The following information was
provided by the Federal Trade Commission
FIGHTING BACK AGAINST
COMMON WAYS ID
thieves use a variety of methods to steal
your personal information, including:
Diving. They rummage through
trash looking for bills or other paper
with your personal information on it.
They steal credit/debit card
numbers by using a special storage
device when processing your card.
They pretend to be financial
institutions or companies and send spam
or pop-up messages to get you to reveal
your personal information.
Your Address. They divert your
billing statements to another location
by completing a "change of address"
"Old-Fashioned" Stealing. They
steal wallets and purses; mail,
including bank and credit card
statements; pre-approved credit offers;
and new checks or tax information. They
steal personnel records from their
employers, or bribe employees who have
is a serious crime. It occurs when your
personal information is stolen and used
without your knowledge to commit fraud or
other crimes. Identity theft can cost you
time and money. It can destroy your credit
and ruin your good name.
thieves by safeguarding your information.
- Shred financial documents and
paperwork with personal information
before you discard them.
- Protect your Social Security number.
Don't carry your Social Security card in
your wallet or write your Social
Security number on a check. Give it out
only if absolutely necessary or ask to
use another identifier.
- Don't give out personal information
on the phone, through the mail, or over
the Internet unless you know who you are
- Never click on links sent in
unsolicited emails; instead, type in a
web address you know. Use firewalls,
anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to
protect your home computer; keep them
up-to-date. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for
- Don't use an obvious password like
your birth date, your mother's maiden
name, or the last four digits of your
Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a
secure place at home, especially if you
have roommates, employ outside help, or
are having work done in your house.
activity by routinely monitoring your
financial accounts and billing statements.
Be alert to signs
that require immediate attention:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected
- Unexpected credit cards or account
- Denials of credit for no apparent
- Calls or letters about purchases you
did not make
credit report. Credit reports
contain information about you, including
what accounts you have and your bill
- The law requires the major
nationwide consumer reporting
companies—Equifax, Experian, and
TransUnion—to give you a free copy
of your credit report each year if
you ask for it.
call 1-877-322-8228, a service
created by these three companies, to
order your free credit reports each
year. You also can write: Annual
Credit Report Request Service, P.O.
Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
financial statements. Review
financial accounts and billing
statements regularly, looking for
charges you did not make.
ID theft as soon as you suspect it.
- Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit
reports, and review the reports
carefully. The alert tells creditors to
follow certain procedures before they
open new accounts in your name or make
changes to your existing accounts. The
three nationwide consumer reporting
companies have toll-free numbers for
placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a
call to one company is sufficient:
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to
free copies of your credit reports. Look
for inquiries from companies you haven't
contacted, accounts you didn't open, and
debts on your accounts that you can't
accounts. Close any accounts that
have been tampered with or established
- Call the security or fraud
departments of each company where an
account was opened or changed
without your okay. Follow up in
writing, with copies of supporting
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit at
ftc.gov/idtheft to support your
- Ask for verification that the
disputed account has been closed and
the fraudulent debts discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and
records of your conversations about
- File a
police report. File a report with
law enforcement officials to help you
with creditors who may want proof of the
- Report the
theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
Your report helps law enforcement
officials across the country in their
- By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT
(438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
- By mail: Identity Theft
Clearinghouse, Federal Trade
Commission, Washington, DC 20580
To learn more about ID theft and how to
deter, detect, and defend against it, visit
ftc.gov/idtheft. Or request copies of ID
theft resources by writing to:
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, H-130
Washington, DC 20580