The Identity Theft Toolkit
Table of Contents
Section I - Introduction
Section II - Prevention
5. A New Mental State of Mind is Required
Section III - Recovery
8. Fraudulent Electronic Withdrawals
Section III - Recovery - cont'd
14. Credit Cards
Down load the Prefix and Appendix for this study material - here This will provide your with a complete student manual - Click this link for MS Word File in 1997 - 2003 version. Print these two PDF files out as well - PDF 1, PDF 2 (How to read credit Reports)
Down load the Prefix and Appendix for this study material - here This will provide your with a complete student manual - Click this link for MS Word File in 2007 version. Print these two PDF files out as well - PDF 1, PDF 2 (How to read credit Reports)
Identity Theft Protection & Recovery
Written by Robert Pearce©
CA Licensed Private Investigator, PI-CA-23161
Bob Pearce & Associates
The information contained in this course on Identity Theft is educational and intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice as the instructor is not an attorney, and does not represent that legal advice of any kind. The instructor is a licensed private investigator and has dealt with identity theft issues. The opinions expressed by the instructor are solely the opinions of the instructor. Furthermore, the instructor does not hold himself out to be bondable credit repair agency or service.
While much of the information provided in this course is about legal issues, it does not constitute the practice of law and should not be relied upon as such. The law changes rapidly and can differ greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Even similar laws can be interpreted differently by different courts or different jurisdictions. Bob Pearce disclaims all liability of any kind arising from the use, or misuse, of the information contained and referenced herein. Although the instructor tries to keep up with changes in laws and procedures, he does not accept responsibility for accuracy or any errors or omissions due to changes in laws and policies. If you have specific questions, please seek legal counsel to assist you with your concerns.
Think of the course as a "How To Book." A plain nuts and bolts approach to Identity Theft. You will learn what to do and how to do it. It's that simple.
The subject of identity theft can be broken down into three areas.
In the First section we will learn about the crime of Identity
Theft in general, your rights as a victim and maybe most importantly -
how to recognize if you have become a victim of Identity Theft. external
events in your life will usually tell you something is wrong and in a
big way. The goal here is to train oneself to recognize the breach sooner
in order to limit and contain the damage before it spreads to other parts
of your life.
Secondly, we will learn what one can do to make it harder for someone to steal your identity. Think of this step as protecting your identity or reputation before is is stolen. This second part, prevention, requires some behavior modification some real work by the individual.
Next, and for the few unfortunate souls among us who learn this third part of the subject in infinite detail - what do to when it happens to you. The goal here is to have a dress rehearsal, or check list made out in advance. So if and when disaster strikes there should be absolutely NO question in your mind about what needs to be done. This will require you to have collected all the important financial information in one place ahead of time and to have that information under lock and key.
Every good treatment of Identity Theft will include a list of resources you can read at your leisure. Most of this information is in the form of web sites, class handouts and government publications. Some of which you should read now, whether you do or do not continue your readings in Identity Theft - Prevention & Recovery.
For a copy of your free credit report go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com This central site allows you to request a free credit file, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each of these three companies offer 1 free credit report yearly. So, chose a different company every 4 months and monitor your credit report every 4 months.
There are two books on Identity Theft I recommend . The first is a mandatory
read for everyone. The second book is to be used if and when ID Theft
occurs in your life. The two books, are both written by Mari Frank, an
attorney who unfortunately became a victim of Identity Theft herself.
The first book, "Safeguard
Your Identity: Protect Yourself With A Personal Privacy Audit"
will teach you, in great detail, how to guard against all kinds of Identity
Learn from her experiences and have all the tools at your disposal to guard against Identity theft. More importantly, if it does happen to you, there is the second book "Victim to Victor" which will walk you through the process, step by step in clearing your good credit and undoing the damage.
Please visit the Identity Theft Prevention and Survival web site at www.identitytheft.org. The is Mari Franks website and where you can order her books. You also find information about Mari’s mediation and training at www.marifrank.com. And last but not least check out the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse website for more information than you could ever imagine.
It is prevention, detection and recovery that everyone needs to learn. Check with your local junior college for a class on Identity Theft.
Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America Over the past two years have seen in excess of 9 million victims a year The mean cost per victim is $500 71% of fraud happens within a week of stealing a victim’s personal data.
Stolen wallets and physical documents accounted for 43% of all identity theft While online methods accounted for only 11%. 38-48% discover someone has stolen their identity within three months, while 9-18% of victims don't learn that their identity has been stolen for four or more years
Businesses across the world lose $221 billion a year due to identity theft (Aberdeen Group). On average, victims lose between $851 and $1,378 out-of-pocket trying to resolve identity theft (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004). The mean cost per victim is $500 (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
47% of victims encounter problems qualifying for a new loan (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004). 70% of victims have difficulty removing negative information that resulted from identity theft from their credit reports (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004). Dollar amount lost per household averaged $1,620 (U.S. DOJ, 2005).
It can take up to 5,840 hours (the equivalent of working a full-time job for two years) to correct the damage from ID theft, depending on the severity of the case (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004). The average victim spends 330 hours repairing the damage (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004). It takes 26-32% of victims between 4 and 6 months to straighten out problems caused by identity theft; 11-23% of victims spend 7 months to a year resolving their cases (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004)
Stolen wallets and physical paperwork accounts for almost half (43%) of all identity theft (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009). * Online methods accounted for only 11% (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009). * More than 35 million data records were compromised in corporate and government data breaches in 2008 (ITRC).
Credit Card fraud (26%): Credit card fraud can occur when someone acquires your credit card number and uses it to make a purchase. Utilities fraud (18%): Utilities are opened using the name of a child or someone who does not live at the residence. Parents desperate for water, gas, and electricity will use their child’s clean credit report to be approved for utilities. Bank fraud (17%): There are many forms of bank fraud, including check theft, changing the amount on a check, and ATM pass code theft. Employment fraud (12%): Employment fraud occurs when someone without a valid Social Security number borrows someone else’s to obtain a job. Loan fraud (5%): Loan fraud occurs when someone applies for a loan in your name. This can occur even if the Social Security number does not match the name exactly. Government fraud (9%): This type of fraud includes tax, Social Security, and driver license fraud. Other (13%)
Much of the following information was taken from government publications
Recent headlines about data breaches and losses of personal information have prompted many companies to advertise products or services to help consumers prevent or minimize their risk of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, says before you pay for an identity theft prevention product or service, make sure you understand exactly what you're paying for. Many people find value and convenience in paying an outside party to help them exercise their rights and protect their information. At the same time, some rights and protections you have under federal or state laws can help you protect your identity and recover from identity theft at no cost.
Knowing and understanding your rights can help you determine whether - or which - commercial products or services may be appropriate for you. In this class we learn all about those rights.
Identity theft protection companies offer a range if products and services for sale. Some allow you to "lock," "flag," or "freeze" your credit reports. Often, the companies advertising these services simply are offering to place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your report. These services also may renew or update your alerts or freezes automatically, as long as you continue to pay. Under the law, initial fraud alerts and renewals are available for free if you have reason to believe you have been - or are about to be - a victim of identity theft. Some companies, including consumer reporting companies, offer subscriptions to credit monitoring services. These services track your credit report, and generally send you an email alert reflecting recent activity, such as an inquiry or new account. Typically, the more frequent or more detailed the report, the more expensive the service.
Some companies offer services to help you rebuild your identity in the event of identity theft. Typically, these services operate by obtaining a limited power of attorney from you, which enables the company to act on your behalf when dealing with consumer reporting companies, creditors, or other information sources. Many companies may offer additional services, including removing your name from mailing lists for prescreened offers of credit or insurance, representing your legal interests, "guaranteeing" . reimbursement in the event you experience a loss due to identity theft, or helping you track down whether your personal information has been exposed online.
Before you agree to pay for any of these services, read the fine print. You can get some of them yourself at no cost: for example, if you decide you don't want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you can opt out for five years or permanently by calling toll-free 1-888-5-0PTOUT (l-888-567-8688) or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com or www.donotcall.gov however using the website may cost you $5. In this course you will to do the above and much more yourself for free or very little cost!
A fraud alert is a signal placed on your credit profile or credit report notifying potential creditors that they must use "reasonable polices and procedures" to verify your identity before they issue new credit in your name. A fraud alert may stop someone from opening new credit in your name, however it may not prevent the misuse of your existing credit. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you are entitle to two kinds of fraud alerts: initial and extended.If: you are going to be employed away from your active duty station and you don’t expect to need new credit while you are away, consider placing an Active Duty Alert on your credit Report. It is effective for 1 year rather than 3 months as with the non-military public, unless you ask for it to be removed sooner
If you think you are about to become a victim of Identity Theft, because your purse or wallet was stolen or lost, place an initial fraud alert on your credit profile. The initial fraud alert is good for 90 days. Notify any one of the three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) and the BRA you contacted will contact the other 2.
Contact the Fraud Victim Departments as follows:
You can also request that only the last four digits of your social security number appear on you reports. At the time you file a fraud alert, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three CRAs. As time passes and you actually become a victim of Identity Theft, go ahead and request an "Extended" fraud alert.
Your will need to provide the CRAs with a copy of your local law enforcement Identity Theft" report. Also report this crime to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) @ (877) FTC-HELP or (877) 382-4357. The FTC maintains a nation wide database accessible by civil and law enforcement agencies through the country. The database is called the Consumer Sentinel Network
When you place an extended fraud alert on your file it is good for seven years, At this time you are entitled to two free credit reports from all three CRAs. Also, when you upgrade your initial fraud alert to an extended fraud alert, the CRAs automatically put you name on the Do Not Call List for prescreened offers of credit for 5 years.
A security freeze is good for 5 years and may or may not cost you anything. Here in California you have to pay $10 to each of the three credit reporting agencies and if you are married the cost is double that. Like a regular security freeze potential new creditors cannot see your credit report unless you unfreeze your report for them. If a potential credit cannot see your credit history, chances are they will not grant you any additional credit.
More about fraud alerts and security freezes later, for know that fraud alerts both initial (90 days) and extended (5 years) both can be placed on your credit profile over the telephone and the security freeze must be done in writing in chapter 6B
So you notice an error in your file and you write the consumer reporting agency. They have 30 days to investigate and must provide you with all pertinent information about the transaction. But what do you do if they refuse to correct the error. Well you have the right to ask that a “statement of the dispute” be included on your file and in future reports for all to see.
How long can a consumer reporting company report negative information? A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. There is no time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you've applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.
If I were to break into your house while you were away at work, and I stole something of value or I stoles alot of things of value from you, when you arrived home, you would be upset, but the event would be over. You would only need wait for your insurance company to replace your material goods. How do you stop someone from using your identity to your disavantage, when you don't know who there are, where they are or what they will do next. The answer is "You Don't" All we can hope do is make it harder for him or here to do it again in the future. Law enforcement catch and convict about 3% of all identity theft crimes.
Identity theft occurs when “someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crime.” The definition Fraud is as follows: “A knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment.” There are plenty of kinds of FRAUD: Bank Fraud, Criminal Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Mail Fraud, Tax Fraud, Real-estate Fraud, Credit Card Fraud, Welfare Fraud, Workers, Compensation Fraud and Medical Practice Fraud just to name a few.
Know the Federal Trade Commission is working with law enforcement agencies, businesses, consumer groups , and organizations across the country to help deter, detect and defend against identity theft. Identity theft is a serious crime. It will cost you time and money to recover from. By taking this course you will be informed and empowered to keep these costs to a minimum
Your Personal Identifiers include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:
368 .0 Persons Causing Pain, Suffering, or Injury to Elder or Dependent Adult; Theft, Embezzlement, Forgery or Fraud by Caretaker.
Generally speaking Penal Code 368.0 lays out the crimes & associated punishments for taking advantage of elders and dependent adults. In the past they have mentioned theft, forgery fraud, physical and emotional pain, etc. But, here in paragraphs d) and e), they specifically add identity theft to the list of crimes as defined in CA Penal Code 530.5 which is at the center of Identity Theft.
