How To Fight Identity Theft

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What is Identity Theft?

  • It occurs when someone steals your personal information – e.g., credit card or Social Security number – and uses it fraudulently
  • It can cost you time and money
  • It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name

How can someone steal my Identity?

Identity thieves may:

  • Go through your trash or “dumpster dive”
  • Steal your wallet or purse
  • Steal your mail or submit a change of address form for your mail
  • Use “phishing” or fake emails to get you to provide personal information
  • Steal personnel records from their employers

1/3 of Identity Theft victims reported to FTC in 2005 were under 30 years old

Special concerns for Students:

  • Dormitory burglaries
  • Driver’s license/student ID theft
  • Credit card offers
  • Use of Social Security numbers for identification

What can be done?

The Federal Trade Commission has created a program with these points

DETER Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information

DETECT Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements

DEFEND Defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect a problem

Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information

  • Shred financial documents before discarding them
  • Protect your Social Security number
  • Don’t give out personal information unless you’re sure who you’re dealing with
  • Don’t use obvious passwords
  • Keep your information secure

Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements

Be alert

  • Mail or bills that don’t arrive
  • Denials of credit for no reason

Inspect your credit report

The law entitles you to one free report a year from each nationwide credit reporting agencies if you ask for it

Note that this is the ONLY one you should go to for your free report: There are many look-alikes out there that will give you a free report and then sign you up for a recurring monthly charge for further reports. Also when you are forwarded from www.AnnualCreditReport.com to the individual credit reporting sites, be careful what you click on. There are many opportunities to sign up for services for which you will be charged. It is not obvious what you should click on to get your free report. Please read carefully. 

Click here for information from the FTC on your consumer rights

Inspect your financial statements

  • Look for charges you didn’t make

Defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect a problem

  • Place a 90-day “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports by calling any one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies below or following this link.
Organization Phone
Equifax 800 525-6285
Experian 888 397-3742
TransUnion 800 680-7289
SSN-Fraud 800 269-0271
  • Placing a fraud alert on you account entitles you to a free credit report from each agency. Order these reports and them carefully. Look for fraudulent activity.
  • Close accounts that have been tampered
  • File a police report
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission

For more information

  • Online: www.ftc.gov/idtheft
  • By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT
  • By mail: 
Identity Theft Clearinghouse 
Federal Trade Commission 
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, 
NW Washington, DC 20580
  • More Identity Theft contact numbers