Friday, April 28, 2017
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FACTS ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT.

  • The emotional impact of identity theft is similar to that suffered by victims of violent crimes.
  • Most identity theft is committed through traditional means such as lost or stolen wallets or purses, mail theft, or misappropriation of personal identifiers by family or friends.

HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?

  • The victim gives out his/ her information to phone caller or mail request.
  • Lost or Stolen wallets and pocketbooks.
  • Stolen or Diverted Mail.
  • Stolen Trash, known as “Dumpster Diving”.
  • Burglary of residence or business.
  • Credit Card “skimming”
  • Unscrupulous Employees
  • Internet
    • “Phishing”
      • “Phishing" is an e-mail message from that appears to be sent by a legitimate institution which attempts to trick consumers into revealing personal information—such as their credit or debit account numbers, checking account information, Social Security numbers, or banking account passwords—through fake Websites or in a reply e-mail.
    • Fake websites
      • Fake websites mimic the sites of established companies to trick prospective customers into revealing credit card information.
    • Unsecured wireless networks
      • As more people install wireless routers on their home networks they fail to utilize the security features on their wireless routers or firewall software. Criminal’s can gain access to a victims unsecured internet connection and use it to commit crimes and frauds.
    • Unsecured laptops using “hotspots”
    • Criminals can gain access to your laptop while you use a public “hotspot” and obtain any personal or important information

WHAT CRIMES OR FRAUDS CAN BE COMMITTED WITH YOUR IDENTITY?

  • Open cell phone and wireless service.
  • Open new credit card accounts.
  • Take over your existing credit card accounts.
  • Open bank accounts.
  • Counterfeit your checks and credit/debit cards.
  • Buy cars and houses.
  • Commit crimes in your name.

PREVENTION

  • Vigilance = Protection!
  • Give yourself the choice!Ask a merchant or service provider requesting your Social Security number or personal information;
    • Why do they need it?
    • What will they do with it?
    • Where will it be kept?
    • Will you still get the merchandise or service if you do not provide them your personal information?
    • Can you substitute passwords or identifiers of your choosing?
  • Wallet or Pocketbook
    • Only carry the personal information you need daily in your wallet or purse.
    • Leave your Social Security Card in a safe place at home.
    • Reduce the number of credit cards you carry- Better yet only take a credit card with you when you expect to use it.
    • DO NOT keep copies of Social Security numbers, Account numbers, PINS or other identifying information in your wallet.
    • You must carry your drivers license and in many cases business or school identification as well as health insurance cards. Such documents may contain your Social Security number. If possible replace your Social Security number with a different identifying number or password.
  • Protect your mail.
    • Locking mail boxes
    • Vacation hold
    • Outgoing mail to post office collection boxes
    • Remove your name from Direct Marketing Lists
    • Opt-Out of receiving pre-screened credit offers.
    • Know your billing cycles.
  • Shred documents containing personal information before placing in trash.
  • Passwords on credit, debit cards, bank and phone accounts.
  • Secure Your Information
    • At home – burglar proof
    • Know who has access to your info such as Family, Friends and Home Assistants. Take action to secure your information from those who you do not want to have access.
  • Order Your Credit Bureau Reports
    • Check your credit reports carefully for credit cards and loans you may not have opened or applied for.
  • Computer Security.
    • Update your Operating System and virus software.
    • Use antivirus software.
    • Watch out for e-mail attachments.
    • Turn the computer off.
    • Use Firewall Software.
    • Use a strong password containing both large and lower case letters and numbers.
    • Use a router and keep security firmware updated.
  • Wireless Networks
    • Make sure you change the default password
    • Change the default SSID- change it frequently
    • Enable Wireless Security
    • Disable SSID Broadcast
    • Keep the wireless router firmware updated
  • Laptop Computers
    • If possible DO NOT store personal data on a laptop
    • Consider Physical security
      • Locks
      • Cables
    • Use bios and sign on Passwords
    • Enable Document encryption
  • Public Wireless Connections
    • Keep software updated
    • Turn on XP Firewall or other software firewalls
    • Enable encryption which prevents “sniffing”
    • Never
      • send confidential info
      • use passwords
      • View online bank statements
    • Be aware of Rogue Access Points
  • Computer Hard Drives
    • DO NOT discard old hard drives in the trash without first:
      • Using specialized disk wiping software to clear data from the hard drive
      • Destroy the hard drive if no longer needed

WHAT TO DO IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT.

IMMEDIATELY!