528.0 Every person who falsely personates another…
“Falsely personates another, and in such assumed character marries or pretends to marry, or to sustain the marriage” I guess you can’t pretend to be someone else and go off and get married or even try to act married.
529.0 Conspiracy Defined
There is that falsely personates another phrase again. Looks like you cannot post bail pretending to be someone else. You cannot acknowledge, publish or verify or approve of any written document nor have it notarized. You cannot pretend to be someone else for the purpose of obligating them to any debt, or penalty. Big fine here, $10,000 and / or prison time.
529 a Manufacture, Sale or Possession of False Birth Certificate or Baptismal Certificate
1 year in the county jail for falsifying / fabricating a Certificate of Birth (Birth Certificate) or a Certificate of Baptism. If you are found to be in possession of either of the above two mentioned documents belonging to someone else (excluding family members) coupled with the INTENT to represent yourself as someone else or conceal your own true identity (Only Batman is allowed to conceal his identity) you are breaking the law and could get up to a year in the county jail.
529.5 Manufacture, Sale or Possession of Document Purporting to be Government Issued Identification Card or Drivers License
If you make or sell any California Government issued Drivers License or Identification Card you can receive up to a year in the county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.529.7 Obtaining or Assisting in Obtaining Documents Issued by Department of Motor Vehicles for Persons Not Entitled to Documents
If your are caught doing the previous more than once (CA DL or ID card) the fine is upped to $5,000 along with our and/or a year in the county jail. And, if you are even found to be in possession of a fake CA issued DL or ID card and you know it was a fake you’re a breaking the law. Fine $1,000 to $2,500.
$1,000 fine and/or up to 1 year in jail for helping someone else obtain a California issued Drivers License, ID Card or Vehicle Registration Certificate. Pretending to be someone else in order to receive a delivery of money or property coupled with the INTENT to do so is also against the law as is it were larceny (Theft) Penal Code 484 Larceny
530.5 Unlawful Use of Personal Identifying Information
Anyone who obtains personal identifying information of another
and uses this information to obtain:
530.55 For purposes of this chapter, "person" means ...
Our new laws are NOT just limited to individual human beings but also include the following forms of ownership:
530.6 Victim of Suspected Identity Theft may Initiate Investigation and Petition Court for Determination of Factual Innocence.
Everyone has the right to file a report with their local law enforcement organization who shall take a report from the ID theft victim and give you, the victim, a copy of you report filed with them.
530.7 Department of Justice Data Base of Identity Theft Victims
If you accidentally get arrested, because someone else gave the local Sheriff your identification claiming to be you and he or she is arrested and prosecuted you have the right to ask the courts to look over the situation and any and all information you provide and you have the right to ask the court to so state that you were not involved in the crime in any way, shape or form and that they (being the court) will issue whatever certifying paper work deemed necessary to show your innocence in your future dealings.
The Department of Justice (State) shall keep a database,
of victims who suffer from ID, theft which will include your fingerprints.
Secondly, you are to have access to this database. Access in general to
this database will be limited to victims, criminal justice agencies and
any individuals or agencies authorized by you the victim. And finally
of Justice will maintain a Toll free number to the administrator of this
530.8 Person’s Right to Receive Information Relating to Application Made or Account Opened in Person’s Name by Unauthorized Person: Requirements for Information Request.
And finally if your impostor opens an account in your name, you or law enforcement may contact the organization that established the account and receive from them any all information provided by the impostor. They must act within 10 business day of your request. They must provide everything you ask for. This will help you to see how your impostor is actually operating, what information he or she has be using to your detriment. And the Attorney General, the district attorney, or the prosecuting city attorney will file a petition to compel them too if necessary.. [Top]
As I mentioned earlier, this course is modeled after Mari Franks Book, “Safeguard your Identity”, however she has written an EXCELLENT companion book “From Victim to Victor”. Use this second book should identity theft creep into your life. Her second book will provide you with a step by step instructions for clearing your good name,
Your new mental state of mind will require you to do some work in the immediate future and some other work later on. When I say later on, I mean for the rest of your life on planet earth you will need to practice good, safe, identity theft hygiene.
Bottom line, you have to act, to think, to expend energy - to engage your gray matter to get the results you need out of this class! You must put into practice what you learn from this course.
First your are going to practice a little extra vigilance for the rest of your life. This world, our world today, is not the one we were born into. We are going to lean to adapt to the one we live in now and this means developing better habits.
From now on, you will trust less and question more. Question the waiter or waitress who comes back with your American Express Card 25 minutes after you gave it to him. When you go on vacation you will NOT stop the mail at the U.S. Post Office nor will you STOP the newspapers. Instead you will have a trusted neighbor, pick up your mail and newspapers daily.
You will not use the ATM machine next time if you think the person behind you is standing to close or maybe even looking directly over your shoulder, even though you really need to use the ATM machine now! Rather you, will instead, come back later to use the ATM machine.
You will order a free credit report every 4 months and scrutinize it. By rotating which credit reporting agency you use every four months, you will be able to review your credit report three (3) times a year.
You will stop using your debit cards entirely and cut them up and close out that account number card. You will use, only credit cards from now on. When the person on the other end of the phone starts asking you about personal identifies, your radar should be up and running. Consider the context of the situation and think -"Is it reasonable that this person to be asking me this information now at this point in time knowing everything I know about this person and the purpose of their phone call.
You will not respond to phishing schemes coming through your e-mail and
you will learn to easily recognize them a such.
A good article on phishing, everyone should read, is in The Scientific American, December 2008, Page 104 - 110. "Can Phishing be Foiled?" By Lorrie Faith Cranor.
The Anti-Phishing Workgroup can be found a the following URL: http://APWG.org. Play the online game "Anti-Phishing Phil" to increase your ability to detect phishing emails. http://cups.cs.cmu.edu/antiphishing_phil After reading this section, hone your detection skills
Phishing is a form of online crime that lures people into giving up personal or corporate information.
It works because it exploits our human vulnerabilities.
Phishing scams are constructed by con artists to look like legitimate communications from well known, respected companies.
They work by asking their victims to take URGENT action to avoid a negative situation or stimulus, or to receive something or worth
Malware is the name given to this type of software. Software designed to retriever information the crooks are looking for.
In 2007, it is estimated that every month 55,000 attempts were successful. It is estimated that in the year 2008, around 3.6 million of us where snookered - leading to losses in excess of 3.2 billion dollars!
Computer security experts are leaning to develop email filters that recognize these phishing emails for what they are, which helps stamp them out, however the bad guys keep evolving with more sophisticated methods as well.
OK, so now we know what phishing is in general, we need to learn some NEW skills ourselves to detect them. These filters mentioned earlier are still pretty new.
Lucky for us, there are little clues to look for that will tip us off that these emails are bad news.
Look out for a new software program coming soon under the name "Wombat Security Technology/Technologies" This software will probably offer email filtering for our emails..
What is evolved in spotting a phishing email: here are 4 tips for catching these emails.
First off, the Logos and artwork they use is the real thing, lifted from the real companies website, so there is no help there in spotting a phishing email. The artwork will be the real thing.
Second, Look for
the urgent situation that the sky is falling, the message of impending
doom that beckons you to take immediate action. For instance:
Your account is about to be deactivated, or your users privilege's are in jeopardy or you could be facing additional unnecessary cost if you fail to act now! Or maybe it is a notification that your password has expired.
Third, Mouseover a blue hyperlink, "http://...."and compare to the value of the URL displayed. The blue hyperlinked words will not match the value you see when you roll the mouse over this web link. They may not match, which is a indication of a phony address.
Fourth, The email will offer you access to the legitimate email address/web address and then later on in the body of the email, where they prompt you to act and act now, they pull the old switch-aroo and offer a phony link.
Fifth, be suspicious
of URL,s that have any one of the following characteristics:
uses an "@"
use an "-"
uses an IP address
or a URL that uses more than five dots in its address
Finally, if the email looks fishy assume it is and delete it. Make the
company contact you by phone or U.S. mail if they legitimate
Most phishing scam projects have a relatively new domain name and automated filters can check for the age of the web site.
Lori Faith Cranor's research team learned that people can be trained to protect themselves from phishing scams. However ones skills must be constantly practiced, as the bad guys are constantly adapting and evolving.
Know that there is a international team out there working on ways to detect and nullify phishing.
There is a particular kind phishing called "Spear Phishing", where an employee receives an email, supposedly from their immediate supervisor or higher up in their management structure, (which instantly would let anyone's guard down), where perpetrators are asking for personal identifiers on a subordinate employee.
The overall goal here is to learn to recognize a Phishing e-mail before you take the requested action - thus fulfilling the bad guys request.
Web browser companies as you might expect, are already beginning to install Anti-Phishing filters.
For late breaking information go to and bookmark this working group fighting Phishing, http://apwg.org
BAD NEWS - The folks who brought you Phishing are now plying their trade via instant messaging, mobile phones, text messaging and on-line games
What does that me for us? Don't think Phishing is limited to your Internet email
In summary, the word about phishing is this. NEVER click on links asking for information found on your list of personal identifiers.
|The following 46 tips are from the Privacy Rights
1. Reduce the number of credit card you carry in your wallet. We recommend that you do not use debit cards because of the potential for losses to your checking account (see above). Instead, carry one or two credit cards and your ATM card in your wallet. Nonetheless, debit cards are popular. If you do use them, take advantage of online access to your bank account to monitor account activity frequently. Report evidence of fraud to your financial institution immediately.
2. When using your credit and debit cards at restaurants and stores, pay close attention to how the magnetic stripe information is swiped by the waiter or clerk. Dishonest employees have been known to use small handheld devices called skimmers to quickly swipe the card and then later download the account number data onto a personal computer. The thief uses the account data for Internet shopping and/or the creation of counterfeit cards.
3. Do not use debit cards when shopping online. Use a credit card because you are better protected in case of fraud. See our online shopping guide, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs23-shopping.htm.
4. Keep a list or photocopy of all your credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, and investments -- the account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers of the customer service and fraud departments -- in a secure place (not your wallet or purse) so you can quickly contact these companies in case your credit cards have been stolen or accounts are being used fraudulently.
5. Never give out your SSN, credit or debit card number or other personal information over the phone, by mail, or on the Internet unless you have a trusted business relationship with the company and you have initiated the call. Identity thieves have been known to call their victims with a fake story that goes something like this. "Today is your lucky day! You have been chosen by the Publishers Consolidated Sweepstakes to receive a free trip to the Bahamas. All we need is your Social Security number, credit card number and expiration date to verify you as the lucky winner."
6. Always take credit card receipts with you. Never toss them in a public trash container. When shopping, put receipts in your wallet rather than in the shopping bag.
7. Never permit your credit card number to be written onto your checks. It's a violation of California law (Civil Code sec. 1725) and laws in many other states, and puts you at risk for fraud.
8. Watch the mail when you expect a new or reissued credit card to arrive. Contact the issuer if the card does not arrive.
9. Order your credit report at least once a year. Federal law gives you the right to one free credit report each year from the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you are a victim of identity theft, your credit report will contain the telltale signs inquiries that were not generated by you, as well as credit accounts that you did not open. The earlier you detect fraud, the easier and quicker it will be to clean up your credit files and regain your financial health.
How to order your free annual credit report:
By telephone: (877) 322-8228
11. As of November 2007, individuals nationwide are able to "freeze" their credit reports with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By freezing your credit reports, you can prevent credit issuers from accessing your credit files except when you give permission. This effectively prevents thieves from opening up new credit card and loan accounts. In most states, security freezes are available at no charge to identity theft victims and for a relatively small fee for non-victims.
The California Office of Privacy Protection provides a guide on
security freezes for Californians www.privacy.ca.gov/sheets/cis10securityfreeze.pdf.
13. There are many identity theft insurance products available to consumers. We do not recommend them unless they are available as a free or low-cost rider on an existing insurance policy. For more information on such insurance products, visit www.iii.org/individuals/other/insurance/identitytheft (no endorsements implied).
Passwords and PINS:
14. When creating passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers), do not use the last four digits of your Social Security number, mother's mother's maiden name, your birth date, middle name, pet's name, consecutive numbers or anything else that could easily be discovered by thieves. It's It's best to create passwords that combine letters and numbers.
