Didyou know

More identity thefts occur from old fashioned methods, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, as opposed to modern and high-tech methods, such as phishing and data breaches.

The majority of identity theft incidents go unreported to law enforcement, but an official police report is one of the best sources to prove to you don't owe debts taken out in your name.

On this page you will find useful tips and information on how to prevent identity theft as well as what to do if you suspect you are an identity theft victim.

 

If You Suspect that you're a Victim of Identity Theft:

If you believe that your mail has been compromised then report the incident to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

If you believe that counterfeit credit cards or hackers are responsible then report it to the U.S. Secret Service.

Notify all of the major credit reporting bureaus that you want a "fraud alert" on your file. This will expire every 90 days so you must repeatedly contact them for this service. A credit freeze is a stronger option that "freezes" all access to your credit file. It costs $30 to freeze your file and this should be done with each credit buruea, it will cost an additional $30 to unfreeze it.

Closing some or all of your accounts is an option but it often requires a lot of time and effort. The least you should do is change all passwords and PINs.

Discuss your case with others and keep track of the names and numbers of these people. You should also save all information and supporting documents to help your case if it goes to court.

Report the ID Theft online with the Federal Trade Commission at at this link, or call the Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT. They have counselors ready and willing to help you resolve financial and other related problems that could result from this crime.

 

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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the world and has become a major concern in the minds of consumers around the world. Since 2001, Identity Theft has been the Top Complaint at the Federal Trade Commission. Identity theft occurs when a fraudster steals key pieces of sensitive personal information such as someone's name, address, date of birth, social security number or mother's maiden name to obtain access to financial accounts and resources. The time and money involved to repair damaged credit is significant and consumers must be aware of the methods that organizations have implemented to protect them.

The major credit card brands – American Express, MasterCard, VISA and Discover – along with banks, government agencies, merchants and consumers have been battling identity theft for sometime now, but to no avail. Fraud rings around the world have attacked financial institutions, nonprofits, government agencies and merchants to steal sensitive information and then sell the information in the dark corners of the internet. The seriousness of the situation should not be underestimated.

At The Fraud Practice, we hope to promote consumer and merchant awareness on identity theft through statistical information, steps on how to protect yourself, and the steps to take if your information has been compromised.

For more information on Identity Theft Statistics please visit: Identity Theft Statistics.

For more information on Identity Theft Protection Services please visit: Identity Theft Protection Services.

Critical Steps to Protect Your Identity:

Never leave your mail in the mail box overnight or on weekends. Purchase a mailbox with a lock if possible.
Deposit your outgoing mail in a certified United States Postal Service collection box or at the physical post office.

Tear up or shred documents that contain personal information. Make sure the personal information can't be read by a fraudster.

Obtain your free credit report every year from all three credit bureaus (i.e. Equifax, Experien, TransUnion). They claim to all share the same database but studies have shown that one may possess information that the others don't. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report from each of the bureaus every 12 months. At minimum I reccommend getting one free credit report every 4 months from a different credit bureau.

Never use ATM PIN numbers at places other than an ATM. Foodstores and other establishments typically have simple security systems that can become compromised fairly easily.

Never input financial account numbers into a website unless you see a lock icon in the bottom stripe of the web site. Also, pay attention to the URL address and make sure it is legitimate, spelled correctly and it says "https" when entering financial data.


Additional Tips for Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft:

Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards.

Monitor you bank accounts and credit cards online through their corresponding Web sites. The faster you can spot suspicious activity, the faster and easier it is to recover from the fraudster's activities.

Install and regularly update firewall, browser, operating software, anti-spyware, and anti-virus security software on your personal computer.

New credit cards must be signed immediately! If you don't, someone else might.

Never carry passwords or social security cards with you... Memorize relevant information such as your SSN, PIN and other passwords.

Never provide sensitive financial information over the phone or Internet unless you placed the call directly to a verified and trusted location, such as the number provided on the back of a credit card.

Don't use predictable passwords like birth date. Create passwords with symbols, numbers and upper/lower case letters. Be creative not predictable.

Never leave receipts behind anywhere. ATMs, financial institutions and gasoline pumps are hunting grounds for identity thieves.

Check expiration dates on your credit cards. If you haven't received a new credit card before the old one expires then contact your card company. This is also applicable to your monthly statements and bills.

Check credit card receipts against monthly bills for financial accuracy.

Fraudsters still rely heavily on traditional methods of stealing mail with sensitive information. Move your financial transactions online by turning off paper invoices, statements and checks and replacing them with electronic versions where offered.

Consumers have the right to opt-out of pre-approved credit offers, which can be stolen from mailboxes and used to easily obtain a credit card in someone else's name. To opt-out of pre-approved credit offers visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-567-8688

AdditionalResources

  • Best Practices for Protecting Yourself When Transacting Online.

    Going online is a part of everyone's daily life today, but not everyone understands what, where and how they are at risk. This training session provides an introduction to common attacks that occure when going online such as phishing, pharming, account takeovers, malware, spyware, antivirus and identity theft. Learn about some of the best practices to get yourself more comfortable with companies or people you may interact with online.

  • Use your PIN only at ATMs or you’ll pay the price.

    Many credit and debit cards boast zero fraud liability but there are fundamental differences in the legal obligations of issuers to cover fraud losses between credit cards and debit cards. Additionally, zero fraud liability may only apply to signature-based debit transactions for certain card brands.

  • Introduction to Ecommerce Fraud Fundamentals.

    Provides participants foundation level knowledge about the theories, best practices and terminology surrounding electronic payment fraud. Presented in a standard format covering the history of eCommerce Fraud, consumer fraud, merchant fraud, fraudster motivation, fraud trends, identity verification and phishing.

QuickLinks

  • FTC Identity Theft Recovery Information - Providing resources, videos and presentations on how to recover from an identity theft.
  • IdentityTheft.gov - Additional site created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for reporting identity theft and formulating a recovery plan.
  • Alarms.org Guide for Identity Theft Protection - Includes Stolen Identity Checklist Infographic
  • AnnualCreditReport.com - Official site to help consumers to get their free credit report which can be obtained every 12 months from each of the credit reporting companies.
  • OptOutPrescreen.com - The official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from to consumers to Opt-In or Opt-Out of firm offers of credit or insurance.
  • DMAchoice.org - The Direct Marketing Association's mail preference service page, a great way to reduce junk mail.