Identity Theft Resources on the Protect my ID.com site
Often victims of identity theft are unaware that they are being victimized until they receive notices from credit card companies or collection agencies.
The Federal Trade Commission has set up a toll-free hotline that consumers can use to report identity theft. The FTC offers the services of trained counselors who will help victims begin the long and often costly task of clearing their names. The FTC toll free number is 1-877-438-4338.
What To Do If You Are a Victim
- Notify the police, banks, loan agencies, and creditors. Get a copy of the police report and keep a record of all contacts with legal and financial institutions.
- Ask creditors to call in an alert if any new charges are added.
- Cancel all credit cards, bank accounts, PINs, and passwords.
- Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-269-0271 to report fraud.
- Call the major credit reporting agencies (see chart below) and ask them to attach a fraud alert and victim's statement to their report.
- Notify the post office if you suspect your mail is being diverted due to a change of address form being filed.
- Alert utility companies that your identity is being used fraudulently and ask that your accounts be flagged.
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and ask if a license has been issued. You may be asked to change your license number; however, procedures vary from state to state.
- Notify the passport office in writing to watch for anyone who may order a new passport in your name.
- If tax fraud is suspected, notify the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-0433.
- If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken or debts incurred by the thief, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you've been a victim of identity theft. Ask how your name can be cleared.
- If bank accounts were set up fraudulently or checks were stolen, contact check verification agencies:
- CheckRite: 800-766-2748
- ChexSystems: 800-428-9623
- CrossCheck: 800-552-1900
- NPC: 800-526-5380
- SCAN: 800-262-7771
- TeleCheck: 800-710-9898
In 1988 Congress enacted the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (18 USC 1028) making it a crime to steal someone's identity. Approximately 20 states have since passed legislation criminalizing identity theft.
Even with this law, however, the victim is still responsible for clearing his or her name, as well as taking care of any credit problems as a result of the identity theft.
The use of the Internet has made it easy for criminals to work anonymously from anywhere in the world. While there's no guaranteed protections from an identity theft, consumers should be made aware of the ways they may be compromising their privacy without even realizing it. The following preventive measures are offered as ways to thwart both the high tech and low tech identity thief:
- Protect your personal information. Think about what you're putting in the trash.
- Buy a paper shredder and use it on papers that may contain names, addresses, or account numbers.
- Don't leave bills or bank statements in your mailbox. Use a locked mailbox and drop off bills at the post office.
- Cancel credit cards that you don't use. Don't carry around extra credit cards in your wallet.
- Destroy (shred) pre-approved credit card solicitations.
- Don't carry your Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport with you.
- Don't have your Social Security number, telephone number, or other unnecessary information printed on your checks.
- Pick up new checks at the bank. Don't have them mailed to you.
- Don't use your birth date or Social Security number as a password or PIN number.
- Pay attention to "lurkers" who may be standing nearby when you're at an ATM or phone booth.
- Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements. Check your credit report for any irregularities.
Credit Reporting Agencies
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P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta GA 30374-0250
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta GA 30374-0123
P.O. Box 1017
Allen TX 75013
P.O. Box 2104
Allen TX 75013
P.O. Box 919
Allen TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
P.O. Box 390
Springfield PA 19064
P.O. Box 97328
Jackson MS 39238
The telephone number of the Fraud Unit is (615) 862-7594.