smartconsumer: ID Theft - Do

ID Theft

{What to Know} {What to Do}
Prevent Identity Theft
Protect your Personal Information
At home:

  • Keep your financial records and Social Security cards in a secure place.
  • Shred papers that have your personal or medical information.
  • Take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can.
In public:

  • Be aware of your wallet and purse at all times.
  • Be careful with your credit card or debit card.
  • Do not tell people your PIN number.
As you do business:

  • Only give your Social Security number if it is absolutely necessary. Ask if you can use another kind of identification, many times it is not necessary to use your social security number.
  • Do not give your personal information to unfamiliar people or companies who call you or email you.
On the computer:

  • Use passwords that are not easy to guess, use numbers and symbols.
  • Do not respond to emails or other messages that ask for personal information.
  • Do not open emailed links that are unfamiliar.
  • Do not put personal information on a public computer, such as libraries or copy centers.
  • Shop on secure websites that have an address that starts with “https”.
  • Have security software on your own computer.
Get your Credit Report

  • You get one free credit report per year from a credit reporting company.
  • Call Annual Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228.
  • Answer questions from a recorded system. You have to give your address, Social Security number, and birth date.
  • Choose to only show the last four numbers of your Social Security number. It is safer than showing the full number on your report.
Your report should arrive in the mail two to three weeks after you call. Read your credit report carefully. Look for mistakes or accounts you do not recognize.
If You Think Your Identity has been Stolen
Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

  • Call any of the three credit reporting companies. Ask them to place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. The initial fraud alert lasts for 90 days.
    • Equifax – Phone:  1-800-525-6285
    • Experian – Phone:  1-888 397 3742
    • Transunion – Phone: 1-800-680-7289

  • Contact all three credit reporting companies for a copy of your credit report. If your identity was stolen, the companies must give you a free report.
There are three kinds of fraud alerts:

  • Initial fraud alert – lasts for 90 days. Use this if you think someone stole your identity.
  • Extended fraud alert – lasts for seven years. Use this if you know someone stole your identity.
  • Active duty alert – lasts up to one year. Use this if you are in the military and deployed.
If you are sure your identity was stolen, you can put an extended fraud alert on your credit report. To ask for an extended fraud alert, contact each credit reporting company. You might have to give them a copy of your Identity Theft Report. Send copies, keep all originals.
Create an Identity Theft Report
The Identity Theft Report helps prove that you are a victim of a crime. It is your statement of what happened. Be very detailed and write in as many details as possible. List what accounts are not yours and what charges you did not make. Your Identity Theft Report tells your creditors that you did not make the disputed purchases.
If you are reporting online:

  • Go online to create your Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Type your information into the online form.
  • Click the button to submit your complaint. Your submitted complaint is your "Identity Theft Affidavit".
  • Save the complaint reference number and save the Identity Theft Affidavit to your computer.
If you are reporting by phone:

  • Call 1-877-438-4338 to talk to a counselor at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who will register your complaint.
  • Ask the counselor to email you a link so you can print your complaint. Your completed complaint is called the "Identity Theft Affidavit".
  • Save the complaint reference number.
  • Print your Identity Theft Affidavit.
File a Police Report

  • File a police report by phone or in person. Take your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit with you.
  • Get a copy of the police report or the number of the police report.
  • Attach your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit to your police report. That is your complete Identity Theft Report
Set Up a Filing System

  • Save copies of your papers, receipts, and account statements.
  • Keep a list of the companies you called and the dates you called them. Write the name of the person you spoke with, what you asked them to do, and what they agreed to do.
  • Confirm in writing what was discussed on the phone.
  • When you mail things, ask for a return receipt to get proof that the company received the letter.

Content Last Modified on 3/9/2017 1:57:47 PM