When an imposter obtains key bits of information, such as your Social Security and driver’s license numbers, to obtain credit, merchandise and text in the name of you, the victim.
What Does it Mean?
- Identity theft means precisely what it says — someone has stolen your identity. It happens when a perpetrator obtains your credit card, Social Security or driver’s license numbers, and then uses those numbers to unlawfully secure merchandise, text or credit in your good name.
How do you know if you’ve been victimized?
There are several ways to detect if identity theft has occurred. Here are some of the more common ones:
- Your credit card company calls alerting you of unusual charges
- Your car loan is denied
- You receive phone calls from collection agencies
- The DMV sends notice that your license is being revoked
What Can Be Done?
If you suspect that you’ve fallen victim to identity theft, act fast to protect yourself and your credit. The faster you act, the better your chances of beating the crooks to the punch. And keeping your name and credit in good standing.
- Take detailed notes of all ID theft-related phone calls, including name, time and date
- Place a fraud alert on your credit file — this will make creditors call for verification before they approve a new line of credit
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus:
- — Equifax 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
- — Experian 1-888-397-3742 www.experian.com
- — Transunion 1-800-680-7289 www.tuc.com
- Call your banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions, as well as your cell phone company and ask if there has been suspicious activity on your accounts
- File a police report to dispute unauthorized charges and assure insurance claims
- Complete an online ID theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or call 1-877-ID-THEFT
- For additional help: www.idtheftcenter.org
- Call the Social Security Administration to report Fraud: 800-269-0271
How do you protect yourself?
The best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to remain vigilant. And to use simple, effective ways to protect yourself.
- Never respond to unsolicited requests for your Social Security number or financial data
- Before discarding, shred credit cards, ATM receipts and any preapproved credit offers you receive but will not use
- Check all credit card and bank statements for accuracy
- Avoid simple access and personal ID (PIN) codes (i.e., your birthday, your maiden name, etc.)
- Obtain a copy of your credit report annually and check it for accuracy
- Use only secure pages when making online purchases — secure pages begin with ‘https’
- Safeguard your Social Security Number, and check earnings and benefit statements annually for fraudulent use
A Final Piece of Advice
The information provided here is by no means all-inclusive. Other practices may very well indicate identity theft. More comprehensive solutions to combating and dealing with this crime should be sought from qualified professionals. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, consult the police, your attorney or other law professionals for guidance. Madison Management Services, LLC does not provide legal advice. This brochure should be used as a common sense reference tool to help protect you and your loved ones from the fast-growing crime of identity.
For More Information About Stopping ID Theft
These are among the federal and state government agencies that have publications, Web sites, staff and other resources that help answer your questions on ID theft and other financial fraud:
Federal Regulators of Depository Institutions:
- To get assistance from the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Office of Thrift Supervision or the National Credit Union Administration, see the listings on https:FDIC Consumer News. Past issues of FDIC Consumer News also have stories on some of the best ways to protect yourself from a variety of financial scams and thefts. Check them out at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/index.html on the FDIC’s Web site.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI:
- The Justice Department, which prosecutes federal fraud cases, and its Federal Bureau of Investigation, which investigates suspected ID thefts, have posted useful information on the Internet at USDOJ Identity Theft To speak with someone at a local field office of the FBI, check the government listings in your local telephone book.
The Federal Trade Commission:
- The FTC is a central U.S. clearinghouse for information on preventing and reporting identity theft, with a new Web site on www.consumer.gov/idtheft and a specially staffed toll-free hotline at 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338). The FTC also has several excellent publications about avoiding frauds, but start with the new booklet “ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name”. It’s available online from the Web site, by calling the ID theft hotline, or by writing the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. The FTC Web site also provides links to the Internet offerings of other government and private organizations that help combat identity theft.
The Social Security Administration:
- Under certain circumstances, the SSA will assign new Social Security numbers to victims of ID theft. To get more information about Social Security numbers and identity theft, call the SSA’s toll-free fraud hotline 800-269-0271 or visit its www.ssa.gov Web site.
Reprinted with permission: FDIC Consumer News, a publication of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.