ID Theft Prevention

What Is Identify Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.

How Your Personal Information Could Be Used
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report, receive a credit card statement and notice charges you didn't make, or until you're contacted by a debt collector.

How Identity Theft Effects the Victim
Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities or be denied loans for education, housing, or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they didn't commit.

What To Do
File a police report. A police report is critical in helping victims get rid of fraudulent debts and clear up their credit reports.

Call the toll-free fraud number of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on their credit report. Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening additional accounts in victims’ names. As soon as the credit bureau confirms the fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified to place fraud alerts. Once a fraud alert is placed, victims are entitled to order one free copy of their credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.
Company Address / Phone
Equifax P.O.Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Equifax Website
Experian (TRW) P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
Experian (TRW) Website
TransUnion Corp P.O. Box 6790
 TransUnion Corp Website

Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. When disputing new unauthorized accounts, many banks and creditors will accept the ID Theft Affidavit, which will save victims valuable time in the recovery process.

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission using the online complaint form or call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free at 1.877.ID.THEFT (438.4338), TTY at 1.866.653.4261, or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.