Identity Theft - How to Protect Yourself

Definition - Identity theft occurs when someone steals or otherwise obtains your identity - personal information and then, the identity thief subsequently utilizes that information to defraud various individuals including you, your creditors, etc. The identity thief then uses this information to apply for and receive various "phony" credit cards, issued in your name in which huge charges are run up, with the identity thief obtaining the benefits of the purchase, and you being sent the bill! The identity thief can also use this information to try and sell your land, home and other property!

Identity thieves, armed with your name and address alone can wreak havoc. Identity thieves, by checking certain public records, with these, the identity thief can obtain your birthdate, who is suing you, whom you are suing, where and how much your property is worth! The identity thief can also obtain probate records of your parents, and your mother's maiden name! The identity thief can determine whether the IRS has filed any tax liens against you, etc. If the identity thief is lucky, he may even be able to luck on your social security number! If the identity thief is unable to get the social security # from public records, and gets it from your garbage or other source, a whole new panopia of illicit gains for the identity thief opens!

Additional ways for an identity thief to get starter information:

1) The identity thief cherrypicks from your abandoned garbage credit card receipts. 2) The identity thief sells door to door neighbors various goods and the identity thief asks your neighbors questions about you.

More illicit ways for the identity thief to trick you!

1) The identity thief files a change of address form to post office with redelivery of mail to a different address - maybe a vacant building! The identity thief then grabs your mail! 2) The identity thief steals your wallet or purse!

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3) The identity thief steals mail that may have goodies from mailbox - identity thief maybe offers postman a bribe! 4) The identity thief bribes bank employees or other people with sensitive date about you, to turn over key info to the identity thief. 5) identity thief hacks into computers with sensitive information.

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Identity Theft Prevention - credit cards

1) Insure credit card applications and receipts are secure. Identity thief may be watching! 2) Don't give credit card numbers over the phone, unless absolutely have to. It's usually best that you initiate the call ( and make sure other party is not on a mobile phone. An identity thief may be listening!). Faxing the number may be a useful alternative! If necessary, consider using a low limit credit card. Identity thief hates that! In fact, it's a good idea to have at least one low limit card for use for questionable transactions! This will hopefully thwart the identity thief! 3) Keep a list of your credit cardnumbers and accounts to notify creditors along with expiration dates and phone #'s in case of identity theft - better encode with a code that you can easily remember, but hard for others, like identity thief, to guess!

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4 To thwart identity thieves, shred all sensitive documents before tossing into the dumpster - not just credit card statements, preapproved applications. Identity thieves do "dumpster diving!"


5) Frustrate the identity thief by carrying the minimum # of credit cards for your trip. 6) Quickly reconcile bank/credit card statements to check for unauthorized charges by identity thieves and other crooks! 7) Avoid signing a blank charge card slip. If forced to, use a low limit credit card, to thwart identity thieves. 8) Avoid giving your credit card in public. Be careful in phone booths, an identity thief may be eavesdropping! In fact, if you are giving out a credit card number, which is generally not advised, would suggest giving out eight numbers, then move receiver away (or cover it with your hand) say 4 more numbers (to confuse an identity thief listening to you), then remove your hand and put mouth back on phone speaker, then continue completing the number! This should confuse the identity thief! 9) Pick your new checks up at the bank, or have sent to a secure facility, to avoid having identity thief rip you off!

Identity Theft Prevention - social security number

1) Never place your social security number in any public record, unless it is absolutely required. An identity thief, as well as public get get these. I have seen social security numbers listed in Deeds! These are public records! Smart identity thieves can steal these!

2) Try to avoid having your social security number used as ID at work. Your co-workers may be the identity thief. Or maybe your boss is an identity thief!

3)Avoid providing this # by telephone. An identity thief may be listening!

4) In general, anyone who absolutely does not have to have this information should not be allowed it, unless the benefit outweighs the risk (very substantial!) Identity theft is a serious matter, as an identity thief can wreck havoc unto your life.

Identity Theft Prevention - bank

1) Do not use an obvious password - memorize it, do not write it down. An identity thief may obtain it.

2) Shield your ID number at ATM machine from identity thief, or other, prying eyes!

3) To frustrate identity thieves, ask bank if extra password security protection can be added for withdrawals.

4) Avoid placing the key, identity theft prone numbers - like social security #, driver license # on checks!

Identity Theft Prevention - mail, post office

1) Maintain low profile. Take steps to reduce non-essential mail -


a) Visit to help remove junk mail

b) ask every company sending junk mail to stop using name. c) do not sign up for contests - your name will be resold multiple times! d) stop credit bureaus from selling your header info - contact them.

