Protecting yourself against Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is when someone is using your information or your child’s personal or financial information to make purchases, get benefits, file taxes, or commit fraud. 

What can I do to protect myself?

         Check your accounts and statements regularly.  Know your transactions.  If transactions start appearing on your statements that are irregular or you did not authorize, it may be a sign of Identity Theft.

         Check your credit reports at least annually.  You are entitled to 1 free credit report (does not disclose scores) from each of the three credit bureaus.   For your free report go to: www.annualcreditreport.com

o   Equifax                                 1-800-685-1111                 Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance

o   Experian              1-888-397-3742                 Experian.com/fraudalert

o   Trans Union        1-800-916-8800                 TransUnion.com/fraud

         Early detection is critical.

         Do not give out financial information over the phone unless you know the person or organization you are dealing with.  Hang up the phone, look up the phone number to the business, and call them back.  Do not call the number on caller ID or the number they give you to call back.

         Report any lost or stolen checks or credit cards immediately. 

         Notify your bank of any suspicious phone inquiries asking for your account information. 

         Closely guard your ATM Personal Identification Number (PIN) and receipts.  Block view of the device as you enter your PIN.

         Shred any financial information.

         Secure all outgoing mail in an official Postal Service Collection box. 

What do I do if I am a victim of Identity Theft?

         Contact your financial institution and/or credit card companies and close or freeze your accounts.  Request to use passwords or security questions to access your information. 

         Contact one of the credit bureaus and alert them that your identity has been stolen.  Request that a “fraud alert” be put on your account.  The credit bureau you contact must tell the other two.  You will receive a letter from each credit bureau confirming a fraud alert has been put on your file.

         Report the Identity Theft the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Include as much detail as possible.

o   IdentityTheft.gov

o   1-877-438-4338

         You may choose to file a report with your local police department.  Be sure to take a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, government-issued ID with photo, proof of your address, and any other proof you have of the theft such as bills, IRS notices, etc.

o   Tell the police someone stole your identity and you need to file a report.

o   Ask for a copy of the police report.  (You may need this in your disputes)