Here's a tip to create a password that is strong and easy to remember. Think of a favorite line of poetry, like "Mary had a little lamb." Use the first or last letters to create a password. Use numbers to make it stronger. For example, MHALL, or better yet MHA2L!. The longer the string, the harder it is to crack.
15. Ask your financial institutions to add extra security protection to your account. Most will allow you to use an additional code or password (a number or word) when accessing your account. Do not use your mother's maiden name, SSN, or date or birth, as these are easily obtained by identity thieves. If asked to create a reminder question, do not use one that is easily answered by others.
16. Memorize all your passwords. Don't record them on anything in your wallet.
17. Shield your hand when using a bank ATM machine or making long distance phone calls with your phone card. "Shoulder surfers" may be nearby with binoculars or video camera.
Social Security numbers:
18. Protect your Social Security number (SSN). Release it only when absolutely necessary (like tax forms, employment records, most banking, stock and property transactions). The SSN is the key to your credit and banking accounts and is the prime target of criminals. If a business requests your SSN, ask if it has an alternative number that can be used instead. Speak to a manager or supervisor if your request is not honored. Ask to see the company's written policy on SSNs. If necessary, take your business elsewhere. If the SSN is requested by a government agency, look for the Privacy Act notice. This will tell you if your SSN is required, what will be done with it, and what happens if you refuse to provide it. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.
If possible, do not provide the SSN on job applications.
Offer to provide it when you are interviewed or when a background
check is conducted. (Read PRC Fact Sheet 10 on SSNs, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs10-ssn.htm
and Fact Sheet 25 on online job seeking tips, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs25-JobSeekerPriv.htm.)
20. Do not say your SSN out loud when you are in a public place. And do not let merchants, health care providers, or others say your SSN out loud. Whisper or write it down on a piece of paper instead. Be sure to retrieve and shred that paper.
21. Examine your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement each year to check for fraud. The Social Security Administration mails it to adult-age SSN holders about three months before the birthday. The SSA web site has additional information, www.ssa.gov/mystatement. Reach them by phone at (800) 772-1213.
22. Do not carry your SSN card in your wallet except for situations when it is required, the first day on the job, for example. If possible, do not carry wallet cards that display the SSN, such as insurance cards, except when needed to receive health care services. A California law places restrictions on the display and transmission of SSNs by companies. It is being phased in through 2005. For more information, read the California Office of Privacy Protection guide on SSN "recommended practices," at www.oispp.ca.gov/consumer_privacy/pdf/ssnrecommendations.pdf.
If you feel you must carry your health insurance or Medicare card with you at all times, try this. Photocopy the card and cut it down to wallet size. Then remove or cut out the last four digits of the SSN. Carry that with you rather than the actual card. But be sure to carry your original Medicare card with you the first time you visit your health care provider. They are likely to want to make a photocopy of it for their files.
23. It is a violation of federal law for state motor vehicles departments to use the Social Security number as the drivers license (DL) number. (Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, implemented December 17, 2005) If you are carrying an older drivers license containing your SSN that is not yet ready for renewal, contact the motor vehicles agency in your state and request to have your DL replaced before the actual renewal date. This way, you are not carrying a document in your wallet that contains your SSN.
Internet and computer safeguards:
24. Install a firewall on your home computer to prevent hackers from obtaining personal identifying and financial data from your hard drive. This is especially important if you connect to the Internet by DSL or cable modem.
25. Install and update virus protection software to prevent a worm or virus from causing your computer to send out files or other stored information.
26. Password-protect files that contain sensitive personal data, such as financial account information. Create passwords that combine 6-8 numbers and letters, upper and lower case. In addition, encrypt sensitive files.
27. When shopping online, do business with companies that provide transaction security protection, and that have strong privacy and security policies. For more online shopping tips, read PRC Fact Sheet 23, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs23-shopping.htm. "https"
28. Before disposing of your computer, remove data by using a strong "wipe" utility program. Do not rely on the "delete" function to remove files containing sensitive information.
29. Never respond to "phishing" email messages. These appear to be from your bank, eBay, or PayPal. They instruct you to visit their web site, which looks just like the real thing. There, you are told to confirm your account information, provide your SSN, date of birth and other personal information. Legitimate financial companies never email their customers with such requests. These messages are the work of fraudsters attempting to obtain personal information in order to commit identity theft. Visit www.antiphishing.org.
30. Be aware that file-sharing and file-swapping programs expose your computer to illegitimate access by hackers and fraudsters. If you use such programs, make sure you comply with the law and know what you are doing. Install and update strong firewall and virus protection.
Many file-sharing programs are downloaded by youngsters without the knowledge of their parents. There are software programs available that identify file sharing software and locate shared files on home computers. For more information on safe surfing for families, visit www.getnetwise.org.
Reducing access to your personal data:
33. To reduce the amount of personal information that is "out there," take these steps:
Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit
reporting bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Call
888-5OPTOUT or go online to www.optoutprescreen.com. This will limit
the number of pre-approved offers of credit that you receive. These,
when tossed into the garbage, are a potential target of identity
thieves who use them to order credit cards in your name. (See PRC
Fact Sheet 6 for more information, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs6-crdt.htm.)
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call
Registry. Your name is added to name deletion lists used by nationwide
marketers. You may also need to register for your state's "do
not call" list, if it has one
Or opt-out online: https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/regist.action
A credit card is required for verification only. There is no fee
for opting out online.
34. Install a locked mailbox at your residence to deter mail theft. Or use a post office box or a commercial mailbox service. When you are away from home for an extended time, have your mail held at the Post Office, or ask a trusted neighbor to pick it up.
35. When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank. Don't have them mailed to your home. If you have a post office box, use that address on your checks rather than your home address so thieves will not know where you live.
36. When you pay bills, do not leave the envelopes containing your checks at your mailbox for the postal carrier to pick up, or in open boxes at the receptionist's desk in your workplace. If stolen, your checks can be altered and then cashed by the impostor. It is best to mail bills and other sensitive items at the drop boxes inside the post office rather than neighborhood drop boxes. If you use a neighborhood drop box, always deposit the mail before the last pickup of the day.
Responsible information handling:
37. Each month, carefully review your credit card, bank and phone statements, including cellular phone bills, for unauthorized use. (For more information on cell phone fraud, see PRC Fact Sheet 2
38. Convert as much bill-paying as you can to automatic deductions from your checking account and/or credit account Consider using the Internet for banking and paying bills. With fewer account statements and bills mailed to your home, you will reduce the risk of mail theft and identity theft.
39. Do not toss pre-approved credit offers in your trash or recycling bin without first tearing them into very small pieces or shredding them with a crosscut shredder. They can be used by "dumpster divers" to order credit cards in your name and mail them to their address. Do the same with other sensitive information like credit card receipts, phone bills, bank account statements, investment account reports, and so on. Home shredders can be purchased in many office supply stores. We recommend crosscut shredders.
40. Use a gel pen for writing checks. Experts say that gel ink contains tiny particles of color that are trapped in the paper, making check washing more difficult .
41. Demand that financial institutions adequately safeguard your data. Password protect your accounts. Discourage your bank from using the last four digits of the SSN as the PIN number they assign to customers. If you have been given the last four SSN digits as a default PIN, change it to something else.
Insist they destroy paper and magnetic records before discarding them. By not adopting responsible information-handling practices, they put their customers at risk for fraud.
42. When you fill out loan or credit applications, find out how the company disposes of them. If you are not convinced that they store them in locked files and/or shred them, take your business elsewhere. Some auto dealerships, department stores, car rental agencies, and video stores have been known to be careless with customer applications.
When you pay by credit card, ask the business how it stores and disposes of the forms. Avoid paying by credit card if you think the business is not careful. When paying with credit cards on the Internet, be sure the company uses secure transmission and storage methods. See PRC Fact Sheet 23 on safe online shopping tips
43. Store canceled checks in a safe place. In the wrong hands, they could reveal a lot of information about you, including the account number, your phone number and driver's license number. If you rent a storage locker, take extra precautions when storing canceled checks, tax return information, and other sensitive financial information. Storage lockers are popular targets for robbers.
44. Store personal information securely in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or have service work done in your home. Use a locking file cabinet or safe.
45. Any entity that handles personal information should train all its employees, from top to bottom, on responsible information-handling practices. Persuade the companies, government agencies, and nonprofit agencies with which you are associated to adopt privacy policies and conduct privacy training. (Read Fact Sheet 12 on responsible information-handling, and our workplace identity theft prevention tips, )
46. Remember, if you are a victim of identity theft, or if your wallet or SSN has been lost or stolen, read our Fact Sheet 17a, "Identity Theft: What to Do if It Happens to You," on our website at . If your wallet or your Social Security number has been lost or stolen, place fraud alerts on your three credit reports right away. Instructions are provided in step one of Fact Sheet 17a.
Your credit file is a snap shot in history that includes historical information regarding your ability to make timely, regular payments on your installment debts, credit balances, mortgage, care loan, utilities, department store cards etc.
The FICO® Score isderived from the application of a credit
scoring model created by the Fair, Isaac Company to a consumer's credit
file held by a credit reporting company. FICO® scores range from the
300s to the 900s, but almost all consumers have a score between 500 and
Go to the Annual Credit Report website at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp Order a free credit report every 4 months. Use a different credit agency every 4 months – hence 3/yr. For instance use Experian In January, Trans Union in May and Equifax in September. Then start all over again next January with Experian ! Pay special attention to the literature that comes with your Equifax credit report. Theirs are a little squirrely to understand. One can also order a credit report by calling the web site's telephone number: 877 322-8228 or by mailing in the completed Annual Credit Report Request Form to:
Annual Credit Report Request
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
WARNING: The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The three companies have set up one central website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free credit reports. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that, if you want to order your free annual credit report online, there is only one authorized website: www.annualcreditreport.com.
Here you'll find identifying information like your:
* current address
* social security number
* date of birth
* spouse's name (if applicable)
This is the meat of the report. It contains a list of your open and paid credit accounts and indicates any late payments reported by your creditors. Although it may seem a little tedious, it's essential that you read through this section very thoroughly. If you find any information that is incorrect or accounts that don't belong to you, you will want to submit a dispute letter to the credit-reporting agency.
The basic format for the credit history section (see sample) is as follows:
Company Name - identifies the company that is reporting the information.
Account Number - lists your account number with the company.
- Indicates who is responsible for the account and the type of participation
you have with the account. Abbreviations may vary depending on the reporting
agency - here are some of the most common:
I - Individual
U - Undesignated
J - Joint
A - Authorized User
M - Maker
T - Terminated
C - Co-maker/Co-signer
S - Shared
Date Opened - This is the month and year you opened the account with the credit grantor.
Months Reviewed - Lists the number of months the account history has been reported.
Last Activity - Indicates the date of the last activity on the account. This may be the date of your last payment or last charge.
High Credit - Represents the highest amount charged or the credit limit. If the account is an installment loan, the original loan amount will be listed.
Terms - For installment loans, the number of installments may be listed or the amount of the monthly payments. For revolving accounts, this column is often left blank.
Balance - Indicates the amount owed on the account at the time it was reported.
Past Due - This column lists any amount past due at the time the information was reported.
Status - A combination of letters and numbers are used to indicate the type of account and the timeliness of payments.
O - Open
R - Revolving
I - Installment
Abbreviations for timeliness of payment varies among agencies. Numbers are used to represent how current you are in your payments. Current or paid as agreed is usually represented by 0 or 1. Larger numbers (up to 9) indicate that an account is past due - so the lower the number the better.
Date reported - Indicates the last time information on this account was updated by your creditor.
If you've had any accounts referred to collection agencies in the last seven years, this is where they will be reported. The name of the collection agency will be listed along with the amount you owe and, in some cases, their contact information. If a collection is listed on your report that doesn't look familiar to you, contact the credit bureau and submit a dispute letter.
For your own piece of mind, you may also want to contact the collection agency to determine the nature of the account. Here's why.
