1. Guard your
financial information. Never give out your social security
credit card numbers, bank account numbers or any other
personal or financial information to anyone you don't know.
And guard all your receipts -- especially if they reflect your
financial account numbers.
2. Deal only
with reputable vendors. Avoid dealing with businesses you
don't know, especially when their offers come to you by e-mail
or through telephone calls from people you don't know. No
matter how good the deal may sound, walk away. Identity
thieves often pitch great deals to make sure they can lure
their victims in quickly.
your credit report often. Evidence of identity theft often
shows up before the victim even realizes what has happened.
Criminals often attempt to get credit
under other people's names or social security numbers, and
these attempts will show up on credit bureau reports.
To obtain your free
Go to www.annualcreditreport.com
877-322-8228, or mail your request to Annual Credit report
Request Service, P.O. Box 10521, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
4. Trust your
instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about doing business with
someone, or feel pressured to give up your confidential
information, walk away. It is much better to take the time to
think through an offer and to do more research, than it is to
hand over your confidential personal or financial information
to a criminal. Legitimate businesses want your repeat
business, and will gladly give you time to do your homework
What to do if You Suspect Identity Theft
If you are a victim of Identity Theft, the Attorney General
recommends that you immediately take the following steps:
Contact the police.
The first step you need to take is to report the fraud to your
local police department. This step is important for two
reasons: First, it immediately alerts local law enforcement to
the crime. Second, it establishes that you acted diligently,
and enables you to get a police report, complaint number or
other similar record, which you may need when contacting some
of your creditors. If you are not sure which law enforcement
agency to contact, please call the Attorney General's Consumer
Protection Unit at (800) 220-5424. The Consumer Protection
Unit can help you get in touch with the proper police agency,
and can answer any other Identity Theft questions you may
Promptly report the fraud to the three major credit bureaus.
Because identity thieves often attempt to obtain credit under
your identity, it is important to promptly contact the three
major credit bureaus to report the fraud. Ask each credit
bureau to take a report, and to place a "fraud
alert" on your credit report.
Also, ask each credit bureau to send you a copy of your credit
report, so you can determine the extent of any unlawful credit
activity that may have taken place using your identity. If you
already have a police report, file number or complaint number
from your local law enforcement agency, you should give that
information to the three major credit bureaus as well, to help
them investigate any disputed accounts or other reports of
3. Consider placing a security freeze on your credit
report to prevent unauthorized release.
You will have to lift the freeze using a Personal
Identification Number (PIN) when you apply for credit. The
service is free for victims of identity theft.
Request a security freeze in writing from each credit
Equifax Security Freeze
Experian Security Freeze
TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 6790
4: Contact the Fraud Department of each of your creditors and
Locate all your credit cards, your banks and other creditor
information (such as utilities, cable, etc.) and contact their
"fraud" departments. Report the fraud to each
creditor, even if your account with that creditor has not been
directly affected by the identity theft, to ensure each
creditor is aware of the potential of a crime taking place.
Ask each creditor to place a "fraud alert" on your
account. If there are
charges on your accounts that are illegal, most creditors will
also ask you to submit a written report of the fraud, along
with a police report, or a police complaint number or file
number. If you need help with any of these steps, you may
contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit at
(800) 220-5424 to request the Attorney General's Identify
Theft Victim Kit. This kit contains everything you need to
promptly report identity theft, and also includes an Identity
Theft Affidavit which you may use to submit your theft reports
to your creditors.
Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") maintains a
confidential, national Identity Theft database, and may also
be able to assist in pursuing identity thieves through federal
channels. The FTC may be reached at (877) IDTHEFT