3) Protect mail from being stolen. Identity theft can occur when they obtain your mail! a) install a locked mailbox to help frustrate the identity thief. b) immediately check with post office if mail suddenly stops unbeknownth to you. An identity thief may have filed a change of address form on you!

Summary - Identity Theft

1 Provide the minimum information that can be used by an identity thief against you. 2 Maintain low profile. Obtain copies of credit reports regularly -

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Avoid giving out information, unless benefit is greater than the risk. Identity theft is a substantial risk:

a) name and address b) social security number c) date of birth d) credit card numbers e) bank account numbers f) brokerage account numbers g) passwords h) mother's maiden name i) location of real property

Identity Theft - Notifying Creditors

It is very important that you immediately notify creditors upon learning of your identity being "stolen." Very often, by doing this, you will find your liability will be limited. Upon identity theft, notify creditors by calling the appropriate numbers they provide you, or you can subscribe to various services.

Identity Theft - Restoring Your Identity

Identity Theft - what to do after it occurs - steps to take!

IDENTITY THEFT NOTEBOOK - Create a notebook. When you call someone, make sure you write down the phone number, the time of the call, the persons name and what you discussed.

POLICE REPORT - call the police. Ideally, you would the police to visit you, take the crime information and provide you a copy of the police report! Make sure they list everything stolen. Do not neglect this as this is key to proving that you are not a deadbeat bad checkwriter, but truly a victim of a crime! Ask for, and write the case # down! Ask for the names of all the officers that will probably be participating in your case - like who took your call, who wrote the police report, etc. In New York and in a great many states, it is a crime to file a false police report! Follow the police instructions - i.e. regard to fingerprint detection, etc.

CALL CREDITORS - 1) contact merchants and other creditors in which you issued checks, and tell them that your check book was stolen, and that you plan to close the old account and open a new one. If they have not deposited them yet, ask them to allow you to substitute the new ones for the old. If they have, tell them you would like to stop payment and offer them a replacement check from new account, or cashiers check if they insist.

2) Contact bank and close account, unless there are some merchants or creditors that you were unable to contact and the effect from the risk of a check being returned, is greater than the probability of the thief writing a forged check that clears before your merchant/creditor's check does. See if your bank can attach a personal password for account access. Also, close out any overdraft protection , ATM cards, etc. When notices of bad checks come in, keep a copy for your file. Particularly note the reference number. Call the phone # listed and tell them that you are a victim of identity theft - fraud, and that you did not write those checks - that they contain a forged signature! If the bank has not done so, ask for a copy of the bad check to be mailed to you! 3) Contact all people, agencies in which you suspect or actual theft of key papers occurred, including but not necessarily limited to, passport agency, department of motor vehicles, social security, credit card banks and merchants and follow their reasonable advice. They may offer suprise advice, like whether you should change your driver license number, or why you should not change your social security number! Regarding cellular phone, it may pay to risk a few expensive calls, in order to obtain tracking information as to the whereabouts of the thief. Discuss with police and cellular phone carrier.

4) There are companies that you can have investigate bad checks. Contact them - here are some of them:

Equifax Claims Information System 800-4375120 Check Rite Collection Department 800-7662748 Equifax Information Center 800-6855000 Equifax Consumer Line 800-8983068 Check Rite Collection Department 800-7662748 Scan 800-2627771

They don't all have the same procedure, but in general , their goal is to have you prove that you really are an identity theft victim and not a "deadbeat." They will probably want you to complete an "affidavit of fraud or forgery," and to have it Notarized! They will probably want you to provide proof that you closed the checking account in which all those bad checks were written on account of the fraud and that your signature on the checks does not match that on your bank signature card! They may also want some form of ID such as a copy of your driver license. Also, record information in your special notebook summarizing the conversation - write the date and time of the conversation, the other conversant's name, any addresses and phone numbers, email addresses and fax numbers to send stuff to. Always keep a copy of anything you send or any correspondence you create. Also include a copy of the Police report.

5) Inform the major credit reporting agencies that your identity was stolen - Equifax 800-505-2136, Experian 800-301-7195, and Transunion 800-680-7289. Have them place a notation of the fraud in your file. Ask them to contact you whenever new credit is sought in your name. Ask to obtain a current copy of your credit report, in order to assess the damage. Identify any suspect activity! Also obtain reports frequently, to monitor the situation, and snuff out more damage as it occurs. Dispute any inaccurate information caused by the fraud. You have a legal right to do this.

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