You may find out that the collection account is not yours. Perhaps it belongs to someone whose name or social security number is very similar to yours. If this is the case, ask the collection agency to acknowledge this fact in writing. They should send a copy of the letter to you AND the credit reporting agency so that the mistaken information can be cleared from your report.You may find out that the collection account is yours. If so, it is in your best interest to determine the accuracy of the amount of the collection account and make arrangements to satisfy your obligation as quickly as possible. Once the collection account has been paid, you should request a letter from the collection agency to this effect. Again, make sure the credit reporting agency gets a copy of the letter so that they can list the account as paid.
This section may also be referred to as Public Records. Here you'll find a listing of public record items (obtained from local, state and federal courts) that reflect your history of meeting financial obligations. These include:
- Tax liens
- Collection accounts
- Overdue child support (in some states)
This section consists primarily of former addresses and past employers
as reported by your creditors.
Contains a list of the businesses that have received your credit report
in the last 24 months. If you find the names of businesses that sound
unfamiliar, you should find out who they are and why they're looking at
your credit! The credit-reporting agency may be able to help you with
contact information. Remember, only companies that have received
your written authorization should be able to check your credit history.
The amount of time information is retained or the length of time that information remains in your file varies.
Credit and collection
accounts will be reported for 7 years from the date of the last activity
with the original creditor.
If you've filed a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy, this information will be reported for 10 years from the date filed.
All other courthouse records will be reported for 7 years from date filed. [Top]
After you have reviewed your credit report you should spend an equal
amount of time reviewing reports from another related industry. National
Specialty Consumer Reporting Firms collect non-financial
information that if wrong could create almost as many problems as an error
in your credit profile.
Experts suggest that everyone place a security freeze on their credit history. So how do we Freeze our credit history? Take the letters found on your CD-ROM, under the security freeze folder and fill them out on your computer and mail them to the credit bureaus along with a check for $10 per letter.. The letter looks something like this:
Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
I would like to place a security freeze on my credit file.
My full name is:
My current home address is:
My former home address is:
My Social Security number is:
My date of birth is:
As a proof of residence, I have enclosed a copy of my ____________ utility bill from _________ (Date on Bill)
I will pay the fee of $10 for placing the freeze by check number __________.
Sign Here ____________________
Your Home Phone
Your Work Phone
=========================== End of Letter ================================
|The Security Freeze Letters in MS Word 1997-2003||Security Freeze Instructions On-Line at Equifax|
|The Security Freeze Letters in MS Word 2007||Security Freeze Instructions On-Line at TransUnion|
|Security Freeze Instructions On-Line at Experian|
The above letters are simply a fill in the blanks letter
prepared in advance. Why bother to freeze your credit history ? To restrict
companies from granting your look-a-like (impostor) new or extended
credit…as in letting them buy some big ticket item with your good credit
and sticking you with the bill.
How does a Security freeze work? With a security freeze we setup a situation where they (the credit grantors) needs a user I.D. and or PIN number provided by you and only you to bring up your credit history file on their little computer. And without seeing your credit history they are very, very reluctant to grant/extend credit for new big ticket purchases to you or your impostor, particularly in today's tight credit markets.
Does my spouse have to send the same letter to all three credit reporting agencies in order to have their file frozen too? YES. Remember, 2 people, 3 credit bureaus = 6 letters. If your single, it’s 3 separate letters at $10 per letter and if you have a significant other, its 6 letters, two per each credit bureau. And if you manage to loose the CD-ROM, just cut n-paste the above sample letter. Remember your Look-A-Like will not have this secret Pin! So he or she will not be opening or extending credit in your name.
If you have already become a victim of identity theft, here in California, you are entitled to a FREE security freeze from the Big 3 credit bureaus. If they balk, refer them To “The California Civil Code SS 1785.11.2 to 1785.11.6." They may want to see a copy of your "police report", which in our case with be a Los Angeles County Sheriff's / Kern County Sheriff's report.(LASD).
Each credit bureau has a different method for allowing you to by-pass your security freeze. When you receive your correspondence from the credit bureaus, each letter will be slightly different than the other two – hence they will explain slightly different procedures for unlocking your credit history file for someone to see. Remember I said a security freeze means your credit file cannot be seen by potential creditor(s) well that is almost true.
The credit history industry left a few holes in the Fair Credit Reporting Act legislation big enough to drive their trucks through. They can still see records to mail out new offers of credit to your home, providing you do not opt out of their marketing plans. Credit bureaus must place the freeze no later than 5 days business days after receiving your request. They have 3 business days in which to lift a security freeze at your request. However, do not expect to receive any correspondence for about 4 to 6 weeks.
While your security freeze is in effect, new creditors can not see you credit score - which also means no new credit for you! unless you can furnish the mechant the password and or PIN number.
Do not ever use your mother-in-law’s maiden for an easy
to remember password - NEVER!
The Identity Theft Resource Center
The ITRC is located in San Diego, CA
Identity Theft Resource Center
PO Box 26833
San Diego CA 92196
Phone: (858) 693-7935
Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm Pacific Time
For a listing of form letters maintaiined by the above website, visit
Catalogue Page for up to date forms. Once there, you will see
a link at the very bottom of the page for the following form letters available
for you to use.
|LF1 00 1 Initial Victim of Identity Theft Statement
and Fraudulent Account Information Request to Credit Issuers or Merchants
LF 100 - 2 Confirmation of Conversation - Letter of Clearance
LF 100-3 To Credit Issuers: Requesting a Fraudulent Inquiry to be Removed
LF 115-1 A Letter from the Victim to the Credit Issuer when the imposter will not cooperate
LF 115-2 Imposter Accepting Responsibility for Accounts or Charges
LF 115-3 When Both Parties Reach an Agreement to Resolve the Case
LF 116 Claim of Fraudulent Account - To a Collection Agency and/or Merchant
LF 117-1 Request a Credit Report for the Deceased
LF 117-2 Identity Theft and the Deceased
LF 120 Requesting a Child's Credit Report
LF 124A Request a Credit Freeze
LF 124B Request a 7 Year Fraud Alert
LF 124C Request a 90 Day Fraud Alert
LF 124D Request the Removal of a Fraudulent Inquiry
LF 126 Initial Victim of Identity Theft Statement and Fraudulent Account Information Request for Checking Account Fraud
LF 130A Request to Receive and Correct Medical Records
WWW.IDENTITYTHEFT.ORG Mari Frank's Web Site
WWW.PRIVACY.CA.GOV The State of California's Office of Privacy Protection
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains OnGuardOnline.gov with significant
contributions from partners on this page.
ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ Federal Trade Commission's Microsite on Identity Theft
http://dca.lacounty.gov/ The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer credit reporting agencies:
California is the first state to have an agency dedicated to promoting and protecting the privacy rights of consumers. Now located in the California Office of Information Security and Privacy Protection, the Office of Privacy Protection was created by legislation in 2000 and opened in 2001. Its mission is to identify consumer problems in the privacy area and encourage the development of fair information practices
This California State Government Office of Privacy web site also has consumer information sheets on:
Here are Fact Sheets & Other Publications- Federal Government: PDF format on this CD-ROM
Check Fraud: A Guide to Avoiding Losses
U, S. Trustee (UST) - www.usdoj.gov/ust
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - www.sec.gov
U.S, Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) -postalinspectors.uspis.gov/
Federal Communications Commission www.fcc.gov
Federal Communications Commission - Email your questions to: email@example.com
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - www.treas.gov/irs/ci
National Fraud Information Center - www.fraud.org
The Office Privacy Protection www.privacy.ca.gov
Follow this link for a listing of Publications available from
The Identity Theft Resource Center
There are three different organizations you will want to contact to get on their Do No Call list. The three organizations are the National Credit Reporting Agencies, The Federal government's Do Not Call website and the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service
First, the National Credit
Reporting Agencies (CRAs) are required by law to provide a
toll-free numbers that you can call to request your name not be sold for
purpose of credit solicitation –(pre-approved lines of credit) . 888
5OPOUT Or (888) 567-8688.
Secondly The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at this Website. You can register your home or mobile phone for free.Your registration will not expire. Telephone numbers placed on the National Do Not Call Registry will remain on it permanently due to the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February 2008. Go to ww.donotcall.gov, this in the National Do Not Call Website
The Do-Not-Call registry does not prevent all unwanted calls. It does
not cover the following:
* calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship
* calls for which you have given prior written permission
* calls which are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertisements
* calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations
The National Do-Not-Call list protects home voice or personal wireless phone numbers only. While you may be able to register a business number, your registration will not make telephone solicitations to that number unlawful. Similarly, registering either a home or business fax number will not make sending a fax advertisement to that number unlawful, but the FCC has separate rules that prohibit unsolicited fax advertisements under most circumstance
And thirdly, stop the selling of your information, (your personal
identifiers) to junk mail brokerages.The Direct
Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service lets
you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national
companies for five years. When you register with this service (for a $1
fee), your name will be put on a “delete” file and made available to direct-mail
marketers. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations
that do not use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA’s
Mail Preference Service, go to www.dmachoice.org.
or call them at:212.768.7277 or write them at the address listed below:
Direct Marketing Association,
Mail Preference Service,
P.O. Box 643,
Carmel, NY 10512
Note: since the federal government began maintaining a National Do Not Call list, some states have discontinued their list.
If you do not want county assessor selling your property information
along with other personal information, email or call these two organizations:
(877) 774-2094 for Acxion
(877) 970-9171 this is the opt out number for a company called Datquick
Strengthen your computers log-in security, use a password with both letters and numbers
Your passwords are the keys to unlock the door to your identity, guard them!
Dont give your password to anyone, not even your dog!
Tell your Internet service provider that your personal data is not for sale.!
Dont register when visiting web sites on the Internet, unless you are certain its not a hoax site.Dont display your personal or family information on the Internet (this means web pages) - EVER
Remind your children, to never put personal information about themselves
or of their family on the Internet.
Set limits for your childrens usage of the internet. You are the parent here!www.safekids.com
Be cautious with peer-to-peer file sharing (p-2-pe., sharing music files,
1) Do not set it up or allow it on your computer - EVER
Dont trust love interests you meet online, unless You are looking for trouble. Why? People on the web can pass themselves off as just about anyone and you have no way of knowing if they are who they say they are
Remain anonymous and use a nickname for your screen name.
Opt out of lookup companies like www.lexis-nexis.com
Make sure you are on the web site of the company that you really think youre doing business with.If the URL in the address section of that web page doesnt exactly match the site you think it is, go on the front page of the actual site (i.e. ebay.com, PayPal.com, ..Best Buy.com, AOL.com)
If you must buy, use your credit card to order, its safer than
sending a check or cash.
When you use a credit card, if you havent received the product by the time your credit card statement arrives, you can let the credit card company know that you have not received the product, and you can dispute the charge until the merchandise arrives or put the payment in suspension pending an investigation
Consider using a one-time credit card for shopping online and or consider
using one-time use credit cards on the internet.
Junk e-mail.: Microsoft, Outlook, Eudora for the PC, Entourage for Macintosh, AOL, and Hotmail all have junk mail filters - Learn to use them.
Protect yourself when you are always on the Internet, with
connections like DSL and cable networks by using your firewall products
and virus checking software. Make sure you use a router and firewall protection
While in public places and online look over your shoulder occasionally.
Install a good, reliable firewall, I recommend Peter Norton's / Symantec www.symantec.com.
Install, use, and continually update anti-virus software. Virus software that is out of date in just that -out of date and useless.
Dont just give your computer away when you purchase a new one. Erase the hard driveswith the appraise wipe disk product.
Go to http://www.whitecanyon.com/wipedrive-erase-hard-drive.php?source=google+wipe&gclid=COStqv2Jw5cCFQkiagodIwhyRw oruse hard drive eraser software from: www.east-tec.com before giving away your computer.
Secure your laptop while traveling on airplanes and maintain a visual line of sight on it where and when possible
If your laptop is stolen on your trip, you may be able to get another
computer at your destination and download your important files
at least youll have all your data on a CD instead of the laptop's
Did you know your can trace a stolen laptops location?
Tracing programs include zTrace (www.ztrace.com), and Computrace Plus ..(www.computrace.com).
When traveling, make sure that you place your other bags on first,
so that youll have time to get through the screening before someone
steals your laptop.
