PROTECTING AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT
personal identity information may allow an unscrupulous person to open unauthorized charge
accounts, or order goods and services and bill them to you without your permission.
They may even access your personal or business accounts for withdrawals or
purchases, to secure loans, to hide illegal funds, or to remain secluded from law
enforcement or gain employment by circumventing criminal background checks. Each
of us has personal information worth stealing, and our exposure can be great;
however, we can minimize our risk by knowing how to prevent and respond to
HOW CAN SOMEONE GET MY INFORMATION?
identity information is used to process practically every non-cash
transaction: ATM machines, bills and receipts thrown in
the trash, public records, unsecured mailboxes, stolen pocketbooks, internet
transactions, phony notices and requests from governmental agencies, telephone
solicitations, and marketing ploys promising prizes, personnel files, obituaries,
and medical records, etc. The creativity of the criminal mind can be remarkable.
WHAT PERSONAL INFORMATION DO THEY WANT?
- Social Security number
- birth date
- driver's license number
- mother's maiden name
- bank account or credit/debit card numbers
- PIN numbers
- log-on names/I.D.s
HOW CAN I PREVENT PEOPLE FROM GETTING MY PERSONAL
While no one is completely safe from identity theft, there
are some simple measures that can be taken to help secure your personal
information and guard against identity theft. If someone has stolen your
information, catching it early is the key!
- Instead of signing your credit cards, write “Photo ID Required” on the signature block.
- If asked to provide a phone number, give your work number instead of your home number.
- If you pay your bills by check, do NOT write the entire account number on your check – just write the last four digits of your account number. This way, anyone handling your check will not gain access to your account number or be able to connect it with your name.
- Photocopying both sides of your passport, ID, and all cards in your purse/wallet is a good idea. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Do not keep this in your purse or car. The toll free number to report fraud is on the back of your cards. If they’re stolen, a photocopy will help you report fraud sooner.
- Always shred discarded credit card applications or other
items received in the mail. These can contain special information or be
submitted without your permission.
- Install a locked mailbox with a slot.
- Always instruct your credit card issuers and anyone else
you purchase goods or services from that you do not wish them to share or sell
your information with/to others.
- Review your credit reports at least once a year. Please
see back panel for credit reporting agency information.
- Never give personal information to someone over the
telephone. Always ask them for a physical location and get the full name of
anyone you deal with.
- Don't place your mail in an open container: take it to
the post office or neighborhood mailbox.
- Remove your name from marketing lists, surveys, etc. See
telephone contacts on the back of this brochure.
- Create a log of all credit and personal information,
including credit card numbers, customer service telephone numbers, and credit
reporting agency contact information. Keep this information in a locked
container for quick access in case of an emergency.
- Do not pre-print your driver's license number, Social
Security number or phone number on your checks.
- Always check the reputation of any company you do
business with on-line. Also look for a contact address located within the
continental United States. It is much more difficult to retrieve funds or
information transferred out of the country. Be cautious of any business that
only has a P.O. Box for an address.
- Always shred your credit card receipts, ATM receipts and
unretained bills. Never throw them away at the point of sale.
- Check all your billing statements and bank statements for
unauthorized charges or withdrawals. If you don't receive a regular statement
on time, contact your credit card company or bank immediately.
- Do not write account numbers on checks or envelopes.
- If your credit card company sends convenience checks, you
may want to request that it stop and shred the unused ones.
- Conceal your hand when entering PINs of any kind into a
public machine or telephone.
- If you are transacting business over the internet always
print out and save the receipt and transaction information.
- Always make your internet purchases over a secure
connection and make purchases by credit card.
- Never give out your log-on name or password to someone
who asks you via e-mail or instant message.
- Never send your personal information, credit card numbers
or account numbers via e-mail or instant message.
- If any firm uses your Social Security number or other
personal number as an account number, ask them to change it.
- Check Social Security statements for inaccuracies.
- Do not use your birthdate as your pin number.
- Ask for information protection policy statements from
each business that has your personal information, including your doctors.
- Do not exchange personal information for prizes. They
should be free ... no strings attached.
- Do not carry a list of PIN numbers in your purse or
- REMEMBER if it sounds too good to be true ... it is
probably a scam.
- You may want to contact the Public Utility Commission of
Texas and place yourself on the "Texas No Call List." Cost is $4.80.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY INFORMATION HAS BEEN
Please remember -never confront a criminal yourself. Contact your
local law enforcement agency, give them all the information you have about the
person who has stolen your information, and ask them to make a report.
Here are some other things you should do:
- Get and keep a copy of the police report. You may need it
for proof of the crime.
- For any credit card information that has been stolen,
contact the fraud/security department of the creditor or financial institution
and close that account.
- If your pocketbook or checks are stolen, notify DPS, the
Social Security Administration, local law enforcement agency, credit card
companies, and your bank.
- Contact all three credit reporting agencies and place a
fraud alert on your credit. You should do this by telephone as soon as
possible and then follow up in writing. You may wish to send them an ID theft
affidavit and copies of the police report. (Contact our office for a copy of
this affidavit.) Make sure written communication is sent certified mail.
- Send only copies of documents you have to the
institutions you are contacting, unless an original is specifically required.
Keep your originals in a safe place.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission, which keeps a
database of identity thefts.
- If you do have to clean up fraudulent accounts on your
credit, make sure that all communication is done in writing and sent by
certified mail, return receipt requested.
- Keep a close eye on your bank account. There is a time
limit for disputing fraudulent checks or withdrawals.
- Finally, keep a detailed log of all your contacts with
authorities and financial institutions.
HOW DO I CONTACT THESE INSTITUTIONS?
Here is a
list of contact information and resources you may wish to use:
Social Security Administration:
Order Statement: 800-772-1213
Federal Trade Commission:
Oversees the credit
bureaus and maintains a database of identity thefts.
You may also obtain a
copy of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Attorney General of Texas:
U.S. Postal Service:
Investigates mail fraud.
Postal Inspector: 800-275-8777
Privacy Rights Clearing house
1717 Kettner Ave.,
San Diego, CA 2101
Internet Fraud Complaint Center
TO REMOVE YOUR NAME, FROM MAIL AND PHONE LISTS:
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735
P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735
National Do Not Call Registry
Credit Bureau Opt Out
CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES
CSC Credit Services (Equifax)
TO REPORT FRAUD: 800-272-9281
P.O. Box 674402, Houston, TX
Request Credit Report 800-759-5979
TO REPORT FRAUD:888-397-3742 or
P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-2104
Request Credit Report
888-397-3742 or 800-682-7654
P.O. BOX 2000, Chester, PA. 19022
To obtain a copy of the identity theft affidavit or if you
wish to report an identity theft please contact our office at:
Arlington Police Department
620 W. Division St.