Identity TheftIdentity Theft

The crime of identity theft is on the rise. By using a variety of methods, criminals steal credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers, ATM cards, telephone calling cards and other key pieces of individuals' identities. They use this information to impersonate their victims, spending as much money as they can in as short a time as possible before moving on to someone else's name and account information.

Take these preventive steps to minimize your losses in case of identity theft:

If You Become A Victim of Identity Theft

If you lose your wallet, or believe that your identity has been otherwise compromised, follow these steps.

If you use an ATM card for banking services, get a new card, account number and password. Do not use your old password. When creating a password, avoid such commonly used numbers as the last four digits of your Social Security number and your birthdate.

If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to TeleCheck, National Processing Company (NPC) or Equifax.

You may want to change your driver's license number if someone has been using yours as identification on bad checks. When requesting a new number from the Department of Motor Vehicles, you might be asked to prove that you have been financially damaged by the theft of your driver's license.

The nearest office of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service might be able to give you advice on removing fraudulent claims from your credit report. Call (800) 388-2227.

Monitor your credit reports regularly even after your file appears to be clean. Sometimes thieves go dormant for a while, then reappear in dealing with the authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, including dates and names. Send correspondence by certified mail. Keep copies of all letters and documents. Provide your police report number to expedite reporting the crime. Consider seeking legal counsel, especially if you have difficulty clearing up your credit history or your case is complex and involves a lot of money.


Credit reporting bureaus

Equifax (800) 525-6285
Experian (888) 397-3742
Trans Union (800) 680-7289
Remember that you are entitled to a free credit report if you are a victim of identity theft, if you have been denied credit in the past 60 days, if you receive welfare benefits, or if you are unemployed.

Social Security Administration
If your SSN has been used fraudulently for employment purposes, report the problem to the Social Security Administration at (800) 269-0271. You may order your Earnings and Benefits Statement by calling (800) 772-1213. Unfortunately, the SSA has no procedures in place to deal with non-employment types of SSN fraud, such as credit application fraud. For extreme cases of identity theft, they may be willing to change your SSN.

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