Deter, Detect and Defend your Identity "3 D's"
A. Deter by safeguarding your information
Shred financial documents and paper work with personal information before you discard them including credit card offers, credit card and debit card receipts (some still put all 16 digits on receipt) If you see the number on a receipt, like at a restaurant scratch out the first 12 before leaving the table. Protect your Social Security Card. Don't carry it in your purse or wallet. Don't write it on your checks. Only give it out when necessary. Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, over the internet unless you have initiated the contact and 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. Don't use obvious password like your birth date, your mother's 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 home.
B. Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements.
- Be alert to signs that require immediate attention:
- Mail or 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 make
- Order your credit report:
The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, a service created by these three companies, to order your free credit reports each year. Or write:
Annual Credit Report Request Serve
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
- Inspect: Your credit report. Credit reports have information about you including what accounts you have and your bill paying history.
- Your financial statements. Review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for changes you did not make.
C. Defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect a problem
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 certain changes to you existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert. Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of you credit reports. When you receive your notice of your rights, write to each company asking for a seven year extension. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Ask them to remove all inquires due to fraudulent access.
1. Close all accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
2. 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.
3. Use the Identity Theft Affidavit at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
4. Ask for written verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
5. Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
6. File a police report with the law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
7. Report your complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report will help law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
By Phone: 1-877-438-4338 or TTY: 1-866-653-4261