Identity Theft or Credit Card Theft

Disclaimer

What can you do to avoid identity theft?

  • Cancel any credit cards you haven’t used in 6 months with the credit card
    company.
  • You should not carry your social security number in your wallet. Also, if you have more than one credit card, you may want to consider only carrying one card for emergencies. Leave the others at home and only put in your wallet when you know you’re going to use them.
  • All of your credit card receipts, credit card solicitations, cancelled checks and any other document, which contains your personal information, should be shredded before it is thrown in the garbage.
  • Be wary of giving out personal information (birthdate, social security number or mother’s maiden name) to someone on the telephone unless you have confirmed the identity of the person who placed the call.
  • Once a year you should order a credit report from one of the credit-reporting agencies to verify that all of the information is accurate. Ask to have your name removed from lists sold to companies offering pre-approved credit cards.
  • Do not include your social security number on your personal checks. Also, do not allow salesclerks to copy your credit card information on your checks for additional information.
  • Do not carry your PINs or passwords with you in your wallet. Your PINs should not include your name, birthdate, social security number or that of someone in your family.
  • You should drop your paid bills in a U.S. Mailbox or at the U.S. Post Office rather than your personal mailbox.
  • Monitor all your statements from every credit card every month. Check to see if there is anything that you do not recognize and call the credit grantor to verify that it is truly yours.

What can you do to limit the damage of identity or credit card theft?

  • As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards {or at least notify the card issuer} and contact your bank immediately. You should keep a list of your account numbers and the telephone numbers for your accounts where you can find them easily. You should also file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit card was stolen; this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). Keep a log of all the people and agencies you contact.
  • Another very important thing to do is call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. The following are important phone numbers you should keep handy:
    • Equifax (800) 525-6285
    • Trans Union (800) 680-7289
    • Experian (888) 397-3742
    • Social Security Administration Fraud Line (800) 269-0271