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IDENTITY THEFT:
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CREDIT
& PROPERTY
According to the FBI, identity theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the United States, with
hundreds of thousands of new cases occurring every year. Victims have spent months or even years
and thousands of dollars trying to straighten out the problems that result from such crimes.

What Is Identity Theft? Sources of Theft
Identity theft means using someone else’s identity Identity thieves have a number of tools in their
information to defraud others. Once key identity arsenal. Once they have the information needed,
information is acquired, a thief uses it to open up they can use your existing credit or open new
credit accounts, obtain loans and wreak havoc on accounts in your name and begin running up
the victim’s credit and name. extensive bills. Here are some of their sources:
Here are some of the warning signs that your • Stealing mail from postal trucks, collection
identity information has been stolen: boxes and apartment mailbox panels
• Receiving collection calls to pay bills that you • Rerouting your mail to a location where it can
never incurred be easily accessed without your knowledge
• Being rejected for new credit • Finding important personal information in the
• Being unable to obtain a new job trash
• Incurring unexplained credit card charges, bounced
checks and overdrafts to your bank accounts • Acquiring financial information and credit card
numbers stored in your computer
• Filing of bankruptcy in your name
• Bribing employees or breaking into the files
of banks, credit card companies, employers
ID Theft Affidavit and post offices, in order to obtain sensitive
information about you
To simplify submitting theft reports to different
companies, a standard form was prepared by a • Altering the figures on your bank checks or
group of credit grantors, consumer advocates obtaining blank copies of your checks
and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). When • Posing as a landlord or employer to obtain
properly completed, this form contains the crucial your credit report
information needed by many creditors. The form
consists of two parts, an ID Theft Affidavit and a • Finding information about you on the Internet
Fraudulent Account Statement. For each account
fraudulently opened, you will need to create a • Stealing purses and wallets containing identity
fraudulent account report. information
• Posing as a government agent or police officer
For more information and a copy of the forms to “verify” or “collect” important information
visit: www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/ about you
affidavit.pdf or call the FTC at 877.438.4338.

www.socrates.com

����������������� Information That You Need to Protect Stopping Theft Before It Starts Much of the following information. your accounts can be cards in a safe place—never leave recipes at accessed and your credit can be compromised. Social Security and personal identification numbers (PIN) Employer files with banks. records Birth date or anything else that can be seen easily by strangers—do not have your number printed on your checks Protecting Information on Your Computer • Mail letters and packages at the post office— do not use your home mailbox for pickup Large amounts of personal information are stored • Stop mail delivery when away for extended in your computer. Information. when these are used in conjunction with a credit card • Place receipts. www.com . including Ways to Protect Your Identity your bank account and Social Security number Here are some methods to deter or stop should rarely be given out. block the screen and Birth certificates or immigration documents keyboard from those behind you Bank or brokerage account information • Use an alphanumeric mix for passwords Credit card numbers known only to you Information on credit card applications • Only share your credit card. However. credit card numbers and extra or Social Security number.socrates. such as identity theft. To protect this information and periods yourself: • Notify creditors of missing statements or • Update your computer virus protection program tampered mail against the latest viruses traveling the Internet • Regularly review any discrepancies in your files with the three credit reporting agencies • Never open files attached to e-mails from strangers and be cautious of files from friends • Carry only personal information and credit cards you absolutely need • Protect high-speed Internet connections with a firewall to reduce hijacking or viruses • Obtain bank checks that are very difficult to alter • Use a secure browser with up-to-date encryption capabilities during online financial transactions • Avoid storing financial information on your laptop in case of theft—if such information is TIP: Keep track of your billing statements needed in your computer. Make these a routine part of your mother’s maiden name and your birth date. automatic teller machines (ATM) or gasoline pumps Name and address • Shred sensitive material before discarding— including prescreened credit offers Social Security number • When using an ATM. your daily life: are not considered sensitive. always lock it with an and check with your creditors when your alphanumeric password statements don’t arrive on schedule. credit card companies and Mother’s maiden name employers Real property owned • Request that your Social Security number be removed from your driver’s license.

