Identity Theft – Reducing the Risk – Part 3

This is the third of a three part series on ways to combat identity theft. Part 1 and Part 2 contained descriptions and examples of various types of identity theft. This third part continues various methods of protection.

Credit Protection

General Prevention Tips

  • Check your credit reports at least once a year
  • Follow up if bills don’t arrive on time
  • Purchase a shredder
  • Do not print your SSN on checks
  • Do not carry your SSN in your wallet/purse
  • Keep items that contain your personal information in a safe place

Other Prevention Tips

  • Carry only the credit/debit cards you need when shopping
  • Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus
  • Sign up for the Do-Not-Call registry
  • Opt out of sharing your financial information when given the opportunity
  • Pick up new checks at the bank
  • Never toss credit card receipts in a public trash container
  • When creating passwords and PINs, use a combination of letters and numbers – memorize them!
  • Shield your hand when using an ATM card

Prevention for Computer Users

  • Password-protect your computer and encrypt files that contain sensitive personal data
  • Keep browser, firewall, virus and spyware protection up to date
    • Run anti-virus and anti-spyware software weekly
  • When shopping on-line, be sure you are dealing with a reputable company
  • When disposing of you computer, physically destroy the hard drive

Protection When Traveling

  • Have post office stop mail delivery
  • Carry only the checks and credit cards you will need
  • Make a list of items in your wallet/purse and store in a safe place where you are staying (do not include account numbers). Include phone numbers of the companies
  • Lock up documents in your hotel
  • Do not keep your PIN with your ATM card

Handling Information Responsibly

  • Shred all documents with sensitive info
  • Carefully review your monthly statements
  • Find out how your bank safeguards your data and insist that paper and magnetic files be destroyed. Do the same for companies that issue loan or credit applications
  • Store cancelled checks and other personal information in a safe place

What To Do If You Are an Identity-Theft Victim

  • Contact the fraud departments of one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file
  • Close the accounts that have been affected
  • File a police report
    • Send copies to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime
  • File complaint with the FTC and Post Office

Identity Theft Contacts

  • Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission
  • Contact fraud units of the credit bureaus
    • Equifax: 800-525-6285
    • Experian: 888-397-3742
    • Trans Union: 800-680-7289
  • For fraudulent use of checks
    • Checkwrite: 800-766-2748
    • Chexsystems: 800-428-9623
    • Equifax Telecredit: 800-437-5120
    • National Processing Co.: 800-526-5380
  • For stolen passports, contact Department of State
    • 877-487-2778
    • http://travel.state.gov/passport/lost/us/us_848.html

Identity Theft Procedures

  • Use a notebook as telephone log and keep notes on each contact
  • File a police report in each jurisdiction where theft occurred
  • Close all affected accounts. Phone each company’s fraud division. Request copy of relevant fraud-dispute form. Complete and return immediately.
  • Request a new driver’s license from the DMV and have a fraud report attached to your driving record
  • Send a certified, return receipt requested letter to each person contacted summarizing each conversation
  • Notify check-verification firms about any fraudulent checks
  • Order credit reports from http://www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228. In writing, get annual credit request form from http://ftc.gov/credit. Fill out and mail to Annual Credit Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
  • Have fraud alerts placed on all accounts and make sure new ones are not opened unless you are notified
  • Refuse to pay fraudulent charges. Documenting the above helps.
  • Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center at 858-693-7935 or at http://www.idtheftcenter.org for more tips

Do-Not-Call Registry

  • Register at https://www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 from the number you want to register
  • Will not stop political, charitable, newspaper, and survey calls
  • Call 888-CALLFCC to file a complaint with the FTC

Opt Out

  • FTC’s Do Not Call Registry
  • Stop Credit Card Offers
    • 888-5-OPT-OUT
  • National mailing lists
  • For problems with a mail order company, write to
    • Mail Order Action Line
      1111 19th Street, N.W., Suite 1100
      Washington, DC 20036

 


2 thoughts on “Identity Theft – Reducing the Risk – Part 3

  1. This info may not fall under the identity theft category, but I will share it. We were getting lots of junk phone calls including cons. I heard of nomorobo.com website on my local TV news program. Apparently it is a free website produced by the winners of the FTC Robo Call Challenge. You might check it out.

    1. Hi Bill, Thanks for the tip.

      I have looked into nomorobo.com, but it will not work with our land line. They need a simultaneous ring to happen, sort of like Google Voice. We could set the phone up with our provider, ooma.com, to cull robot calls, but they would then charge us $9.00/month to do it. Nomorobo.com could probably work with our cell phones, but I hardly ever get calls on my phone, and my wife lets most of her wireless calls go to voice mail.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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