Encrypt your confidential data before you leave on a trip.
Programs such as Pretty Good Privacy (www.pgp.com) make the job easy, and if you have Windows XP, you already have the tools needed.
Back up your data before you leave for you trip.Make a CD or 2 to leave locked up at home.
Dont store financial or sensitive information on your laptop. Keep it on a separate CD.
Look around to see whos watching you when you go online at work or at a friends house or at Starbucks. People around you can watch what youre doing. Never let anyone see you input a password on your computer. Use your hand to shield the keyboard so no one can see the letters that youre inputting.
Never use a public computer, such as an Internet café, a library, or airport computer to access your sensitive financial information. Just don't do it.
Fraudsters love to access these public computers. They download key logging software or attach key logging hardware that records every key typed in and every web site accessed. You have no idea that your keystrokes are captured. When the fraudster returns (after you’re gone), he accesses the hidden key log and has all the information you had input. If you typed in passwords and confidential information, he can steal your identity and transfer money out of your accounts!
Use a reliable pay service such as PayPal.com
Complain at the FBIs web site for fraud.
Its pretty easy these days to be defrauded, so if you become a victim, make a complaint at the FBI web site at www.IFCCFBI.gov along with your report to your local law enforcement. If it is Identity Theft you will want to report it to the FTC as well, they maintain a national databases accessible to law enforcement and civilian agencies.
If you download any file that you dont recognize, for heaven sakes do not open it.
Download all patches for your programs.
Get on an e-mail notification service (like Microsoft) so that you know to download all new patches in Windows and other programs you use.
Delete cookies or use anti-cookie software. Cookies can often capture you user ID and password.
Protect yourself from spyware. Use Peter Norton's Symantec Anti Virus and firewall products. www.symantec.com
In fact, both good and bad guys collect data about us when were online.
To rid your PC of spyware and popup adware, download free software called Spybot. You can get this at www.download.com at no cost. There is also Spy Cop (www.spycop.com), which will alert you if youre being watched or if key-logging programs are on your computer.
Rid yourself of pop-ups or adware by going to this site and install their
popup blocker. www.ada-ware.com
Also check with your ISP for a popup blocker.
If your e-mail is used for you business, of course youre going to want to put your contact information so people can do business with you. But you should not be putting your home address, home phone number, personal (private email) and other personal data in a signature file or on a non-business related web page.
I repeat, Dont put your personal e-mail address on your web site.
Dont get hooked by a phishing expedition.
In April 2004, a survey conducted by the Gartner technology research firm estimated that 52 million American adults had received phishing emails within the past year. Of those surveyed who received such emails, 3 percent, (representing about 1.8 million individuals), said they disclosed personal or financial information. That is a pretty good return on investment. A good direct mail campaign yields only a 4% response. Never answer any emails that asks either directly, indirectly, or through a web site for any of your personal identifying information.
Make a copy of the questionable web sites URL and forward it to the legitimate business and ask if the request is legitimate.
Dont be gullible.Be cautious of scam letters. If it sounds to good to be true, then it is!
To find out about more of these financial scams, go to the United States Secret Service web site at www.secretservice.gov. If you receive any of these letters, forward them on to the Secret Service, the FBI, or the Federal Trade Commission, but do not ever reply to the sender. Forward this and other types of spam to Spam@uce.gov.
Think of your private email address as having public access. Dont put confidential or controversial information in your emails.Be cautious when participating in instant messaging.
Take extra precautions to hide on the Internet. How? Use the products found at www.annonymiser.com. Anonymous surfing enables anonymous web browsing which hides your IP address so online snoops are unable to track the sites you visit and build profiles on your internet activities.
Consider using a temporary e-mail address at Hotmail, Yahoo, or Google, then after while if youre not comfortable or you feel that youre being harassed, or your identity is in danger, you can close that account and get a new one.Visit an internet safety organization such as Cyber Angels (www.cyberangels.org) or the Federal Trade Commission (www.FTC.gov), for additional precautions.
Anonymous Internet connections are available for a price You may wish to use Anonymiser software. Go to www.annonymiser.com.
Order your credit reports at least twice a year and shoot for 3 times per year.
Don't forget to shred your computer generated, paper personal and confidential information before discarding it.
Be leery of anyone you have met exclusively on the web or Internet. Why. Because they may not be who the say they are and you have limited abilities to verify this information. I could throw up a web site and pretend to be just anyone and how would you know to contrary?
The goal here is to safekeep your identity outside of your home.
Remember, a little paranoia with regard to protecting your identity is NOT a bad idea.
Defend yourself when traveling!
HOW: Never leave your purse, wallet, or identification in your car even if its locked. Keep it with you (on your body or in your purse/fanny pack.
HOW: Its better to use travelers checks or credit cards when traveling, rather than using your checks. Think of all that information on one of your personal checks, so leave that check book and unnecessary credit cards at home.In any country, use you ATM card only for taking out cash when traveling. Make sure that you dont use an ATM debit card that has a Visa/MasterCard logo on it, because if thats stolen, it can be used to take the money directly out of your account. Remember, you are no longer going to use debit cards.
If you travel for business, make sure that the personal and private information on your laptop is password protected and contained in encrypted files. Or better yet, let's not put that data on your laptops harddrive to begin with.It’s best to utilize the hotel safe while you’re out of the room or take the highly sensitive documents with you. (meaning a CD-ROM) . Just don not leave them on a laptop you leave in your room for a bite to eat. Someone can be in and out within minutes downloading files or sending them over the internet using FTP. The same method you use to transfer HTML files to and from your website.
Dont stop delivery of your newspaper either. Have your trusted neighbor pick it up daily.
Obviously, you dont want to have a pile of papers thrown on your doorstep. However, police tell us that insiders working for newspapers will let the bad guys know when youve gone on vacation.
Guard your information (Personal Identifiers) in public places as if it were cold hard cash, because for someone else they can translate that information into cash
If at all possible, protect your privacy and identity when dealing with professionals.
First buy Mari Frank's other book
if you have been the victim of Identity Theft. It will provide
you with a step by step process for recovering your good name and credit
while erasing the damage done to your credit history. Remember, a credit
report is just a snapshot of your history - your ability to use credit
and pay it back in a timely manner as well as utility bills and other
installment debt. Think of this second book as a "Lawyer in a Box"
where you have access to $10,000 plus worth of an attorney's time for
PORPOISE PRESS, INC. (800) 725-0807 or Visit www.identitytheft.org
PORPOISE PRESS, INC. (800) 725-0807 or Visit www.identitytheft.org
And Secondly, call all three Credit Bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit reports. The first credit agency to receive your call will notify the other two credit agencies, but do you want to rely on them
Equifax: 800 685-1111, www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta,
GA 30374-0241 - Call them first
Experian: 888 397-3742, www.experian.com; P.O. Box 532, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion:310 973-0161,www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Thirdly, Close out all your credit accounts involved and have new credit cards issued with new account numbers. Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. Its important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so that you can document what the company received and when. And needless to say, keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.
It is import to note that Mari Frank leaves no stone unturned. She will organize you, prioritize your work, she will have you mailing the right letter at the right time to the right people. She effectively holds your hand through this entire ordeal, from beginning to end. Because everyone's personal situation of identity theft will be different, the application of Mari Frank's second book will be a little different for each and everyone of you.
And finally, call your Local Law Enforcement and tell them you need to file an Identity Theft Report. If the ID Theft took place in another state then contact that State's Attorney General's Office. I would also Google the geographic area in which you believe the theft took place and contact the region's local law enforcement.
And let's not forget to visit the FTC
at or call them at 877 438-4338 or by mail at:
Identity Theft Clearing House
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580)
The Federal Trade Commission maintains a national database accessible
to law enforcement and civilian agencies.
If your social security number has been compromised, you will want to report your situation to the the Social Security Administration, and , If your impostor got arrested and or convicted of a crime, you will want to notify the California State Department of Justice to register in their ID Theft database . Contact them if your name has some how become "mistakenly associated with the record of a criminal" activity.
After you have contacted the Credit Reporting Agencies, ordered a copy of your credit history, called your local law enforcement, and maybe the FTC you also might want to do the following depending on your specific situation:
* Contact all creditors, by phone and in writing, where fraudulent use
* Check with your bank in the event your checks are stolen, also ask them about fraudulent accounts- accounts that you yourself did not open.
* Notify your utilities companies especially if any new accounts open or have been opened in your name.
* If your driver's license or ID is stolen contact DMV.
* After trying to resolve the problem and if you do not have established credit, call the social security administration to inquire about getting a new SSN issued (restrictions apply). A new SSN does not ensure a new credit record and the absence of credit can make it hard to have credit so review what is best for your situation.
* If you suspect your mail has been stolen, call the post office and inquire if a change of address was filed.
* Back everything up in writing.
* Make sure all stolen credit cards and checks are canceled.
* Call your other credit issuers and have your accounts password protected.
As you should know by now, to place a Fraud Alert on your credit history, you need to pick up the telephone and call one of the three CRA's found here . These are the telephone numbers for the Fraud Victims department at each of the CRA's. Remember, you only need to contact one of them, as the CRA will automatically contact the other two for you.
There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, and an extended alert. An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if youve been taken in by a phishing scam on the internet
When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, youre entitled to one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if youve actually been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting agency with an identity theft report" from you local law enforcement agency.
When you place an extended alert on your credit report, youre entitled to two free credit reports within 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. You may have to remind them of their obligations. In addition, the consumer reporting agencies will remove your name from marketing lists for prescreened offers of credit for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before the 5 years expires. These offers would be unsolicited offers of credit you receive in the mail.To place either of these alerts on your credit report, you will be required to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your SSN, name, address and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting agency. To remove the fraud alert, you will need a copy of an identity theft report and proof of your identity.
Your initial or first fraud alert is good for only (3) three months, remember an extended alert is good for seven (7) years. An extended alert stays on your credit report for (7) seven years.
When a business sees the alert on your credit report, they must take reasonable efforts to verify your identity before issuing you credit or at least they are supposed too. A file with a fraud alert on it should be a big red flag to the big three credit reporting agencies. As a part of this verification process, the business may try to contact you directly. This may cause some delays if youre trying to obtain credit. To compensate for possible delays, you may wish to include a cell phone number, where you can be reached easily, in your alert. Remember to keep all contact information in your alert current and up-to-date.
When you open new accounts, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mothers maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or on faudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute those transactions. For charges and debits on existing accounts, ask the representative to send you the companys fraud dispute forms. If the company doesnt have special forms, use the sample letter (see hand out) to dispute the fraudulent charges or debits. In either case, write to the company at the address given for billing inquiries, NOT the address for sending your payments.
For new unauthorized accounts, ask if the company accepts the ID Theft Affidavit. The ID Theft Affidavit can be found in Mari Franks books. If the do not accept this form, ask the representative to send you the company’s fraud dispute forms. Once you have resolved your identity theft dispute with the company, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed accounts and has discharged the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best proof if errors relating to this account reappear on your credit report or you are contacted again about the fraudulent debt.
So while you are waiting for your book to arrive you can review the websites listed in this course & read the handouts and government publications for the first time. Mari Franks From Victim to Victor, is a comprehensive , step by step guide to ending the nightmare of identity theft. By following Mari Franks detailed instructions you will reverse all the damage done to your good name & credit history. A credit report is simply a snapshot in time of your history of borrowing and a history of making payments. A history of your use of credit that has been extended to you by your various creditors.
Examining the appendix of Mari Frank’s second book, “Victim to Victor” will show you all the lawerly correspondence she has prepared for you to use. All of these letters are found on the accompanying CD-ROM. Already typed and waiting to be completed and mailed by you.
Mari shows you which letters to send to whom and when and why and what type of response to expect. She includes necessary log sheets, affidavits and housekeeping paperwork and logs to track your progress.
In excruciating detail Mari holds your hand and even shows you how to guard against mental issues during this stressful time in your life. And it is stressful! This second book answers the questions: Where do I start?, What do I need to start. What do I send to whom and when and how. What do I ask for?, What do I demand in writing. What do I do with the Sheriffs report. How long should I expect to wait for replies to my correspondences. What to save, what to through out.
