Q:What is Identity Theft?
A: Identity theft or identity fraud is the taking of the victim's identity to obtain credit, credit cards from banks and retailers, steal money from the victim's existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy or obtain a job using the victim's name. The Impersonator steals thousands of dollars in the victim's name without the victim even knowing about it for months or even years. Recently criminals have been using the victim's identity to commit crimes ranging form traffic infractions to felonies.
Q:What can I do to protect my identity?
A: Here are a few brief tips to help you avoid becoming an identity theft victim.
- Don't provide personal information to anyone unless you initiated the contact.
- Shred personal information before discarding.
- Protect PINs and passwords and don't make them easy for others to figure out.
- Carry only cards and driver's license you use routinely with you daily.
- Read account and billing statements carefully.
- Review your credit report annually from each of the three major bureaus
To order credit reports:
Currently, you are eligible to receive one free credit report during any 12-month period if you believe your file contains inaccurate information due to fraud.
Beginning September 1, 2005 all consumers will be able to order a free credit report annually from the three reporting agencies above through a centralized resource using this phone or web contact information.
Q:What can I do if I become an Identity theft victim?
A: If you become an identity theft victim follow these important steps:
- File a police report.
- Contact the fraud departments at the credit bureau numbers listed above
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission hotline 1-877-ID-THEFT
- Contact all creditors to inform them, close accounts, and obtain new cards and
To report fraud: