Identity theft (or identity fraud,) occurs when someone wrongfully acquires or uses another person's personal data, typically for their own financial gain.
In a 2006 report released by the FCC, an estimated 7,908 victims were afflicted by identity theft in 2005 ranking Pennsylvania the 24th most afflicted state in the nation.
TIPS TO AVOID IDENTITY THEFT
*Do NOT give out personal information over the phone, internet or through the mail
UNLESS you know who you are dealing with.
*Do not give out credit card information over the internet UNLESS you know the company is reputable and be sure the site is secure. To be assured of a secure site, you should see a lock icon in the lower right corner of the page.
*Destroy all documents baring any personal information don't just throw it to the curb for
garbage pickup. Ex: ATM receipts, preapproved credit card applications, utility bills
*Regularly check your credit history. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus a year.
Free Credit ReportClick the link above to get a free credit report.
*Register your phone number on the federal "Do Not Call" list. Register now by clicking the picture below!
HAVE YOU BECOME A VICTIM?
Follow these steps AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
1. IMMEDIATELY close all of the accounts that you know or believe have been
tampered with or opened fraudulently.
2. IMMEDIATELY Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three consumer reporting companies to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
CONSUMER REPORTING COMPANIES:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
The fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, too. Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order free copies of your credit reports, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.
3.File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Then, get a copy of the police report or at the very least, the number of the report. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.
4.File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- FTC's Identity Theft Hotline: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338)
- Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580