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Identity Theft / Fraud Using your Social Security Number
If you suspect your Social Security Number has been used to commit identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is charged with handling most identity theft complaints. at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) or go to: Identity Theft Complaint Form. To order a copy of your Social Security Administration earnings and benefits statement, or to check whether someone has used your Social Security number to get a job or to avoid paying taxes, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/statement/. If you need a copy of your Free Annual Credit Report go: annualcreditreport.com.
Stop Harassment by Collection Agencies
for Credit Problems Caused by Identity Theft!
Did you know that it is illegal for collection agencies to harass you once you have notified them that the debt is due to Identity Theft? Here are some steps to take if you find yourself in this situation:
Contact the fraud department of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your file.
Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit (www.consumer.gov/idtheft) when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
File a police report where you live.
Get a copy of the report or report number.
Contact any of the other agencies specific to your particular type of Identity Theft.
File your complaint with FTC.
Follow up in writing. Attach a police report/number along with any other documentation you may have. Send Certified Mail - Return Receipt Requested.
Below are some tips for recognizing when you have possibly been a victim of identity theft:
If you did not receive an expected bill or statement by mail - or you receive a bill for something you didn't order.
If unexpected charges occurr on your account credit cards.
If there are charges on your account from unrecognized vendors.
If posted checks appear on your Bank account significantly out of sequence.
If you receive credit cards that you didn't apply for, in your name or someone else's!
If you are denied credit or are offered less than favorable credit terms for no reason.
If you get calls from creditors or debt collectors regarding merchandise or services that you did not buy.
Different Types of Identity Theft
Identity Theft and your Driver's License Number / Fraud
If your driver's license number has been used to open accounts or verify checks, contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.
Identity Theft / Fraud Involving Your Passport
Notify the U.S. State Department's Passport Services Department of the identity theft so that it can intercept anyone ordering a new passport in your name.
When dealing with authorities regarding your Identity Theft issues:
Keep a Record
Because recovering from identity theft can be a long and complicated process, it's important to keep a record of all of your communications. If you talk on the phone, make a note of the date and who you spoke with. Send all letters by certified mail and keep copies. If you think your case might lead to a lawsuit, keep track of how much time you spend dealing with the problem.
File a Police Report if you suspect Identity Theft
Report the crime to the police or sheriff's department that has jurisdiction in your case and request a police report. Jurisdiction would be where you live, or where the crime happened. Though the authorities are often unable to assist you, a police report may be necessary to help convince creditors that someone else has opened an account in your name.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission if you suspect Identity Theft with your Social Security Number
Call the FTC's identity theft hotline at 877-438-4338 and file a complaint. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer problems itself, but your complaint may lead to law enforcement action.
Check and Monitor your Credit Reports if you suspect Identity Theft with your credit
Get your credit reports from all three nationwide credit reporting agencies and check for inquiries that you do not recognize and any new accounts opened in your name. Because new accounts may take up to six months to show up on the report, continue to monitor your credit reports on a regular basis.
Contact the Three Nationwide Credit Reporting Agencies to Place a Fraud Alert on your Credit Files
Have one of the agencies put a fraud alert on your file, which will aid in preventing new credit accounts from being opened without your express permission. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion work together so that when you place an alert with one of these agencies, your request is automatically sent to the other two agencies.
Place a Security Freeze on Your Credit Files at each of the Three Nationwide Credit Reporting Agencies
You may request a security freeze be placed on your credit files at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You will have to contact each of them individually in order to place a security freeze on your credit file with them.
Block or Close Fraudulent Accounts if you suspect Identity Theft
Contact the appropriate creditors, banks, phone companies, and utility companies and have them close and discontinue reporting the accounts. You'll probably be liable for only $50 of the fraudulent charges, but different issuers have different policies. Most creditors promptly issue replacement cards with new account numbers.
If you suspect that someone has changed your address with the post office or used the mail to commit identity theft, notify the US Postal Inspector immediately.
Fraud Involving a Business Scam
If the fraud was perpetrated as part of a business scam, contact the National Fraud Information Center at 800-876-7060.
Bankruptcy Filed Using Your Name
If someone filed for bankruptcy using your name, write to the U.S. Trustee in the region where the bankruptcy was filed. A listing of the U.S. Trustee Program's Regions can be found at www.usdoj.gov/ust, or look in the blue pages of your phone book under US Government: Bankruptcy Administration. Your letter should describe the situation and provide proof of your identity.
Stop Junk Mail, Spam Email, and Unsolicited Phone Calls
Whenever you donate money, order a product or service, or fill out a warranty card, write in large letters, "Please do not sell my name or address". Most organizations will properly mark your name in their system. Product Warranty cards are often used to collect information on your habits and income, for the sole purpose of targeting direct mail. They are not required in most situations - avoid sending them. On the telephone, ask "Please mark my account so that my name is not traded or sold to other companies".
Credit Cards and Junk Mail
Credit Card companies sell your name more than any other business. Call them and tell them to stop.
