What is identity theft?
How it happens?
What to do if it happens to you?
How to prevent it?
WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity theft occurs when a person’s identity is stolen for the purpose of opening credit accounts, stealing money from existing accounts, applying for loans, even renting apartments or committing crimes.
Victims of identify theft often aren’t aware that they’ve been targeted until they find unknown charges on their bank or credit card statements, are called by a collections agency or are denied credit.
HOW IDENTITY THEFT HAPPENS
Here are some of the most common ways identity thieves can gain access to your information. They:
• Steal wallets and purses containing your identification, credit and bank cards
• Steal your mail, including bank and credit card statements, phone bills and tax information
• Complete a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location
• Steal or illegally purchase personal information you share on the Internet
• Call you claiming to be a well know reputable company, asking for personal information.
• Send you an email, which appears to be from a reputable company, asking to respond or go to a web site and provide your personal information. This practice is know as “phishing” (pronounced “fishing”)
• Set up bogus web sites that look like familiar legitimate sites and ask you to provide personal information. This practice is known as “spoofing”.
How to Protect yourself from Identity Theft
This guide will help you take action to protect yourself against identity theft. If you’ve already been victimized, this guide will provide information about restoring your credit profile and minimize the potential for any future occurrences of identify theft.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BECOME A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT?
1. Contact one of the three credit bureaus to request that an initial 90-day fraud alert be added to your personal file. By requesting a 90-day fraud alert, anyone seeking credit in your name will have to have their identity verified. The credit bureau you contact will forward the fraud alert to the remaining two credit bureaus automatically. Once you place the fraud alert in your file you are entitled to a free credit report.
The information for each of the three bureaus is as follows:
Post Office Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Post Office Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
Post Office Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790