  • Call the Police
    • Providing the credit bureau agencies with a copy of a police report will allow them to extend the fraud alert on your information to seven years.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus.
    • Place a fraud alert on your records.
    • Request your credit bureau reports.
    • Check your reports carefully, make sure you can identify every entry reported, close any accounts not opened by you.
  • Call the creditors involved.
    • Advise them that you are the victim of Identity Theft
    • Close the affected accounts
  • Correct the address for any mailings in your name being sent to the wrong location by contacting the U.S. Postal Inspectors.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline
    • Phone: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
    • TDD: 202-326-2502
    • Mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington D.C. 20580
    • Online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft

Get Control of your Identifiers!
A few guidelines to regain control of your life and your financial well being by proving to financial institutions that you are the victim not the perpetrator.

  • Gather all the information you possess regarding the theft and use of your personal identifiers.
  • Chart a time line as to the sequence of events as you understand them. Correct the time line as you gather more information.
  • Keep a diary and document any phone calls regarding your problem; record the date, time and the names of persons you called and what information was discussed. Get direct phone numbers of those contacted as well as addresses for future correspondence.
  • Follow up all phone conversations with a written correspondence confirming the details of your conversation. Send the correspondence certified mail with a return receipt.
  • Keep hard copies as well as computer copies of all correspondence, bills and charges either sent or received.
  • Keep track of expenses related to correcting your personal identifiers or credit information for the possibility of future restitution.
  • Stay organized, that may be difficult in such stressful circumstances so you may need to enlist a family member or close friend to assist you in the effort.

Resources:
Remove your name from Mailing or Call Lists

  • Unsolicited Credit card Offers:
    • 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)
  • Direct Marketers:The Direct Marketing Assoc.

    Credit Bureau Contact Numbers

    Credit Bureau

    Report Fraud

    Credit Reports

    Web Sites

    Equifax

    1-800-525-6285

    1-800-685-1111

    www.equifax.com

    Experian

    1-888-397-3742

    1-888-397-3742

    www.experian.com

    Trans Union

    1-800-680-7289

    1-800-916-8800

    www.tuc.com

    Free Credit Bureau Reports once a year.
    There are three ways to get them:

    If you discover an error in a report, write the reporting company to explain the situation.
    Social Security Administration Hotline:

    Mail Theft: Contact the U.S. Postal Inspectors

    www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect

     

    • Mail: Mail Preference Service
      Direct Marketing Association
      PO Box 643
      Carmel, NY 10512
    • www.the-dma.org
    • Click on the Web site www.annualcreditreport.com and fill out a request.
    • Call 877-322-8228.
    • Print out the annual credit report request form at www.ftc.gov/credit and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
    • 1-800-269-0271
    • www.socialsecurity.gov/oig

Security Freeze Law

Section 1785.11.2, authored by Senator Debra Bowen, was enacted to enhance protection of consumers from identity theft by allowing them to place fraud alerts on their credit reports and to prevent or control the release of those reports, and by prohibiting specified government and business uses of social security numbers.

The security freeze law provides, among other things, that “[a] consumer may elect to place a security freeze on his or her credit report by making a request in writing by certified mail to a consumer credit reporting agency.” If such a security freeze is in place, “information from a consumer’s credit report may not be released to a third party without prior express authorization from the consumer.” A consumer credit reporting agency has five business days to place a freeze on a credit report after receiving a written request.

Below is information to place a credit freeze or security freeze on your credit report if you live in the State of California.

 

  • Victims of Identity Theft – Free -- Under California law, victims of identity theft are entitled to place a security freeze on their credit report for free.
  • Residents 65 and Older – $5 -- Under California law, residents 65 or older are entitled to place a security freeze on their credit report for free.
  • Non-Victims of Identity Theft under 65 - $10 -- Under California law, non-victims of identity theft under the age of 65 are entitled to place a security freeze on their credit report for a fee.

The ability and procedure to:

  • lift a credit freeze for a specific date range
  • to lift the credit freeze for a specific party
  • to remove the security freeze
  • or to replace you security freeze access PIN

May vary according to the policies of the specific credit bureau in question. The fees necessary to execute these actions may also vary by credit bureau.It is best to contact the credit bureau directly to ascertain their current policies.

 

Contact Equifax: www.equifax.com

Equifax Credit Freeze Address:
Equifax Security Freeze
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Equifax Credit Freeze Phone Number: 800-685-1111

More Equifax credit freeze information

 

Contact Experian: www.experian.com

Experian Credit Freeze Address:
Experian Security Freeze
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

Experian Credit Freeze Phone Number: 888-397-3742

More Experian credit freeze information

 

Contact Trans Union: www.transunion.com

TransUnion Credit Freeze Address:
Equifax Fraud Victim Assistance
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

TransUnion Credit Freeze Phone Number: 888-909-8872

More TransUnion credit freeze information

SECURITY FREEZE SAMPLE LETTERS

Freeze Letter to TransUnion | Freeze Letter to Equifax | Freeze Letter to Experian

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

For additional information regarding identify theft and other financial topics, please visit: http://www.creditscore.net/

Category: Crime Prevention

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