The appendix of her book looks something like this:
Appendix A (Letters, Affidavits, and Logs)
Letter 1 A: Dealing with Credit Reporting Agencies (Initial Letter)
B: Dealing with Credit Reporting Agencies (Follow-up Letter)
Letter 2 A: Dealing with Credit Grantors With Fraud ;or Creditors, Banks, Department Stores, Phone Cards, Etc.) ..
B: Dealing with Credit Grantors (Collection Agencies)
C: Dealing with Credit Grantors Non-Fraud
D: Dealing with Stolen Checks, Etc.
E: Dealing with Credit Grantors Other Non-Fraud (For Bank Accounts, Investment Accounts, and Utility Companies) Letter 3 A: Dealing with Law Enforcement (Police Report)B: Dealing with Law Enforcement (Response to Refusal to Provide Police Report)C: Follow-up with Law Enforcement Police Report - After Credit Reports Received
1: Addendum to the Police
Letter 3 A : Dealing with Law Enforcement and Prosecutors Regarding Criminal Identity Theft (Where Perpetrator Commits Other Crimes In the Victims Name)
Letter 4 : Dealing with Postal Authorities (For Local Postmasters Where Fraudulent cards Were Sent)
Letter 5 A: Dealing with The Social Security Administration
Letter 5 B: Dealing with IRS/State Tax Board
Letter 6 A: Dealing with Department Of Motor Vehicles: Dealing with Insurance Providers (Auto, Healthcare, or other Insurance Policy if Necessary)
Letter 7 : Dealing with U.S. Passport Agency
Letter 8 A: Dealing with Civil Legal Actions Against You (Or Bankruptcy in Your Name)
Letter 8 B: Dealing with a Judge (after an Arrest of an Impersonator) - Victim Impact Statement
Letter 9 : Dealing with licensing Agencies
All of the above letters and logs can be found on the accompanying CD-ROM ready for your use.
Copies of completed applications at the businesses your impostor stole your identity may also prove that you are a victim. For example, you may be able to show that the signature on an application is not yours. These documents may contain information about the identity thief stole your identity and will be valuable to law enforcement. Remember, by law, companies must give you a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your identity theft -if you submit your request in writing. Be sure to ask the company representative where you should mail your request. Companies must provide these records at no charge to you within 30 days of receipt of your request and your supporting documents. This is one of your rights as a victim.
What Constitutes Proof of Your identity.
This may be a photocopy of a government-issued ID card, the same type of information the identity thief used to open or access the account with. Or, it may be the type of information the company usually requests from applicants or customers, and police reports including a completed affidavit which can be found in both of Mari Franks books.
You may find that most federal and state agencies, and some local police or sheriff departments, offer only "automated" reports - a report that does not require a face-to-face meeting with a law enforcement officer. Automated reports may be submitted online, or by telephone or mail. If you have a choice, do not use an automated report. Why? It's more difficult for the consumer reporting company or information provider to verify the information. Unless you are asking a consumer reporting company to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report, you will probably have to provide additional information or documentation when you use an automated report.
Accurate and complete records will help you to resolve your identity theft quicker than sloppy incomplete record keeping. Follow Mari Franks instructions, keep a telephone log, buy enough three ring binders etc.
With Mari's guidance you will have a plan when you contact each company. Don't assume that the person you talking to will give you all the information or help you need. Prepare a list of questions to ask the representative, as well as information about your identity theft. Don't end the call until you're sure you understand everything you've been told. If you need more help, ask to speak to a supervisor. Write down the name of everyone you talk to, what he or she tells you, and the date the conversation occurred. Take detailed notes on every telephone conversation.
Follow up in writing with all contacts you've made on the phone or in person. This sounds redundant but do it! Use certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document when the company received your letter. Keep copies of all correspondence or forms you send. Keep the originals of supporting documents, like police reports and letters to and from creditors, send copies only. Set up a filing system for easy access to your paperwork. Don't worry, Mari will show you how. Keep old files even if you believe your case is closed. Once resolved, most cases stay resolved, but problems can crop up. Like a really stubborn weed in your yard.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and
unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information
to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to
get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP
(1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell this information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies.
Make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job. That is why we should review ours every 4 months for free. Because the information in it affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report not theirs.
There are certain situations that if they arise, you are entitled to a FREE credit report outside the normal one per year from each of the Big 3 credit reporting companies
First of all, an adverse action automatically generates a FREE
credit report. What is an adverse action? Someone denies your application
credit, insurance or employment based on information found in your credit report. Of course this only works is the entity your dealing with tells you based on something they found in your credit file, they are denying your application.
There are three other circumstances when you qualify for a free credit report, That is to say, one of the circumstances is present and for that reason you wish to review your credit history. 1) If your are unemployed and plan to look for a job, it might be a good idea to check your credit file. 2) If you are on welfare, you can order a free copy of your credit report, and finally, If your report is simply inaccurate due to fraud. And as you have learned Identity Theft is a form of fraud.
We have also learned that there are 3 ways to obtain a FREE credit reports, rather that paying the $10.50 or more some website charge for one.
Annual Credit Report Request
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually.
They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com,
1-877.322.8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281,
Atlanta, GA 30348.5281. Got It?
Under federal law, you’re also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, based on information in your report. You must ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the adverse action.
Remember, you’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, which includes identity theft.
Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company (CRA) and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a consumer reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law, contact both the consumer reporting company and the information provider.
Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items in question — usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information.
=============================== SAMPLE LETTER ===============================Sample Dispute Letter
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Company
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have circled the items I dispute on the attached copy of the report I received.
This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be removed (or request another specific change) to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records and court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing.)
See this link to an MS Word file format of the above letter
When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This free report does not count as your annual free report. If an item is changed or deleted, the consumer reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete.
If you ask, the consumer reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. And you can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the consumer reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.
Tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, it must include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct — that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate — the information provider may not report it again.
Not all creditors supply information to consumer reporting companies: some local retailers, credit unions, and travel, entertainment, and gasoline card companies are among the creditors that don’t.
If you’ve been told that you were denied credit because of an “insufficient credit file” or “no credit file” and you have accounts with creditors that don’t appear in your credit file, ask the consumer reporting companies to add this information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many consumer reporting companies will add verifiable accounts for a fee. However, understand that if these creditors do not report to the consumer reporting company on a regular basis, the added items will not be updated in your file.
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years.
The following material is taken directly from U.S. Government publications
Everyone has the right to file a report with their local law enforcement organization. The Department of Justice (State) is mandated to keep a database of victims who suffer from ID theft which is to include your fingerprints. Access in general to this database will be limited to victims, criminal justice agencies and any individuals or agencies authorized by you the victim. And finally the Department of Justice will maintain a Toll free number to the administrator of this database. (To have mistakes in data entry corrected)
Different laws determine your legal remedies based on the type of bank fraud. For example, state laws protect you against fraud committed by a thief using paper documents, like stolen or counterfeit checks. But if the thief used an electronic fund transfer, federal law applies. Many transactions may seem to be processed electronically but are still considered "paper" transactions. If you're not sure what type of transaction the thief used to commit the fraud, ask the financial institution that processed the transaction.
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act provides consumer protections for transactions
involving an ATM or debit card, or any another electronic way to debit
or credit an account. It also limits your liability for unauthorized electronic
fund transfers. You have 60 days from the date your bank account statement
is sent to you to report in writing any money withdrawn from your account
without your permission. This includes instances when your ATM or debit
card is "skimmed" - that is, when a thief captures your account
number and PIN without taking actual possession of your card.
If your ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately because the amount you can be held responsible for depends on how quickly you report the loss.
If you report the loss or theft within two business days of discovery, your losses are limited to $50.
If you report the loss or theft after two business days, but within 60 days after the unauthorized electronic fund transfer appears on your statement, you could lose up to $500 of what the thief withdraws.
If you wait more than 60 days to report the loss or theft, you could lose all the money that was taken from your account after the end of the 60 days.
Note: In real life, most card issuers have voluntarily agreed to limit or waive consumers' liability for unauthorized use of their debit cards, no matter how much time has elapsed since the discovery of the loss or theft of the card. But don't count on this and get lazy. Contact your card issuer for more information.
The best way to protect yourself in the event of an error or fraudulent transaction is to call the financial institution and follow up in writing - by certified letter, return receipt requested - so you can prove when the institution received your letter. Keep a copy of the letter you send for your records. After receiving your notification about an error on your statement, the institution generally has 10 business days to investigate.
The institution must tell you the results of its investigation within 3 business days after completing it and must correct an error within one business day after determining that it occurred. If the institution needs more time, it may take up to 45 days to complete the investigation - but only if the money in dispute is returned to your account and you are notified promptly of the credit. At the end of the investigation, if no error has been found, the institution may take the money back if it sends you a written explanation. For more information, see Electronic Banking and Credit, ATM and Debit Cards: What To Do If They're Lost or Stolen at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/. Fair Credit Billing
In general, if an identity thief steals your checks or counterfeits your
checks from your existing bank account, 1)stop payment, close the account,
2)ask your bank to notify the Chex Systems, Inc., or the check verification
service it uses. That way, retailers can be notified not to accept
these checks. While no federal law limits your losses if someone uses
your checks with a forged signature, or uses another type of "paper"
transaction such as a demand draft, state laws may protect you. Most states
hold the bank responsible for losses from such transactions. At the same
time, most states require you to take reasonable care of your account.
For example, you may be held responsible for the forgery if you fail to
notify the bank in a timely manner that a check was lost or stolen. Contact
your state banking or consumer protection agency for more information.
You can contact major check verification companies directly for the following services:
To request that they notify retailers who use their databases not to accept your checks, call the following check clearing companies:
TeleCheck at 1-800-710-9898 or 1-800-927-0188
Certegy, Inc. (previously Equifax Check Systems) at 1-800-437-5120
Chex Systems, Inc. 800 428-9263: www.chexhelp.com , FAX 602 659-2197,
Attn: Consumer Relations, 7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100, Woodbury, MN 55125
Global Payments: (800) 766-2748
ChexSystem: (800) 428-9623
TeleCheck: (800) 710-9898
Cross Check: (800) 843-0760
International Check:(800) 526-5380
If your checks are rejected by a merchant, it may be because an identity thief is using the Magnetic Information Character Recognition (MICR) code (the numbers at the bottom of checks), your driver's license number, or another identification number. The merchant who rejects your check should give you its check verification company contact information so you can find out what information the thief is using. If you find that the thief is using your MICR code, ask your bank to close your checking account, and open a new one.
If you discover that the thief is using your driver's license number or some other identification number, work with your DMV or other identification issuing agency to get new identification with new numbers. Once you have taken the appropriate steps, your checks should be accepted.
The check verification company may or may not remove the information about the MICR code or the driver's license/identification number from its database because this information may help prevent the thief from continuing to commit fraud.
If the checks are being passed on a new account, contact the bank to close the account. Also contact the check verification companies listed above to review your consumer report to make sure that no other bank accounts have been opened in your name.
Dispute any bad checks passed in your name with merchants so they don't
start any collections actions against you. [Top]
U, S. Trustee (UST) - www.usdoj.gov/ust
If you believe someone has filed for bankruptcy in your name, write to the U.S. Trustee in the region where the bankruptcy was filed. A list of the U.S. Trustee Programs' Regional Offices is available on the UST website, or check the Blue Pages of your phone book under U.S. Government Bankruptcy Administration.
In your letter, describe the situation and provide proof of your identity. The U.S. Trustee will make a criminal referral to law enforcement authorities if you provide appropriate documentation to substantiate your claim. You also may want to file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney and/or the FBI in the city where the bankruptcy was filed. The U.S. Trustee does not provide legal representation, legal advice, or referrals to lawyers.