First Class Mail and Junk Mail
Cross out the address and bar code, circle the first class postage, and write "refused: return to sender". Drop in any mail box; it will be returned to the sender.
Bulk Mail and Junk Mail
The post office throws away bulk mail it can't deliver, so returning it does no good. Bulk mail is the hardest to deal with because the USPS actively provides addresses, support and encouragement to mailers. However, if "address correction requested" is written on the label: circle "address correction requested" and treat like first class mail (above).
Sexually Oriented Advertising (SOA)
The only help you'll get from the Post Office in controlling junk mail is for explicit stuff. Fill out USPS forms 1500 if you wish this type of mail to stop. You define what you find to be explicit - if that's an automobile parts catalog, the post office won't disagree with you.
Credit Offers and Junk Mail
The major credit agencies all sell aggregate credit information to any bidder. Opt out from all Credit Card offers from the agencies Equifax, TransUnion, Experian, and Innovis. Dial 1-888-5 OPT OUT (1-888-567-8688).
Catalogs and Junk Mail
Tear off the label, write your request to be removed on the label:
Call the company's toll-free number and have the mailing label handy.
Fax it to the company.
Enclose the label in the postage-paid ordering envelope. Mark envelope "ATTN: customer service". (This method is the least effective.)
AOL (America On-Line)
You could pave the nation with the free discs these people send out. Call 1-800-605-4297, 24 hours a day, to get off the list. Tell them your first name is "current", last name "resident" only.
Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes
You can get the Clearinghouse to stop clogging your mailbox by contacting customer service at 1-800-645-9242 (8:30 am to 8:30 pm EST), sending a fax to 1-800-453-0272, mailing to 101 Channel Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050, or you can send email to email@example.com. PCH will remove any number of names from a specific address, but you have to list each name exactly and insist nicely.
American Family Sweepstakes
Ed McMahon and Dick Clark will stop telling you "You have definitely won 11 million dollars (maybe)" if you call them at 1-800-237-2400. AFP is a division of Time-Warner.
Local Business & Supermarket Fliers
All mailings must be identified, by postal regulations. Each loose-leaf bundle of fliers, by postal regulations, must be delivered at the same time as an address card.
ADVO (Mail Comes with Pictures of Missing Children)
Call 1-860-285-6100 to get off the list.
You may have to send a postcard to "ADVO Consumer Assistance, POB 249, Windsor CT 06095-4176".
Click the link and fill out the form - easy, but don't give them your email address.
Call 1-800-67-TARGET to get off the list.
General Telemarketing Calls
Send a postcard to DMA Telephone Preference Service, PO Box 9014, Farmingdale NY 11735-9014, giving them your complete telephone number, area code, address, and names of people receiving calls.
Bulk Mail "for current resident or ..."
Send a postcard or letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643 Write "please activate the mail preference service", and include the name, address, and zip code. You must send individual postcards. Below are links that can also help you:
Never reply to a SPAM email. If you want to complain, use the services of a system like SpamCop to process the mail. Stamp out Get Rich Quick schemes: If you suspect fraud, send a copy of the mail to the National Fraud Information Center. If it relates to selling stocks, send to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Secure your web page: If you include a "mailto" link, as below, expect to get junk mail. Remove the "mailto" and force people to manually enter the email address. State your email address in a way readable only to humans (eg. "YOU AT YOUR-DOMAIN DOT COM" [www.obviously.com]). Secure your computer: If your PC is running a mail server (such as Sendmail or Exchange) it may be used by spammers. Spammers often hijack innocent machines. Use care with newsgroup postings: Post to a newsgroup these days, and you can be sure of getting both target SPAM (sports messages for posting in a sports group) and untargeted email. You can use an obviously false return address on postings: most news programs let you set this to whatever you want. Include your real email address (coded as above) in the body of your message. Complain to your Senator or Representative: Laws will be needed to regulate the eventual legitimate email advertising industry.
ID Theft Prevention Tips
Don't throw old bills, personal records of any kind, or credit card applications in the trash.
If you don't have a small shredder - get one and use it!
If your mailbox does not have a lock, put one on it. Outgoing mail needs to be placed in a US Mail Deposit site - NOT sitting in your mailbox.
At work, do not leave personal documents of any kind unsecured.
Do not give strangers any information about your children. Frequently, parents are asked how old their child is. Of course, the good, proud parent tells anyone "Little Johnny will be 3 next March."
Leaving credit card receipts in your glove box, or anywhere in your vehicle, is an open opportunity for theft.
Do not write down your pin numbers and carry them with you. If your wallet or purse is stolen or lost, a criminal will have all the information they need to create a disaster for you.
If your ID is stolen or lost, don't procrastinate. Every moment is critical. Notify the Motor Vehicles department ASAP, call your bank, notify all credit card vendors.
Monitor your SSN by using CheckMySSN.com. This provides early warning to potential ID theft and SSN fraud. Monthly monitoring is highly recommended - your Social Security Number report is automatically provided to you every month. Quarterly review of this report, at a minimum, is recommended.