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Identity Theft Reference Guide


WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?

Identity theft is when someone else uses your personal identifying information (your name, Social Security number, or any other identifying information) to obtain a credit card, loan, or any other type of credit or service in your name, or when someone else files a bankruptcy case using your name or Social Security number.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT?
- Your credit could be ruined
- You could be arrested for a crime you didn’t commit
- You could be denied employment
- You could be denied a place to live
- Your wages could be garnished
- Your driver’s license could be revoked

HOW DOES AN IDENTITY THIEF GET YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION?

- Stealing your wallet or purse
- Finding personal information in your home
- Obtaining personal information from your work
- Randomly using your Social Security number
- Listening to your telephone conversations
- Shoulder surfing
- Dumpster diving
- Stealing your mail
- Fraudulently obtaining your credit report
- Calling or sending mail or e-mail with bogus promises of prizes

HOW DOES AN IDENTITY THIEF USE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION?

- Obtain new credit cards in your name
- Forge checks and debit cards and drain your accounts
- Open new bank accounts in your name
- Obtain loans or mortgages in your name
- Receive utilities in your name
- File a bankruptcy case in your name
- Commit crimes in your name

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT?
Do not provide personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless:


– You placed the call or sent the letter or e-mail, and
– You know the company is reputable
- If you receive a call claiming you won a prize:
– Do not provide or confirm any personal information
– Do not send money
– Do not provide any credit card information
- Do not post personal information on the Internet
- Do not carry your Social Security card with you
- Guard your wallet or purse:

Do not hang your purse over the back of a chair
Do not carry more credit cards than you need
Do not carry your passport or visa
Do not carry your passwords or your PINs

- Keep your mail private:

Get a locking mailbox or a post office box for delivery of incoming mail:
Do not leave mail lying around your home
Do not allow mail to pile up if you are away
Use a U.S. mailbox or the U.S. Post Office for outgoing mail
Have new checks delivered to your bank or to your post office box, not to your home

- Be careful with personal information at home and when traveling:

Use a telephone where your conversations cannot be overheard
Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder at ATMs or pay phones
Do not use a cell phone to provide personal information

Review your credit card and bank statements each month and report fraudulent activity immediately

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR CREDIT CARDS?

- Shield your credit cards from view
- Total your receipts before signing
- Do not leave empty spaces on your receipts where additional amounts can be added
- Never sign blank receipts
- Keep copies of your receipts and compare them with your monthly statements each month

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS?

- Never sign blank checks
- Do not leave empty spaces on your checks where additional amounts can be added
- Balance your checkbook every month

CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORTS!!!

Request a credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies every year:

– Equifax (800) 685-1111
– Experian (888) 397-3742
– Trans Union (800) 916-8800

- Put passwords on all of your credit card and bank accounts
- Shred or tear up documents with any personal information
- Keep a list of your credit card and bank accounts
- Keep copies of your credit card statements, bank statements, and checks for at least a few years

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT?

- File a police report immediately!
- Contact all of your creditors:
- Close all affected accounts
- Request that creditors indicate that your accounts were "closed at the consumer's request"
- Have creditors contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts
- Stop payment on any outstanding checks
- Request new ATM cards
- Change your passwords or PINs
- Contact the three credit reporting agencies
- Place a "Fraud Alert" in your file
- Add a "victim's statement" to your file
- Request that creditors contact you before opening any new accounts in your name
- Request a free copy of your credit report
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

(877)-IDTHEFT is the FTC’s hotline for identity theft victims to file complaints and to get information to repair their credit

- Keep copies of all letters you write, records of all telephone calls you make, and receipts for any expenses you incur in repairing your credit

YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO CONTACT . . .

- Department of Motor Vehicles - if there was fraud involving your driver’s license
- Internal Revenue Service - if someone committed tax fraud in your name
- Passport Office - if there was fraud involving your passport
- Social Security Administration - if there was fraud involving your Social Security number
- U.S. Postal Service - if someone stole your mail or changed the mailing address on your credit card or bank accounts
- U.S. Secret Service - if someone committed credit card fraud in your name
- U.S. Trustee’s Office - if a fraudulent bankruptcy case was filed using your name or Social Security number

INFORMATION PROVIDED BY:

THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
Central District of California

and

THE UNITED STATES TRUSTEE’S OFFICE

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