you may be liable for the entire bill. Call Your Credit Card Company • It will immediately suspend the existing account and issue you a new account number and card • Ask the credit card company to advise the appropriate organizations and authorities Follow Up with a Letter to Your Credit Card Company That Lists: • Your credit card number • Your complete name. If you fail to report it. and take whatever steps are necessary to stop the illegal use of the card • Your signature to make the authorization valid www. address and phone number • When the card was stolen • The circumstances under which the card was lost or stolen • The date and time that you reported the theft over the phone • That the credit card company is authorized to notify all appropriate authorities. Use the following for your records: Agency/Company Person Date Telephone Conversation What to Do If Your Credit Card Is Lost or Stolen If you report a lost or stolen credit card right away. you should keep track of all credit companies and agencies that you have contacted by phone or mail regarding any identity theft. ����������������� Sample Contact Sheet Additionally. your maximum liability is $50 under federal law.socrates.com .

socrates. what. Type of complaint d. when and how) of the crime IMPORTANT NOTE: Obtaining a new Social Security number doesn’t solve the debt problem. providing certain procedures are followed including: • A certified letter (with return receipt) must be sent to the “billing inquiries department” (not the address for sending your payments) of the company in question with pertinent information about the error (name. account number and a description of the billing problem) • This letter must reach the creditor within 60 days of the error appearing on your statement. even if the thief has changed your mailing address and you haven’t received a statement What to Do If a Thief Uses Your Social Security Number • Contact the Social Security office and ask it to investigate the fraudulent use of your Social Security number • Provide the Office of Inspector General with as much information about the fraud as possible. In fact. where. including: a. you need to follow up with a letter because the Fair Credit Billing Act absolves victims of mistakes or fraudulent use of credit cards. Statement of allegation (who. Relevant information about you (name and address) b. Applying for credit with a new Social Security number may result in rejection.com . address. ����������������� Why You Should Write to Your Credit Card Company after Calling After the theft or loss of your card. Government agencies affected by your allegations (Medicare and National Institute of Health) c. why. it may create new problems for you. because you lack history with the new number. What to Do When a Credit Bureau Report Has Errors • Contact the credit bureau by phone and in writing and request that the incorrect information be corrected and any disputed information that can’t be verified is deleted from your record • Obtain a copy of the correction after it has been recorded on your credit report • Ask the credit bureau to send notices of corrections to everyone who received your report in the past 6 months • Have a copy of your dispute filed with your credit report if your dispute is unresolved so the creditors can see your side of the issue www. or your old card number may be linked to your new one and the errors in your credit report will just follow you.

driver’s license.4936 Services. including any overdraft protection services and ATM accounts • Ask your bank to notify its verification service and advise the major check services not to accept the stolen checks • Your letter to the bank and to the major check verification services should contain copies of a notarized affidavit of forgery.262.certegy.6743 Comptroller of the national banks in order to ensure safe and Currency competitive banking Office of Thrift Regulates all federally chartered and many www. Agency Agency Service Web Site Telephone Federal Reserve Duties include supervising and regulating www. 33630-3046 SCANSM 7805 Hudson Rd. Woodbury. and charters www.socrates.com 800.332.occ.com 800.358.gov 800.6360 Credit Union unions. your full name.613.570. address and telephone number.9300 77210-4451 Certegy Check P. TX www.5689 727.O.ncua.scanassist.7771 800.O.3693 System banking institutions and protecting the credit rights of consumers National Charters and supervises federal credit www.9898 713. Box 4451 Houston..4506 Suite #100 55125 Federal Agencies Providing Banking Assistance If for some reason your bank isn’t cooperative. ����������������� What to Do When Your Personal Checks Are Stolen or Lost • Close your account immediately. MN www.6000 Supervision state chartered thrift institutions www. routing number.906.710. FL www.federalreserve. contact the appropriate federal agency for assistance. Inc. and the numbers on the checks that were stolen Check Verification Services Company Name Address City/State/Zip Web Site Telephone Fax Telecheck P.com 800. regulates. your bank name.gov 202.telecheck. and insures the savings in federal Administration and most state chartered credit unions across the country Office of the Supervises.452.518.com . Box 30046 Tampa.treas.treas. a police report.gov 202.337.ots.gov 703.

