Identity Theft and Fraud
Never reveal personal information about yourself to anyone over the phone, through the mail, or on the internet unless you are confident you are purchasing goods or services from a legitimate, licensed, and bonded business. Phone scammers, especially, do all kinds of things to trick you into thinking they know you or members of your family. If they are pressuring you for personal information or pushing you to wire money, or buy gift cards, simply hang up. Personal information includes your address, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, loan numbers, security questions, or pin numbers.
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, please read the following recommendations:
- Report the Crime to Law Enforcement Immediately - To report the theft or abuse of your financial information or property call 911. Police will give you a case number to reference with creditors, financial institutions, or to use if further future instances occur. You will often times be required to fill out loss affidavits regarding the fraud with your bank or creditors. This is important to identify you as the victim of the loss or theft and the financial entity as the victim of the forgery or fraud. As an alternative to calling 911, you may file a report online through the CopLogic system.
- Notify Your Bank, Financial Institutions, and Creditors - The sooner you notify your bank and creditors of your lost or stolen information the sooner measures can be put in place to "flag" your accounts. Having your accounts immediately flagged will help to catch the perpetrators and protect you from being liable for any fraudulent charges. It is best to close the jeopardized accounts and open a new account disallowing criminals access to your new information. If fraudulent charges appear, call Consumer Credit Counseling Services, at 800-388-2227, to help clear your credit report.
- Credit Reporting Agencies - If you are the victim of a loss or theft, call the fraud units of the three major credit report agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Request that your credit be locked. Credit card monitoring services are also a good idea, which alert you to inquiries, new accounts, or other changes to your credit reports.
- Change Your Passwords - To protect all your accounts and personal information, change your passwords on a regular basis. If you are a victim of a crime, change all passwords immediately.
- Stolen Mail - Call 911 to make a report, or file a report online through the CopLogic system. Also consider installing a locking mailbox or getting a post office box instead.
- Guard Your Garbage - It is recommended that you shred any documents containing your personal or financial information. Criminals often peruse and occasionally steal garbage to glean useful data.
- Credit Card Fraud - Here’s a great website with tips on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of credit card fraud.