How To Protect Yourself
Identity theft is stealing someone’s personal information and using it to commit fraud or theft. Identity theft is a serious crime.
Identity thieves prey on anything that reveals personal information. They use it to find out a victim’s:
- Address and date of birth
- Social Security number
- Telephone or calling card number
- Bank account or credit card numbers
It’s a growing problem. For the victim it can mean:
- Denial of credit and loan applications
- Bad credit ratings
- False arrest and criminal records
- High costs correcting the problem
- Devastating loss of property and security
Tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Beware of identity thieves. Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the contact.
- Ask questions before revealing personal data.
- Check your billing statements and watch out for extra charges.
- Lighten your wallet; carry only the credit cards and personal information you need.
- Protect your mail and other documents; use a local post office box to deposit outgoing mail; collect incoming mail promptly; shred unwanted credit card and other offers, receipts and personal records before throwing them away.
Monitor your credit report. Here’s how to contact the three main credit bureaus in the U.S.:
- Equifax (www.equifax.com). For credit reports call: 1-800-685-1111. To report fraud call: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian (www.experian.com). For credit reports and to report fraud call: 1-888-397-3742.
- TransUnion (www.transunion.com) For credit reports call: 1-800-916-8800. To report fraud call: 1-800-680-7289.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline. Call 1-877-438-4338 or 1-202-326-2502 (TDD). Or visit their web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft