Identity Theft - Internet and Phone Fraud
Burn or shred any mail or financial papers that show your personal information. Never recycle these documents. Use a "cross shredder" if possible.
Call 1-888-5OPTOUT and ask to stop credit card companies from sending pre-approved credit card applications to your house. They are ticking identity theft time bombs.
Ask your credit card firm to cease delivery of "convenience checks." They, too, are ticking time bombs.
You're entitled to one free credit report each year. Get it as soon as possible and review it carefully.
Order a credit report a month or more before you make a big purchase or apply for credit to be sure there are no surprises in your history.
Resist a company's requests for personal information, such as your phone number at a checkout line. The harder we make it on companies, the less they will be inclined to continue the practice.
It's impossible to tell what's real and what's fake online. Just delete any e-mail that asks for personal information.
Just hang up on callers or telemarketers who seem to be fishing for personal information, like your birthday. Banks and Credit Card companies DO NOT ask customers for their account number.
Limit the number of credit cards you hold, and inspect your financial statements each month. Consumer rights quickly fade over time; the sooner you discover an identity theft incident, the better.
Most of the time, you can't prevent an ID theft incident from occurring, because two-thirds of the time, some company that leaked the data is to blame. So be prepared, and be organized. Save paper bank records for a year, at least. You'll need them to prove your account balance in the event of an ID theft incident.
Step 1: Protect your finances
Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus.
Get a copy of your credit report, which is free to ID theft victims. Ask that your file be flagged with a "fraud alert tag" and a "victim's statement." That will limit the thief's ability to open new credit accounts, as new creditors will normally contact you before granting credit. Insist, in writing, that the fraud alert remain in place for seven years, the maximum, according to PrivacyRights.org.
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or 1-800-525-6285
TransUnion Corp: 1-800-680-7289
Step 2: File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Then, get a copy of the police report o,r at the very least, the number of the report. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime. If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a "Miscellaneous Incidents" report, or try another jurisdiction, like your state police. You also can check with your state Attorney General's office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number or check www.naag.org for a list of state Attorneys General.
Step 3: Close all compromised accounts
The list may be wider than you realize. This includes accounts with banks, credit card companies and other lenders, and phone companies, utilities, ISPs, and other service providers. Dispute all unauthorized charges.
Step 4: File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims' complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.
You can file a complaint online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft. If you don't have Internet access, call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653- 4261; or write:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
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