Skimming - They steal
credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage
device when processing your card.
Phishing - They pretend to be
financial institutions or companies and send spam or
pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal
Changing Your Address - They
divert your billing statements to another location by
completing a "change of address" form.
- They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank
and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers;
and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel
records from their employers, or bribe employees who
thieves by safeguarding your information.
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with
personal information before you discard them.
- Protect your Social Security number. Donít carry
your Social Security card in your wallet or write
your Social Security number on a check. Give it out
only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another
- Donít give out personal information on the
phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless
know who you are dealing with.
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails;
instead, type in a web address you know. Use
firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to
protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date.
www.onguardonline.gov for more information.
- Donít use an obvious password like your birth
date, your motherís maiden name, or the last four
digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place
at home, especially if you have roommates, employ
outside help, or are having work done in your house.
Detect suspicious activity
by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and
Be alert to signs that require immediate attention:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected
- Unexpected credit cards or account statements
- Denials of credit for no apparent reason
- Calls or letters about purchases you did not
Inspect Your credit report - Credit reports
contain information about you, including what accounts
you have and your bill paying history.
- The law requires the major nationwide consumer
reporting companiesóEquifax, Experian, and
TransUnionóto give you a free copy of your credit
report each year if you ask for it.
www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call
1-877-322-8228, a service created by these three
companies, to order your free credit reports each
year. You also can write: Annual Credit Report
Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA
Your financial statements - Review financial
accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for
charges you did not make.
Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it.
Place a "Fraud Alert" on your
credit reports, and review the reports carefully.
The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures
before they open new accounts in your name or make
changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide
consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for
placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one
company is sufficient:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of
your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies
you havenít contacted, accounts you didnít open, and
debts on your accounts that you canít explain.
Close accounts. Close any accounts that have
been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- Call the security or fraud departments of each
company where an account was opened or changed
without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies
of supporting documents.
- Ask for verification that the disputed account
has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your
conversations about the theft.
File a police report. File a report with law
enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may
want proof of the crime.
Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
Your report helps law enforcement officials across
the country in their investigations.