About Identity Theft

Identity theft has been the top consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission now for 13 years running. The FTC's annual look at its Consumer Sentinel Network database of complaints found that the agency received more than 2 million complaints overall in calendar year 2013, with 14% related to identity theft.

The average loss from the misuse of a victim's personal information is more than $4,900.

How does it happen?

Identity thieves use various ways to steal your personal data.  This data can be used to apply for credit in your name, open accounts, or even get medical services using your health insurance.


Identity thieves may steal mail (such as account statements, new checks and credit offers) from mailboxes, trash, or even out of your home or office.



Identity thieves may take credit card and personal identification from your purse or wallet.

Identity thieves may trick you into divulging personal information through phony websites or scam e-mails, often posing as your bank or Credit Card Company.

How Can I Avoid Becoming A Victim?

Taking steps to protect your personal information can help you avoid identity theft.

Here’s what you can do to stay ahead of identity thieves.

Completely destroy or shred all papers with personal information before throwing them out.

Be careful who you give your information to over the phone, and only give your SSN if absolutely necessary. Try using other identifiers such as a driver’s license number.

NEVER give out your Personal Identification Number (PIN) or passwords.

Report lost or stolen credit cards, checks or identification immediately.

Shop online only with reputable merchants in secured areas. Secure sites will have a URL that begins with https: or s-http:. Also, look for a padlock on the website – this signifies the use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

Never write your Social Security Number or driver’s license number on your checks.

Obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies each year.

Government regulation requires each major credit bureau provide consumers with a FREE credit report annually, but you must request it. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get yours.

Never leave your mail in an unsecured mailbox, and contact the U.S. Postal service if you don’t receive mail for a few days.

If you log into online accounts, use a strong password. Add multi-factor authentication for accounts that offer the feature

Act Now!

If You Are A Victim, Take These Steps Immediately

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, ask for a free copy of your credit report, and review those reports for evidence of accounts you didn’t open.  Contact the fraud units of the 3 credit bureaus listed on the right.

  • Close accounts – including share drafts/checks or ATM cards–that have been tampered with or used fraudulently. Contact all financial institutions and lenders, credit card issuers, utility companies, and the Social Security Administration to notify them of the fraud. Follow up each conversation with a letter.

  • File a report with law enforcement and insist on getting a copy of the report or the report number.

  • File a complaint with the FTC at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft or call 877-IDTHEFT.

Equifax

888-766-0008
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
www.equifax.com

TransUnion

800-680-7289
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
www.transunion.com

Experian

888-397-3742
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com

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