address. Enclosed are copies of material that support my position. telephone number. State. Sincerely.397. I believe my records have been compromised and my name has been used to open new accounts. itʼs Robert Smith.com 888.experian.3742 TransUnion LLC P. Sample Credit Bureau Letter Name Address City.8800 In your letters to credit bureaus. Social Security number. GA www.O. Zip Dear _____: The information about me in your report is incorrect (see the attached. PA 19022 www.) As a victim of identity theft.com .O. TX 75013 www.socrates. ����������������� Major Credit Bureaus Company Name Address City/State/Zip Web Site Telephone Equifax Information P.685. Box 1000 Chester. Those charges were not made by me.com 800.com 800. and a valid verification of your current address (utility bill or driver’s license). ________________________ [Signature] Your Name Enclosures (list everything enclosed) www.O.transunion. Box 740241 Atlanta. I donʼt have a Sears account. my name isnʼt Peter Jones.916. date of birth.equifax.1111 Services LLC 30374-0241 Experian P. Zip Phone Number Date Complaint Department Credit Bureau Name Address City. Box 9595 Allen. (Explain anything that needs to be explained. only a Macy's. highlighted information). the following information needs to be included: your full name. State.) I would appreciate it if you would investigate the disputed charges promptly. (For example.

Zip (e. I have never opened a charge with Company X. it may be able to locate your car or truck by Sincerely. My personal records have stripped obviously been compromised. State. Please do not contact me further on this matter. report it to the police before moving it so that the police can record in Your Name any important evidence Contact the arresting agency (police or sheriff’s Stopping Collection Notices department) and confirm your identity by filing an • Send a certified letter with return receipt to impersonation report.. the sooner Dear _____: the theft is reported the better your chances This is to inform you that my name and Social Security number are being used to open new are of getting the car back before it’s accounts and run up huge charges in my name.com . State. Zip • Contact the police immediately. and I have contacted Company X directly. At this time. (Explain anything further that needs to be explained. and I am a victim of identity theft. insurance company Enclosed are copies of the material that support my claims. and the charges that have been applied to this account are not mine. Sample Letter to the Collection Agency What to Do about a Lost or Stolen Driver’s License • Immediately report the loss to the Department of Motor Vehicles in person Name • Bring two official forms of identification Address City. birth certificate. provide an explanation • Contact the creditor and resolve any credit errors directly to avoid continuation of the www. I have referred the theft to the • Send a copy of the police report to your proper authorities for investigation. ����������������� What to Do about.socrates.) • Contact your automobile manufacturer. • In your letter include proof that you don’t owe the creditors money • If documentation is unavailable. If the agency is located in the collection agency and request in writing another state.g. you should have your local police send for them to stop contacting you an impersonation report to that location... using GPS (Global Positioning System) ________________________ [Signature] Suggestions for Protecting Your Car Your Name • Photograph your car and mark it in an Enclosures (list everything enclosed) inconspicuous place for easy identification later • Save receipts and serial numbers for any special add-ons like a stereo system or custom tires • Call 911 if someone is seen tampering with your car What to Do about False Criminal Records • If you locate the car. passport or military Phone Number ID)— you will then be able to obtain a new license Date Consumer Affairs Division What to Do in Case of Auto Theft Collection Agency Name Address City.

