission to report the situation and get guidance on how to deal with it. YES consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT X NO X b) The three major credit bureaus to inform them of the situation. YES X NO Credit bureaus should also be notified so they can flag your credit report. This ensures that fraudulent activity committed against you will not be included in your credit report or used against you if you ever need to legitimately apply for new credit. X c) My local police department and have an officer take a report. YES X NO X Local police, by taking a report and providing you with a copy, can help you show creditors that an identity thief has been conducting certain transactions in your name and without your permission. d) Any businesses where the identity thief conducted fraudulent transactions in my name. YES X NO X ANSWER: Yes to all REASON: Identity theft is a crime under federal law and under the laws of more than 44 states, which carries serious penalties including imprisonment and fines. To help law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a national database of complaints by identity theft victims. The FTC, through a toll-free hotline (1-877-ID-THEFT), can also help you decide what steps to take in trying to remedy the situation and restore your good name and credit. HOW DID YOU SCORE ON THIS QUIZ? If you checked even Two or Three “NO” boxes, it means that you need to take more of the precautions described in this quiz. Remember, identify thieves, unlike robbers or fraudsters, don’t need any personal contact with you in order to commit their crimes. The more you do to protect your personal information, the lower the odds that you’ll become a victim of identity theft. consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT I dentity T heft – A I dentity T heft – A Q ui z for C onsumers Q ui z for C onsumers 18 19 www.consumercents.com
  12. 12. Notes consumer cents IDENTITY THEFT NOTES 20

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