On RR, a friend of mine recently suffered ID theft when their debit card was "skimmed" (the number and info read off the card magnetically by a device). To raise awareness of ID theft, as well as to provide info on how to prevent it and deal with it should it happen, i reprint the info here taht i posted at RR:
If you suspect your identity has been stolen: here's what you should look out for and what to do:
(the following info comes from the brochure " Detect, Deter, Defend" from the Federal Trade Commission)
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal info before discarding them.
-protect your social security number. NEVER carry it in your wallet or write your number on a check. Give it out ONLY when necessary, or use another identifier
-Don't give out personal info on the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you KNOW who you are dealing with.
-NEVER click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type a web address you know. use firewalls, anti-spyware and anit-virus software to protect your home computer; keep them up to date.
Visit OnGuard Online for more info
-Keep your personal info in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
Be alert to signs that require immediate attention:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected
- unexpected credit card or account statements
-Denials of credit for no apparent reason
- Calls or letters about purchases you did not make
-Your credit report. Credit reports contain info about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history. 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. Visit http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-8228, a service created by these companies, to order your free credit reports each year. You can also write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta GA, 30348-5281
- Your financial statements: review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.
As soon as you suspect ID theft:
- 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 placinf an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
Experian: 1-888- EXPERIAN (397-3742)
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 you can't explain.
- Close Accounts: Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently. 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 documents. Use the ID theft affidavit at Deter. Detect. Defend. Avoid ID Theft to support your written statements. Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged. And keep copies about the theft.
-File a police report:file a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
-Report the theft to the federal Trade Commission; Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
Online: Deter. Detect. Defend. Avoid ID Theft
By Phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338)
By Mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse,
Federal trade Commission, Washington DC, 20580
Common Ways ID Theft Happens:
-Dumpster Diving:Thieves rummage through trash loking for bills or other paper with your personal info on it
- Skimming: Thieves steal Credit/Debit numbers via a special storage device when processing your card
- Phishing: Thieves pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal info
- Changing Your Address: Thieves divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
- "Old Fashioned" stealing: Thieves steal wallets and purses, mail including bank and credit card statements, pre approved credit offers and new checks or tax info. The also steal personnel records from their employers or bribe employees who have access.
Additionally, DO NOT use debit/Credit cards at the pumps:
Credit card thieves 'skimming' pay-at-the-pump gasoline buyers
Skimmers can be installed at the pump surreptitiously, then collected later. ALWAYS make your transaction inside. You may THINK it's "convenient" to pay at the pump, but is it REALLY worth the grief later on?