Identity Theft occurs when someone steals your personal information (for example credit card or Social Security number) and uses it fraudulently. It can cost you time and money. It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name. This is something that everyone needs to be aware of and concerned about.
Threats to Your Identity - How can they get my information?
Identity thieves may:
Special Concerns for Students:
What You Can Do:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has created a program with these points:
Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information
Threats to your Identity
While using a computer and the internet cannot be made completely safe, there are a number of things that you can do to make it much, much safer. Here are the threats that are out there these days:
Follow these steps to deter thieves:
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 a ID theft incident.
Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements.
Be alert for:
Inspect your credit report
The law entitles you to one free report a year from each nationwide credit reporting agencies if you ask for it .
Order online: www.AnnualCreditReport.com
Note that this is the ONLY one you should go to for your free report. There are many lookalikes out there that will give you a free report and then sign you up for a recurring monthly charge for further reports. Also when you are forwarded from www.AnnualCreditReport.com to the individual credit reporting sites, be careful what you click on. There are many opportunities to sign up for services for which you will be charged. It is not always as obvious as it should be what you should click on to get your free report. Please read carefully. Click here for information from the FTC on your consumer rights.
Order by phone: 1-877-322-8228
Close accounts that have been tampered
File a police report
Place a 90-day “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports by calling any one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies below or following this link. Placing a fraud alert on your account entitles you to a free credit report from each agency. Order these reports and them carefully. Look for fraudulent activity.
What does an alert do?
With a fraud alert active, you have to be available at either your work phone or home phone to approve opening the credit account. It will just require a short delay in your instant gratification and a call-back to the credit company authorizing the new account. A fraud alert won't cause any problems with your current credit card, bank or credit accounts. It's focused on new credit accounts, not the ones you already have opened. NOTE: If you're just about to apply for a home loan or refinance, let your broker know that you have a fraud alert in place because you're trying to protect yourself against fraud.
The Initial or 90-day Alert
A 90-day temporary alert is added to your account when you alert the credit reporting agency (CRA) that you have a good faith suspicion that you have been, or are about to become a victim of fraud or related crime, including identify theft. Consumers who add this alert are entitled to request a free copy of their disclosure and will be opted-out of Prescreen for six months. The consumer will be able to add a phone number to this alert so that the data user can verify the identity of the consumer. You only need to call one of the three or fill out just the single form above. Whoever you report it to will share the information with the other credit reporting agencies (CRAs) through the Fraud Exchange System.
The Extended (7-Year) Alert
A seven-year alert added to your account when a you submit an Identity Theft Report (below) and proof of identity. Consumers who add this alert are entitled to request two free copies of their disclosure and will be opted out of Prescreen for five years. This alert must include a telephone number or other reasonable contact method so that the data user can verify the identity of the consumer. This form must be manually filled out and mailed in to a CRA.
The request form is here. You only need to send this form to one reporting agency. The link is for Experian. Experian will share the information with the other credit reporting agencies (CRAs) through the Fraud Exchange System.
Removing an Alert
If you decide you want to remove a fraud alert you'll need to visit the same link as for placing the hold.
Relevent Phone Numbers:
Contact the Federal Trade Commission for more information.