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Identity Theft

Help! I'm a victim of identity theft! What do I do?

Take action immediately. Document the time and money you spend on clearing your name. In some states, any person found guilty of financial identity theft will be ordered to pay restitution to the victim for any financial loss, including lost wages. Use the attached Action Plan to help yourself get organized.

  1. Contact the creditors of any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. These may include credit cards, telephone and cell phone companies and other utilities, credit unions, banks, and other lenders. It's also a good idea to contact other card issuers, like libraries, insurance providers, etc. Ask to speak with the security or fraud department, take notes concerning who you spoke with, when, and conversation highlights. Follow up in writing within 30 days.

    Instead of completing different forms for each creditor, ask each creditor if they will accept an ID Theft Affidavit provided by the FTC to report your claim. (Click here for Star One's Affidavit of Fraud.)

    Follow up with credit card companies in writing. There are specific consumer protection procedures spelled out for resolving errors with credit card companies (click here). Immediately close accounts that have been tampered with and open new ones with new PINs and passwords. Avoid using easily available information, such as the last four digits of your social security number. Call us at (408) 543-5202 or (866) 543-5202 to stop payment on unused checks.

    Ask that your closed accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" rather than "card lost or stolen." When "card lost or stolen" is reported to credit bureaus, they may interpret the loss as your fault.

    Once fraud is confirmed by a creditor, request that a letter from the creditor be sent to you and to each of the major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union) confirming the fraud.
     
  2. Contact the fraud departments of each credit bureau and tell them that you have been a victim of identity theft. Request a fraud victim information kit. Ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file (make sure it stays in place for at least one year). In addition, request that a "victim's statement" be added to your credit report. For example: "My identification has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Call me at ***-***-**** to verify any application for credit." Some credit reporting agencies require that you provide a copy of your telephone bill to verify your identity.

    You may also choose to request a "security freeze," which stops the release of any information from your file (until you remove it).

    Order a copy of your credit report at this time. A free copy should be provided to you if you indicate that you are a victim of identity theft. Ask the credit bureaus if they will provide free reports every few months.
    EQUIFAX
    www.equifax.com
    To order your report call:
    (800) 685-1111
    or write:
    P.O. Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    To report fraud call:
    (800) 525-6285
    and write:
    PO Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    TRANS UNION CORP.
    www.transunion.com
    To order your report call:
    (800) 916-8800
    or write:
    PO Box 1000
    Chester, PA 19022
    To report fraud call:
    (800) 680-7289
    and write:
    Fraud Victim Assistance Division
    PO Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92834
    EXPERIAN
    (Formerly TRW)
    www.experian.com
    To order your report call:
    (888) 397-3742
    or write:
    PO Box 949
    Allen, TX 75013-0949
    To report fraud call:
    (888) 397-3742
    and write:
    PO Box 949
    Allen, TX 75013-0949
  3. A special note about "inquiries."

    Too many inquiries on your credit report can be viewed negatively by potential creditors. As a result, wherever questionable inquiries appear, ask that they be removed from your report. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure that no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

  4. File a report with your local police department or in the community where the theft took place. Make sure the report contains a complete list of items that are missing if your purse or wallet was lost or stolen. The police report (and its case number) is the most important piece of paper you will possess throughout this process. Be sure to keep a photocopy for yourself.

Take Control

Don't stop now! It is extremely important to be vigilant about your financial affairs. Identity thieves don't care about you, and won't stop until they are forced to stop. Protect yourself in the following ways:

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at (877) ID-THEFT ((877) 438-4338, TDD (202) 326-2502. By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580) or visit their website. Doing so will allow law enforcement and other government agencies to share information, if necessary, to help resolve identity theft related problems.
  • Get a new driver's license and be sure to ask for a new license number. Tell the California DMV representative that you are a victim of identity theft. You must provide proof that your license number has been used fraudulently in order to obtain a new license number. In California, call the DMV DL/ID Fraud Hotline at (866) 658-5758 or e-mail the information to them. You need to request a DMV Transmittal Form 11 and provide the DMV with a photocopy of the police report, photocopies of the canceled checks, bills, or letters from companies or banks substantiating the fraud. You can go to the DMV or submit the forms by mail to:


    Records Security Identification Unit
    PO Box 942890 M/S G210
    Sacramento, CA 94290-0001
     

    You will be notified by mail if your request has been approved. If so, you will need to go to the DMV, present them with the approval letter you received from the Records Security Identification Unit, and follow their instructions on obtaining a new license.  Important: An e-mail or fax transmission of confidential information such as your social security number or credit card information is not fully secure. You may wish to contact the DMV by mail or telephone.  Also, have a flag put on your old driver's license number. If any traffic tickets are issued to your old license number, or any bad checks are written, you will not be affected.  If you live in a state other than California, call your local DMV or DOT, explain the situation, and ask them how to change your driver's license number.
  • It is not recommended that you apply for a new social security number. The long-term effects of doing so can be more problematic than helpful. However, you should report the fraud to the Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General.
  • Using another's social security number to secure employment is a crime. Report it to the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271. Follow up in writing within 30 days at PO Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235. Use this opportunity to request a copy of your Social Security Statement by calling (800) 772-1213.
  • Stealing or tampering with mail is a crime. If you believe your mail has been tampered with, or that an identity thief has falsified change of address forms, report it to your local post office. For more information, check the Postal Inspector's web site or call (800) 372-8347.
  • If your credit union accounts, checks, or debit, ATM or credit cards have been tampered with, close your accounts immediately and stop payment on all unused checks. Call us at (408) 543-5202 or (866) 543-5202 for instruction. Cancel your old cards and order new ones and use different PINs.
  • If you believe your securities investments or a brokerage account has been tampered with, contact your broker or account manager and report it to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or call (800) 732-0330, fax (202) 942-9634.
  • Having trouble with fraudulent cell phone charges? Contact the Federal Communications Commission at (888) CALL-FCC ((888) 225-5322) or visit their website.
  • Identity thieves may actually declare bankruptcy under your name to avoid payment of debts they've incurred! If you believe this has happened to you, write to the U.S. Trustee in the region where the bankruptcy was filed. US Trustees can be found here or in the Blue Pages of your phone book under US Government - Bankruptcy Administration.
  • In rare instances, identity thieves may create a criminal record under your name. You may need to hire an attorney to help resolve the problem. The procedures for clearing your name vary by jurisdiction.
  • Notify your utility companies to prevent a thief from using your utility bill as proof of residence when applying for new cards.

It is important to act promptly. Place your phone calls immediately and follow up in writing within 30 days.

 

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