Identity Theft occurs when someone takes your personal information in order to obtain money from your accounts, open new credit accounts, apply for loans, rent apartments or even commit crimes - using your identity.
REMEMBER THE FIVE “Ss”: SEAL, SECURE, SHRED, SCAM, SCRUTINIZE.
- SEAL your lips - Never give your social security number or any personal information of any kind over the telephone or online.
- SECURE - Make sure all personal information at home is not left out where someone can get hold of it. Sometimes you have outsiders come into your home to do repairs.
Make sure your mailbox is secure so that no one can reach in and remove your mail. Put all outgoing mail in a collection box, not on top of your mailbox for the mailman to pick up.
When you are using an ATM, use your other hand to block the view of the pin number you are putting in. There are people “shoulder surfing” to get your pin number.
- SHRED - Do not throw bank and check statements, cancelled checks, pre-approved check offers, and bills with account information in the trash. There are people who are “dumpster divers.” Dumpster divers go through your trash to get all the above items with your personal information. Shred all unwanted materials containing sensitive personal information.
- SCAMS - Watch out for lottery, e-mail, and telemarketing scams. You are asked to provide for personal information. If it sound too good to be true, it is!
- SCRUTINIZE - Check your credit card statements carefully. Get a copy of your credit reports annually.
What to do if you are a victim?
- Make a police report.
- Report it to all three credit agencies:
Equifax 1-888-766-0008 http://www.equifax.com
Experian 1-888-397-3742 http://www.experian.com
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 http://www.transunion.com
The credit agencies will send you a free copy of your credit report.
- Notify your bank
- Contact the Social Security Administration to report unauthorized use of your personal information.
The Fraud Hotline is 1-800-269-0271.
- Notify the issuer of each credit card you carry.
- Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Check if any unauthorized license number has been used in your name.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Ask for a free guide:
“ID Theft When Bad Things Happen in Your Good Name,” that will help you recover from your theft.
- And guard against future thefts.
* Hotline: 1-877-ID-THEFT
* TDD: 1-202-326-5205
* On the website: http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/