Identity Theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and thousands of dollars – cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of a good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing or cars and even get arrested for crimes they did not commit. Humiliation, anger and frustration are among the feelings victims experience as they navigate the process of rescuing their identity.
TIPS FOR PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT/FRAUD
Keep disclosure of key identity information at a minimum.
Minimize the amount of personal information a thief can steal.
Do not carry extra credit cards, a Social Security card, birth certificate or your passport.
Cancel all unused credit cards. Their account numbers are still available in your credit report.
Keep a list of all credit card numbers and expiration dates so you can contact creditors quickly.
Never give a card number or other information over the phone.
Take ATM, credit card and other receipts with you and either save them in a safe place or destroy them.
Shred or tear up pre-approved credit card offers you do not accept
Do not keep your pin number in your wallet.
Do not print your Social Security number on your checks or give it out unless absolutely necessary. Social Security numbers are the prime targets of criminals.
If you feel you have become the victim of identity theft, act immediately. Report the crime to police, credit card issuers and your bank.
The FTC has developed an excellent video on identiy theft – just click to watch – Identity Theft Video
Credit Reporting Agencies
- Equifax 800-525-6285 or online at www.equifax.com
- Experian 800-682-7654 or online at www.experian.com
- TransUnion 800-680-7289 or online at www.transunion.com
In order to track identity theft, a report should also be filed with the United States Consumer Affairs Department at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/
It is further recommended that you check your credit report at least once a year. This can be done online at www.annualcreditreport.com (or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228).