expenses incurred while correcting errors to your Important: Many creditors prefer to deal with you accounts.socrates. Services for Sale Disadvantages Credit Monitoring Service—regularly reviews your Such services may not be sufficient. credit problems for a fee. www. Identity Theft Insurance—reimburses you for Know exactly the type of coverage offered. for example. services often monitor only one of the three major credit bureaus. They can’t remove negative (but true) information from your record any more than you can. like a passport.com . ����������������� Procedures to Expect When Disputing a False Criminal Report • You will be photographed. others may be taking advantage of an already negative situation. directly to resolve credit problems. Credit Repair Companies—claim to clear up your Usually do little more than you can on your own. because most credit report and notifies you of any changes. provides an Identity Theft Passport that serves as a shield against unlawful arrest or detention for crimes committed by someone else—check your state for its policy) • You should request that the district attorney’s office and the court where the crime was filed receive a copy of your amendment to the charges • You should have your name removed from the official criminal records and have the impostor’s name listed with your name as an alias • You should check state laws to learn how to clear your name from the court records—if the state has no formal procedure. fingerprinted. you should contact the district attorney’s office • You should contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and have them flag your file if your driver’s license is being used by an identity thief You Can Buy Services A number of companies offer to help you with your credit problems. which you should always carry with you (Virginia. driver’s license or visa • You will receive a clearance letter or certificate of release (if arrested). While some are useful. and the information will be compared to the impostor’s • You will need to bring official photo identification.

gov/ust 202.8347 theft U.0271 Social Security number U.socrates. Office of Investor Education also contact the brokerage and Assistance house if someone has tampered with your account U.ssa.307.S.942.S. Postal Service To report any mail fraud or www.gov/complaint.269.8688 Removal Option card or direct mail offers U. Embassy www.S.S.usps.gov/idtheft 877.consumer.S. Securities and To report investment fraud www. contact the appropriate federal agency for assistance.com 888.com .gov/passport/ 202.1399 filed in your name Recommendation: Contact the U.0430 passports.shtml 202.usdoj.567.372.S. Agency Agency Service Web Site Telephone Federal Trade Commission A clearing house for the www.sec.438. Department of State To report lost or stolen www. Trustee To report false bankruptcies www.4338 latest information on identity theft Social Security Hotline To report a compromised www.955. ����������������� Other Federal Agencies to Know If for some reason your bank isn’t cooperative.travel.state.S.8088 Exchange Commission or investment mishandling. Attorney and FBI in the area where the bankruptcy was filed TransUnion LLC’s Name To halt prescreened credit www.transunion. Consulate or U. if overseas.gov 800.com/postalinspectors 800. lost_us contact the U.

) I would appreciate it if you would investigate the disputed charges promptly. Enclosed are copies of material that support my position. I donʼt have a Sears account. (Explain anything that needs to be explained. highlighted information). (For example. Zip Dear _____: The information about me in your report is incorrect (see the attached. itʼs Robert Smith. ________________________ [Signature] Your Name Enclosures (list everything enclosed) . State. only a Macy's. Zip Phone Number Date Complaint Department Credit Bureau Name Address City. I believe my records have been compromised and my name has been used to open new accounts.) As a victim of identity theft. Those charges were not made by me. Sincerely. State. my name isnʼt Peter Jones. Name Address City.

and I am a victim of identity theft. Zip Dear _____: This is to inform you that my name and Social Security number are being used to open new accounts and run up huge charges in my name. My personal records have obviously been compromised. Please do not contact me further on this matter. and I have contacted Company X directly. State. and the charges that have been applied to this account are not mine. State. (Explain anything further that needs to be explained. I have never opened a charge with Company X.) Sincerely. At this time. Enclosed are copies of the material that support my claims. Name Address City. Zip Phone Number Date Consumer Affairs Division Collection Agency Name Address City. ________________________ [Signature] Your Name Enclosures (list everything enclosed) . I have referred the theft to the proper authorities for investigation.