That means you may need to hire an attorney to help convince the bankruptcy
court that the filing is fraudulent. When you or your attorney ask the
bankruptcy court to dismiss the fraudulently filed bankruptcy case, you
also should request that the bankruptcy court include in its order of
dismissal facts that will help you repair your credit, including a statement
that you did not file this bankruptcy case and that the case was filed
by an impostor as the result of identity theft. Ask the bankruptcy court
to send a copy of the dismissal order to each consumer reporting company;
if the court will not do so, you should send the order to the consumer
reporting companies yourself. Some courts will even provide you with several
official copies of the order at no charge so that you can send them to
creditors or use them in case of future problems. The U.S. Trustee does
not provide consumers with copies of court documents. You can get them
from the bankruptcy clerk's office for a fee [Top]
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) establishes procedures for correcting
fraudulent information on your credit report and requires that your report
be made available only for certain legitimate business needs.
Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (the business that sent the information to the consumer reporting company), such as a bank or credit card company, are responsible for correcting fraudulent information in your report. To protect your rights under the law, contact both the consumer reporting company and the information provider.
Consumer Reporting Company Obligations
Consumer reporting companies will block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report if you take the following steps: Send them a copy of an identity theft report and a letter telling them what information is fraudulent. The letter also should state that the information does not relate to any transaction that you made or authorized. In addition, provide proof of your identity that may include your SSN, name, address, and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting company.
The consumer reporting company has four business days to block the fraudulent
information after accepting your identity theft report. It also must tell
the information provider that it has blocked the information. The consumer
reporting company may refuse to block the information or remove the block
if, for example, you have not told the truth about your identity theft.
If the consumer reporting company removes the block or refuses to place
the block, it must let you know.
The blocking process is only one way for identity theft victims to deal with fraudulent information. There's also the "reinvestigation process," which was designed to help all consumers dispute errors or inaccuracies on their credit reports. For more information on this process, see How to Dispute Credit Report Errors and Your Access to Free Credit Reports, two publications from the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Sample Blocking Letter to a Consumer Reporting Agency - MS Word 2003 format
Sample Blocking Letter Consumer Reporting Company
Your City, State, Zip Code
Name of Consumer Reporting Company
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am a victim of identity theft. I am writing to request that you block the following fraudulent information in my file. This information does not relate to any transaction that I have made. The items also are circled on the attached copy of the report I received. (Identify item(s) to be blocked by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)
Enclosed is a copy of the law enforcement report regarding my identity theft. Please let me know if you need any other information from me to block this information on my credit report.
Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing.)
Information providers stop reporting fraudulent information to the consumer reporting companies once you send them an identity theft report and a letter explaining that the information they're reporting resulted from identity theft. But you must send your identity theft report and letter to the address specified by the information provider. Note that the information provider may continue to report the information if it later learns that the information does not result from identity theft.
If a consumer reporting company tells an information provider that it has blocked fraudulent information in your credit report, the information provider may not continue to report that information to the consumer reporting company. The information provider also may not hire someone to collect the debt that relates to the fraudulent account, or sell that debt to anyone else who would try to collect it. [Top]
The Fair Credit Billing Act establishes procedures for resolving billing
errors on your credit card accounts, including fraudulent charges on your
accounts. The law also limits your liability for unauthorized credit card
charges to $50 per card. To take advantage of the law's consumer protections,
Write to the creditor at the address given for "billing inquiries," NOT the address for sending your payments. Include your name, address, account number, and a description of the billing error, including the amount and date of the error. A sample Blocking letter, see previous link .
Send your letter so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. If an identity thief changed the address on your account and you didn't receive the bill, your dispute letter still must reach the creditor within 60 days of when the creditor would have mailed the bill. This is one reason it's essential to keep track of your billing statements, and follow up quickly if your bills don't arrive on time.
You should send your letter by certified mail, and request a return receipt. It becomes your proof of the date the creditor received the letter. Include copies (NOT originals) of your police report or other documents that support your position. Keep a copy of your dispute letter.
The creditor must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days after receiving it, unless the problem has been resolved. The creditor must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter.
For more information, see Fair Credit Billing and Avoiding Credit and Charge Card Fraud, two publications from the FTC at Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards: What To Do If They’re Lost or Stolen.
Bills must be mailed 21 days before the due dates versus the current 14 days.
Banks must provide 45 days notice before making significant changes to their rates or fees.
New rules bar banks from increasing fees or rates without warning when a consumer misses a payment or exceeds a credit limit.
Consumers also will be allowed to avoid future interest-rate increases and pay off any outstanding balance over time under the original rate terms.
The bulk of the legislations key provisions will take effect in
Including limits on interest-rate increases
The cost of borrowing also will rise companies say, since they will have to be more careful about giving credit
If the arrest warrant is from a state or county other than where you live, ask your local police department to send the impersonation report to the police department in the jurisdiction where the arrest warrant, traffic citation, or criminal conviction originated.
The law enforcement agency should then recall any warrants and issue a "clearance letter" or "certificate of release" (if you were arrested/booked). You'll need to keep this document with you at all times in case you're wrongly arrested again. Ask the law enforcement agency to file the record of the follow-up investigation establishing your innocence with the district attorney's (D.A.) office and/or court where the crime took place. This will result in an amended complaint. Once your name is recorded in a criminal database, it's unlikely that it will be completely removed from the official record. Ask that the "key name" or "primary name" be changed from your name to the impostor's name (or to "John Doe" if the impostor's true identity is not known), with your name noted as an alias.
You'll also want to clear your name in the court records. To do so, you'll need to determine which state law(s) will help you with this and how. If your state has no formal procedure for clearing your record, contact the DA's office in the county where the case was originally prosecuted. Ask the DA's office for the appropriate court records needed to clear your name. You may need to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you clear your name. Contact Legal Services in your state or your local bar association for help in finding an attorney. Finally, contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to find out if your driver's license is being used by the identity thief. Ask that your files be flagged for possible fraud. Certificate of Innocence
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from
using unfair or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that a creditor
has forwarded for collection, even if those bills don't result from identity
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you in two ways
Write a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the debt collector receives your letter, the company may not contact you again - with two exceptions: They can tell you there will be no further contact, and they can tell you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.
Send a letter to the collection agency, within 30 days after you received written notice of the debt, telling them that you do not owe the money. Include copies of documents that support your position. Including a copy (NOT original) of your police report may be useful. In this case, a collector can renew collection activities only if it sends you proof of the debt.
If you don't have documentation to support your position, be as specific as possible about why the debt collector is mistaken. The debt collector is responsible for sending you proof that you're wrong. For example, if the debt you're disputing originates from a credit card you never applied for, ask for a copy
of the application with the applicant's signature. Then, you can prove that it's not your signature.
If you tell the debt collector that you are a victim of identity theft and it is collecting the debt for another company, the debt collector must tell that company that you may be a victim of identity theft.
http://www.calcollectors.net/ California Association of Collectors
Identity Theft It's Not Fair...It's Not My Debt!
Someone has stolen your identity and used it to purchase and accumulate debt. The creditors and debt collectors are contacting you. What should you do? How can the collection agency help? It Can Happen To You.
From the above mentioned website
If you think your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license or a non-driver's ID card, contact your state DMV. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles
CA DMV Fraud Department Phone
Phone / Out of State: 916-657-2274
How to apply for a duplicate (replace lost or stolen) driver license or identification (ID) card
To apply for a duplicate license or ID card, you will need to:
Make an Appointment(s)
to visit a DMV office
Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application form DL 44 or DL 44C. (An original DL 44 or 44C form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.) For a duplicate driver license, minors must have parents or guardians signatures on the DL 44
Pay the application fee
Give a thumb print
Have your picture taken
To ensure your identity is secure, the DMV will validate your photograph, social security number, and your personal information.
Parents or guardians signatures - accepting liability for a minor a minors application for a driver license must have the signatures of:
Both parents, if the parents are California residents and have
joint custody, or
Both parents, if divorced, with joint custody, or
One parent, if that parent has custody, or
Guardians of the minor, if neither parent is living or has custody, or
The person(s) having actual full and complete custody, if no legal guardian is appointed.
NOTE: Nonresident parents cannot sign the application form and cannot accept liability for a minor in California. Nonresident military parents stationed and living in California can sign the application form and accept liability for a minor.
When parents or guardians sign for a minor to get a driver license, they are stating that they will accept financial responsibility for that minor. Financial responsibility in California requires that drivers and vehicle owners carry the following minimum monetary limits:
$15,000 for injury or death of 1 person per accident
$30,000 for injury or death of 2 or more persons per accident
$5,000 for any property damage per accident
Evidence of financial responsibility must be carried at all times in the vehicle. Most Californians maintain financial responsibility through insurance companies, which provide the policy holder with an identification card to be used as evidence of coverage. The card must state the insurance companys name and address, the period of coverage, and policy number.
You will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days and/or a receipt for your ID card until you receive your new photo license and/or photo ID card in the mail. Check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if your address is incorrect. Your new license and/or ID card will be mailed to you within 60 days. If you have not received your license and/or ID card after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your interim license and/or ID card receipt with you to provide information when requested.
The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Assistance serves investors who complain to the SEC about investment fraud or the mishandling of their investments by securities professionals. If you believe that an identity thief has tampered with your securities investments or a brokerage account, immediately report it to your broker or account manager and to the SEC. You can file a complaint with the SEC's Complaint Center at www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml. Include as much detail as possible. If you don't have Internet access, write to the SEC at: SEC Office of Investor Education and Assistance, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. For answers to general questions, call 202-551-6551.
How does the SEC handle complaints
U.S, Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) -http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/
The USPIS is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service, and investigates cases of identity theft. The USPIS has primary jurisdiction in all matters infringing on the integrity of the U.S. Mail. If an identity thief has stolen your mail to get new credit cards, bank or credit card statements, prescreened credit offers, or tax information, or has falsified change-of-address forms or obtained your personal information through a fraud conducted by mail, report it to your local postal inspector.
You can locate the USPIS district office nearest you by calling your local post office, checking the Blue Pages of your telephone directory, or visiting http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/. Hotline Phone Number 888 877-7644, Fax: (866) 756-6741, email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
United States Department of State (USDS) go to this webpage -http://travel.state.gov/passport/lost/lost_849.html
or their main page The United States
Department of State, http://travel.state.gov/
If you've lost your passport, or believe it was stolen or is being used fraudulently, contact the USDS through their website, or call a local USDS field office. Local field offices are listed in the Blue Pages of your telephone directory. Generally speaking passports reported lost or stolen are invalidated and can no longer be used for travel.
To Report a Lost or Stolen Passport: Complete Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport,
Form DS-64 Web page at the USDS, Lost or Stolen Passport
1. Fill in as much of the passport information as you can.
2. Answer all the other questions in detail.
3. Sign and submit above Form DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport, to:
U.S. Department of State Passport Services Consular Lost/Stolen
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
This Agency now issues
the US Passport Card on-site!
Federal Building 11000 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1000
Los Angeles, CA 90024-3615
Hours: 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.,local time
Monday through Friday
Call and find out if the DS-11 and DS-64 forms should be mailed to the local office in Los Angeles or the address in Washington DC
Follow this Link to register for an appointment
Los Angeles Office of the United States Department of State (310) 235-6292
How to Report and Replace a Lost or Stolen Passport in the U.S.
There are two steps required to get a new passport. First,
you must report your valid passport lost or stolen immediately. This is
required of anyone who loses or has a passport stolen. The second
step is to replace your passport. Both steps and forms required are described
In order to protect yourself from identity fraud it is important to report a lost or stolen valid passport immediately!
Do not mail your new passport application to this address. In order to obtain a new passport you must appear in person at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility as outlined below.
* If your still valid passport was lost or stolen, please submit the
DS-64 form with the DS-11
application when you apply for a replacement at a Passport Agency or Acceptance
Facility. NOTE: You must appear in person.
* The information you provide on the DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport will be entered in our Consular Lost/Stolen Passport System.
* Passports reported lost or stolen are invalidated and can no longer be used for travel.
* If you recover the passport after you have reported it lost or stolen, please submit it to the address listed above. When you submit it, if requested - we will cancel it and return it to you. If not requested, it will be destroyed.
* Once a passport is reported lost or stolen, it cannot be revalidated.
