If your identity is stolen
Contact the fraud departments of each of the major credit bureaus. Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, along with a victim's statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.
- Equifax to report fraud: 1-800-525-6285 (P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241),
- Experian to report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) (P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013), and
- TransUnion to report fraud: 1-800-680-7289 (Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634)
- Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Speak with someone in the security/fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a letter.
- If your Social Security number has been used illegally, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
- File a report with SPU Safety and Security and with the Police department in the jurisdiction where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit-card company, or others need proof of the crime.
- Keep records of everything involved in your efforts to clear up fraud, including copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls.
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
- Destroy private records and statements when you no longer need them. Destroy credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain any private information. If you can, shred all sensitive paper work before recycling it.
- Don’t leave your bank or ATM receipts behind.
- Do not let your mail sit in an unsecured mailbox. Collect it regularly to avoid theft of sensitive documents. Never mail outgoing bill payments and checks from an unsecured mailbox, especially at home. Mail them from Post office drop boxes or at the post office.
- Safeguard your Social Security number. Never carry your card with you, or any other card that may have your number; your SSN is the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts.
- Protect your computer from viruses and spies. Use complicated passwords and frequently update antivirus software and spyware. Only shop at trusted sites.
- Know who you're dealing with. Whenever you are contacted, either by phone or email, by individuals identifying themselves as banks, credit card or e-commerce companies and asked for private identity or financial information, do not respond. Legitimate companies do not contact you and ask you to provide personal data such as PINs, user names and passwords or bank account information over the phone or Internet. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company yourself by calling customer service using the number on your account statement and confirm what you were told before revealing any of your personal data.
- Guard your personal information. Ask questions whenever anyone asks you for personal data. How will the information be used? Why must I provide this data? Ask if there is another way to identify yourself.
- Monitor your credit report. Periodically obtain and thoroughly review your credit report from major credit bureaus (e.g., Equifax (800-685-1111), Experian (883-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-916-8800)) to look for suspicious activity. If you spot something, alert your card company or the creditor immediately.
- Review your bank and credit card statements carefully. Look for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill.
- Keep track of your billing dates/cycles and follow up with creditors if you don’t receive bills/statements on time.
- Use random letters and numbers for passwords; don’t use your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your graduation date, your social security number or any other familiar letters or numbers that can be associated with you as passwords.