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Identity Theft

How Identity Theft Occurs

Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to gain access to your personal information. For example they can:

  • Rummage through your trash.

  • Fraudulently obtain credit reports.

  • Steal wallets and purses.

  • Steal bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information.

  • Complete a “change of address form.”

  • Steal personal information.

  • Scam information from you

Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may:

  • Go on spending sprees.

  • Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and SSN.

  • Change the mailing address on your credit card account.

  • Take out auto loans in your name.

  • Establish utility service in your name.

  • Counterfeit checks or debit cards.

  • Open a bank account in your name.

  • Give your name to the police during an arrest.

If Your Identity’s Been Stolen

Even if you’ve been very careful about keeping your personal information to yourself, an identity thief can strike. If you suspect that your personal information has been used to commit fraud or theft, take the following steps right away.

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports. Also place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number.

    Call the toll-free fraud number of anyone of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report.

    Equifax —Call: 1-800-525-6285, and write: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374

    Experian — Call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742), and write: P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

    TransUnion — Call: 1-800-680-7289, and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

    Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

    Once you receive your reports, review them carefully. Look for inquiries you didn’t initiate, accounts you didn’t open, and unexplained activity. You also should check that information such as your SSN, address(es), name or initial, and employers are correct.

  2. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

    Credit Accounts with banks, credit card companies, other lenders, phone companies, utilities, (Internet Service Providers) ISPs, and other service providers.

    If you’re closing existing accounts and opening new ones, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords.

    If your checks have been stolen or misused, close the account.

  3. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
    Keep a copy of the report. You may need it to validate your claims to creditors. If you can’t get a copy, at least get the report number.

  4. File a complaint with the FTC.
    By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials track down identity thieves and stop them.

What is Phishing and Pharming?

The FBI has identified "Phishing" -- when criminals send fake e-mails requesting personal information and “Pharming” -- when a hacker tries to redirect a website’s traffic to a bogus website. -- as two of the most disturbing Internet scams. The FTC recommends the following steps to help avoid 'phishing' scams:

  • Don't click on a link in an e-mail that warns your account will be shut down unless you reconfirm billing information. Contact the legitimate company using a phone number or Web address.

  • Look for a padlock icon that signals a site is secure before e-mailing personal and financial information and be sure to regularly review your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.

  • Make sure the image you selected when you enrolled, appears when you sign on. This authenticates the bank’s website to you.

Contact the FTC about SPAM at UCD@FTC.GOV Go to https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/dod for questions about suspicious looking e-mail or suspected identity theft.

To learn more about Spyware and how to protect against it click on the link
www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST04-016.html



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