Regarding the completion of form DS11 Application for a new Passport:Complete
the following bland application for Passport, Form
DS-11 or you may also complete the form on-line at the United
States Department of State webpage
YOU MUST SUBMIT FORM DS-11 IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING ARE TRUE:
* You have never been issued a U.S. Passport or
*You are under age 16 or
* You were under age 16 when your previous passport was issued or
* Your most recent U.S. Passport was issued more than 15 years ago or
* Your most recent U.S. Passport was lost or stolen or
* Your name has changed since your previous U.S. Passport was issued and you are unable to legally document your name change
You must appear in person at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility.
Complete Question #18 as follows:
* Write your name as it appeared in your
* Write the approximate date of issue.
* Include the passport number if known.
* Under "DISPOSITION", mark the appropriate box.
* If your passport was expired, write "EXPIRED" next to the "OTHER" box.
Submit your form: To a passport acceptance facility. You will also need photos, documentation and fees. See How to Apply in Person.
NOTE: If you travel extensively, you may request a larger, 48-page passport at no additional cost. To do so, please attach a signed request for a 48-page passport to your application.
Form DS-64: Statement Regarding
a Lost or Stolen Passport
STEPS TO SUBMITTING COMPLETED FORM DS-64:
Read and understand Steps 1-3 before leaving this page. Passports reported lost or stolen are invalidated and can no longer be used for travel. See Important Notes for more information.
STEP 1: Print and Complete Form
When completing Form DS-64, do so legibly and in black ink. Answer all questions completely. If you do not know the answer in detail, be as exact as possible.
NOTE: Form DS-64 can also be obtained from any Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency.
STEP 2: Sign and Date
You must sign and date Form DS-64 on page 1 of the form.
To replace your lost or stolen U.S. Passport, submit Form DS-64 with completed Form DS-11 to an Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency.
If you are not applying for a replacement passport at this time, but wish to report the loss or theft of your U.S. Passport, submit Form DS-64 to:
U.S. Department of State
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
* The information you provide on Form DS-64: Statement Regarding a Lost
or Stolen Passport will be entered in our Consular Lost/Stolen Passport
* If you recover the passport after you have reported it lost or stolen, please submit it to the address listed above. When you submit it, if requested - we will cancel it and return it to you. If not requested, it will be destroyed.
You should make an appointment to be seen at a Regional Passport Agency only if:
* The U.S. Passport is needed in less than 2 weeks for international
* The U.S. Passport is needed within 4 weeks to obtain a foreign visa
Contact the National Passport Information Center to make an appointment
or locate a Passport Agency
What is your Social Security Statement? Your Social Security Statement is a concise, easy-to-read personal record of the earnings on which you have paid Social Security taxes during your working years and a summary of the estimated benefits you and your family may receive as a result of those earnings. Follow the above link to learn more.
" Even though we are sending out Statements automatically, you may request one at any time. You can send your request by Internet, download a paper version of the request form to mail in, or call our toll-free telephone number 1-800-772-1213 and ask to have a paper request form mailed to you. The forms are also available at our local Social Security offices."
If you have specific information of SSN misuse that involves the buying
or selling of Social Security cards, may be related to terrorist activity,
or is designed to obtain Social Security benefits, contact the SSA Office
of the Inspector General. You may file a complaint online at www.socialsecurity.gov/oig,
call toll-free: 1-800-269-0271, fax: 410-597-0118, or write: SSA Fraud
Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.
You also may call SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your SSN, request a copy of your Social Security Statement, or get a replacement SSN card if yours is lost or stolen. Follow up in writing.
SSA Fraud Hotline for Reporting Fraud www.ssa.gov/oig/guideline.htm
Social Security: Your Number and Card, Hint: Click on"Open it with Default application", option SSA Pub. No. 05-10002)
Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number, Hint: Click on"Open it with Default application",option (SSA Pub. No. 05-10064)
The IRS is responsible for administering and enforcing tax laws. Identity
fraud may occur as it relates directly to your tax records. Visit www.irs.gov
and type in the IRS key word "Identity Theft" for more information.
If you have an unresolved issue related to identity theft, or you have suffered or are about to suffer a significant hardship as a result of the administration of the tax laws, visit the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service website www.irs.gov/advocate or call toll-free: 1-877-777-4778.
If you suspect or know of an individual or company that is not complying with the tax law, report it to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Informant Hotline by calling toll-free: 1-800-829-0433 or visit www.irs.gov and type in the IRS key word "Tax Fraud."
1. If you receive a letter or notice from the IRS which leads you to believe someone may have fraudulently used your Social Security Number, respond immediately to the name and address or phone number printed on the IRS notice
2. If you receive a letter from the IRS that indicates more than one tax return was filed for you, this may be a sign that your SSN was used fraudulently.
3. Another sign that you may be the target of identity theft is an IRS letter indicating you received wages from an employer unknown to you.
4. The IRS has a department which deals specifically with identity theft issues. The IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit is available if you have been in contact with the IRS about an identity theft issue and have not achieved a resolution.
5. You can contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit by calling the Identity Theft Hotline at 800-908-4490 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 PM local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Standard Time).
6. The IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit is also available if you believe your identity may be at risk of being stolen due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet or due to questionable activity on your credit card or your credit report.
8. The IRS has many more resources available to help inform taxpayers about identity theft on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. On IRS.gov you can access information on how to report scams and bogus IRS Web sites. You can also visit the IRS Identity Theft Resource Page, which you can find by typing Identity Theft Resource Page in the search box on the IRS.gov home page.
9. The Federal Trade Commission is also available to assist taxpayers with identity theft issues. You can reach them at 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).
10. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for protection tips from the federal government and the technology industry.
. The IRS never initiates communication with taxpayers about their tax account through emails. If you receive an e-mail or find a Web site you think is pretending to be the IRS, forward the e-mail or Web site URL to the IRS at email@example.com.
Ten Things the IRS Wants You to Know About Identity Theft
What does the Fair Credit Reporting Act mean for You?
1. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit profile from each of the Big 3 credit reporting agencies every year.
2. You are also entitled to review your noncredit information, such as criminal activity, renting history, check writing habits, insurance claims and employment history. These reports are available from one of the Nationwide Specialty Consumer Reporting Agencies.
3. You have the right to be told about any information that is used against you.
4. You also have the right to dispute any bad information in your files.
5. Out dated information may not be reported. Generally this is information about your history from 7 to 10 years ago.
6. And most importantly, your employer or your prospective employer cannot
access you files without prior written authorization/permission from you!
Every year more and more of us use the internet to shop, bank and invest online. We are using either a credit card or debit cards. Debit card transactions usually require a PIN number, expert not always. However as we have learned, debit cards offer you impostor the opportunity to avail himself of the entire contents of that account - which is why expert tell to cut those cards up.
Furthermore, your liability for unauthorized use is different than regular credit cards. With the growth of the internet theses cards have on-line and off-line purchasing features while others can be reloaded with additional value. We now have "e-wallets", which are an example of stored value cards that are usually recharged or reload with either a debit or credit card.
You can increase the safety of on-line purchases by ensuring your web browser is using the latest updates available. If your browser is at a secured website featuring encryption you will see the padlock icon at the bottom of your screen. Examine the URL. If the "http" has been replaced with a "https" rest assured your are a a website protecting your transaction with encryption.
Along with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) there is legislation called the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA)
Under the FCBA, your liability for lost or stolen credit cards is $50.
If the loss involves only your credit card number and not the card itself,
you have no liability. What does this mean for us. Our liability is limited
to $50 for the following circumstances:
- unauthorized credit charges
- charges for goods or services you did not except or were not delivered as agreed
- charges that are incorrectly identified, or have the wrong amount or date or math errors
- a failure to properly reflect payments or credits
- not mailing or delivering credit bill statements to your current address, along as the address was received by the creditor in writing in the last 20
days before the billing period ended and "the charges for which you request an explanation or documentation because of a possible error.
Your responsibility: write to the address given for billing inquires within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. Take advantage of the USPS's certified mail, return receipt requested
Your creditor has 30 days from the receipt of your letter to acknowledge your letter. The creditor get two billing cycles or 90 days, which ever is longer to correct the mistake or explain why they think the bill is correct. Of course as leverage you have withheld payment on the questionable transaction.
The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) covers electronic fund transfers, transactions involving automated teller machines (ATMs), debit cards and other point of sale debit transactions and other transactions that result in a withdrawal of cash from your bank
Lost or stolen debit cards
You can lose from $50 to $500 if someone uses your debit card or makes electronic fund transfers with your permission depending on how soon you report the loss. Report the loss within two business days and you limit your loss to $50. Report the loss after 2 days and before 60 days of receiving your statement and you could loose up to $500. If you wait more that 60 days to report the loss and you stand to loose all the money you had in the account
Electronic Funds Transfer (EFTs) specifies how errors are handled.
With regard to:
- electronic fund transfers you did not make
- incorrect electronic fund transfers
- omitted electronic fund transfers
- a failure to properly reflect electronic fund transfers
- electronic fund transfers for which you request an explanation or documentation, because of possible error
You have 60 days after the receipt of the statement containing the error(s) to call them and also follow up it writing. This gives the financial institution 10 days to conduct and investigation and 3 days to notify of their results. If it was an error on behalf of the financial institution, they have 1 day in which to correct their mistake, however after they have returned to monies to your account they may take up to 60 days to conduct their investigation.
The FCBA & the EFTA may not cover situations involving a "store value card" that is lost or stolen. Before buying "stored valued cards" the FTC says buyer beware, ask about the terms of the card, does it expire, are there fees for "reloading" them with more funds and what is the issuing organization regarding lost or stolen cards.
One of the charters of the Federal Trade Commission is to work with consumers
to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices. File a
complaint with the FTC at (877) 382-4357 or visit www.ftc.gov. The FTC
maintains a database on internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other
fraud related activity
ChoicePoint, (877) 448-5732 ,1000 Alderman Drive, Alpharetta, GA 30005
Choice Trust, ,1000 Alderman Drive Alpharetta, GA 30005
First Advantage Safe-Rent, 888) 333-2413, Consumer Relations, Department 7300, Westmore Rd., Suite 3, Rockville, MD 20850-5223
Accufax, (800) 256-8898,
American Tenant Screen, (800) 888-1287 ,
ChoicePoint Tenant History Reports, (877) 448-5732,
National Tenant Network, (800) 228-0989 ,
Tenant Data Services, (800) 228-1837 ,
Tenant Screening Credit, (800) 388-2335,
UD Registry, (818) 785-3905,
Mortgage Finance History, Innovis, (800) 540-2505
Global Payments, (800) 766-2748
ChexSystems, (800) 428-9623,
Cross Check, 888.YES-2-CHX ,(800) 843-0760, 6119 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
TeleCheck at 1-800-710-9898 or 1-800-927-0188
Certegy, Inc. (previously Equifax Check Systems) at 1-800-437-5120, 100 2nd Ave. South, Ste. 1100S St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Chex Systems, Inc. 800 428-9263: , FAX 602 659-2197, Consumer Relations, 7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100, Woodbury, MN 55125
International Check acquired http://www.telecheck.com/:(800) 526-5380
How to Read Your
Sample Credit Report
How to read a TransUnion Credit Report
How to read a EquifaxCredit Report
How to read a Experian Credit Report
ID Theft Affidavit
Annual Credit Report Request
Sample letter to freeze your credit report
Sample Dispute Letter - Big 3 Credit Reporting Agencies
Sample Blocking Letter - Consumer Reporting Company
=================================End of Class Notes============================
"Safeguard Your Identity - Protect Yourself with a Personal Privacy Audit", By Mari Frank, Esq., 2003 ISBN 1-8912126-06-0, Porpoise Press, Inc., 28202 Cabot Road, Suite 300, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677, 800 725-0807
"From Victim to Victor: A Step-by-step Guide for Ending the Nightmare of Identity Theft", Br Mari Frank Esq., ISBN 1-892126-04-4, Porpoise Press, Inc., 28202 Cabot Road, Suite 300, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677, 800 725-0807
United State Government Printing Office, Pueblo Colorado, FTC, FCC, SEC and other publications
Scientific American, December 2008, Page 104 - 110. "Can Phishing be Foiled?" By Lorrie Faith Cranor
The following websites:
Form Letters available on the Web at the Identity Theft Recource