Identity Theft is when someone, without authorization, uses your identifying information. This can include your name and date of birth, driver’s license number, social security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and it is not limited to physical cards and papers.
Identity Theft victims can suffer damaged personal credit, financial loss, inability to secure loans , and lost job opportunities. To help prevent being a victim of Identity Theft, you should shred all pieces of mail that contain any bank account or personal information, as well as credt card offers. Do not reply to e-mails, instant messages or chat rooms requesting sensitive identifying information such as passwords and account numbers. Always log directly into a business website instead of simply clicking on a link in an email, as the link could connect you to a fraudulent website.
If you are a Victim
If you are a victm if Identity Theft, you should file a police report. Victims are required to file a police report in order to dispute fraudulent transactions, correct compromised accounts, place fraud alerts with the credit bureaus and to obtain free copies of their credit reports from the credit bureaus to review. You can file a police report either with the law enforcement agency that serves the area in which you live or with the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction at the place in which your identifying information was used.
Make sure to write down the investigator’s name and the police incident number. Additionally, request a letter from the investigating agency confirming you have reported the theft and it is under investigation. Keep this letter to provide a copy to any creditors that may contact you so that you can prove you are a victim of Identity Theft. It is important to note that many law enforcement agencies will not release the police report itself due to the confidentiality of police records.
Contact a minimum of one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This will flag your credit reports and prevent further damage by the thief. While it should only be necessary to contact one of the three listed below, we recommend contacting all three. With a fraud alert on your credit report, it will require an entity or business to verify a person’s identity before issuing credit. Fraud alerts also enable you to receive free credit reports from the credit bureaus in order to identify fraudulent activity or accounts. Note, The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each major nationwide credit bureau to provide consumers with a free annual credit report which can be obtained through www.annualcreditreport.com. The credit bureau contract information is as follows:
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
You should immediately close any accounts that may have been compromised. Contact your bank and credit card companies, if necessary, and open new accounts. If there are already fraudulent charges on your accounts then request the appropriate dispute forms from the bank or other involved financial institution. Avoid using a common account security such as mother’s maiden name because a thief may already have that information. Instead, assign a unique password that you have never used in the past.
It is also recommended that you obtain and complete an Identity Theft Affidavit for each compromised or fraudulently opened account. As the victim, you are required to prepare this affidavit stating that you did not commit the fraud. A copy of this affidavit and the police incident number are often required by a creditor, business, and debt collector through which a fraudulent account or transaction has occurred. A copy of an Identity Theft Affidavit that is accepted by most businesses, creditors and debt collectors can be obtained at the Federal Trade Commission website here .
You should also report this crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center ay www.ic3.gov. In addition, we recommend a report be made with the Federal Trade Commission. It can be filed online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or you can call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).
To learn more about how to prevent and deal with Identity Theft, you can go to the Federal Trade Commission’s web site. To learn about eBay and safety in the online community, please visit the eBay’s Security Center.