IDENTITY THEFT & FRAUD:
Information On What To Do If Your Personal Information Has Been Compromised
Request and Review Your Credit Report and
Consider Placing a Fraud Alert on Your Credit File
If your identity has been compromised, it is strongly suggested that you request and review your credit reports from the 3 nationwide consumer credit reporting companies, listed below, to be sure everything on the reports is what you authorized, and that you request a fraud alert from the companies.
Request and Review Your Credit Reports:
- You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. The reason you need to order a report from each company is because the reports may vary slightly. Go online and visit AnnualCreditReport.com at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp to request your free reports. If you request online, you can receive the credit report immediately.
- To request by telephone and have your credit reports mailed to you, call 1-877-322-8228. The reports will be mailed within 15 days.
- If you prefer, you can contact the fraud departments of each of the 3 nationwide consumer credit reporting companies or visit their websites, listed below, to request a copy of your credit report. Remember: You can request a free credit report every year from each of the 3 companies. Let the company know you are requesting your free annual copy.
- When you order your credit reports, you will be asked to verify personal information to prove your identity.
- Once you receive your reports, check to be sure everything on the report is what you authorized. If you see things on your report that you did not authorize, contact the credit reporting company via telephone, or you can write the company to report credit fraud or dispute information listed in your credit report.
Request a Fraud Alert to Flag Your Credit File:
- You can request one of the 3 nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to flag your credit file with a “fraud alert” including a statement that creditors should contact you for permission before they open any new accounts in your name. Once you ask one of the companies to place a fraud alert, the company will process your request and inform the other 2 companies so that they will also place fraud alerts in your file. A fraud alert lets potential creditors know that you may be a victim of identity theft. It can make it harder for others to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to help protect you. A fraud alert can delay your ability to obtain credit. An initial fraud alert is good for 90 days. When you place an initial alert, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the 3 nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. For more information on this report, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert
- For an extended fraud alert (one that stays in your file for 7 years), you will need to complete an identity theft report. For more information on extending fraud alerts and credit freezes, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0279- extended-fraud-alerts-and-credit-freezes
The 3 Nationwide Consumer Credit Reporting Companies: Obtaining Credit Reports, Reporting Credit Fraud, and Disputing Information on Your Credit Report:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 750131-888-397-3742 http://www.experian.com/
Trans Union Corp.
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
What Else Should I Do?
- If Checks are Involved:
- Contact your bank and consider closing any accounts in which checks have been fraudulently used. Order copies of your credit report to check for accuracy.
- When to Contact Creditors:
- Contact creditors for any accounts that have been compromised or opened fraudulently. Follow up with a letter documenting the fraud.
- What about Other Accounts:
- Consider closing any accounts that have been compromised or opened fraudulently.
- When to Contact the IRS:
- If you believe that your identity could have been used in the filing of a fraudulent tax return or if you need additional information, please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free, at 1-800-908-4490 so the IRS can take steps to secure your tax account.
- If you have not been contacted by the IRS regarding fraudulent matters, you will need to complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit. You can find the form at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf (Form 14039). Please write legibly and follow the directions on the back of the form that relate to your specific circumstances.
- In addition, you should take steps with agencies outside the IRS described in the information in this handout.
- For more information, see the special identity theft section at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection and http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection-Tips and http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft and http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Combats-Identity-Theft-and-Refund-Fraud-on-Many-Fronts
- What about Internet Security and Safety:
- If you are a victim of identity theft, change the passwords to your online banking and other financial accounts because your information may have been stolen/ acquired over the Internet.
- If your computer or email has been compromised, change your email and other computer passwords immediately. Consider purchasing or downloading a good antivirus suite with spyware protection for added security.
- Choose strong passwords using 10 characters and combinations of upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. Do not include personal information. Consider changing your passwords every 90 days. Never leave passwords near your computer or in plain sight. Use different passwords for various online activities because if one password is compromised, all may be compromised.
- Never share your password. If given a choice to set up a password “hint” on an account, do not choose something others can easily guess.
- If you do online banking or manage other accounts online, check these accounts regularly. Be sure passwords are strong.
- Be cautious when clicking on links that are emailed to you. Be skeptical when receiving emails that look as if they came from your bank or other financial institution, particularly if they ask you to verify or enter personal or financial information. Beware of scams that use links in emails directing you to a website or providing you with a phone number to call. Consider typing in your own link, go to the website yourself, or look up the phone number yourself. Legitimate customer service representatives will never ask you for personal information or passwords over email or text, and they will not call you on the telephone and ask for this information. If you receive a call, text, or email claiming to be a company that you do business with requesting your personal information, look up the telephone number and call them yourself to verify.
Where to Report Identity Theft
- Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0277-create-identity-theft-report or the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 or TTY 1-866-653-4261.
- File a report with the local police.
Where to Find More Information
- Federal Trade Commission:
Identity Theft Website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Taking Charge: What to Do if Your Identity is Stolen:
Identity Theft: What to Know, What to Do:
These websites are very resourceful and provide detailed information on how to protect your financial identity, identity theft, what to do and how to place a fraud alert. The most detailed guide listed above is entitled “Taking Charge: What to Do if Your Identity is Stolen.”
Identity Theft Helpline: 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) TTY: 1-866-653-4261