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© Rick Lohmeyer, 2011  301-404-2630
Identity Theft A form of fraud where someone pretends to be someone else to get goods or money; using your information to steal or ruin your credit. Identity theft is: Of many kinds: SSAN theft, credit history, medical identity, check fraud, computer fraud, financial identity theft Dumpster diving, or going through trash to find personal mail Skimming data from credit and debit cards Phishing with email and fake websites Sending fake change of address forms Stealing wallets and mail Pretexting - using fake identities to talk you out of information over the phone
Do not give anyone your personal information; you might just as well hand them the money.
Precautions to minimize your risk: Do not give out your personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact. Do not dispose of sensitive information such as credit card or bank statements in a usable format; tear or shred statements and receipts. Keep a close watch on all financial transactions and report any unauthorized transactions to the credit card company, bank, and police as soon as you discover them. Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts, avoiding easily identifiable information such as your mother’s maiden name. Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year. Carry only the identification information and credit cards that you’ll actually need and always keep your sensitive information in a secure place. Give your social security number out only when necessary; when possible ask to use other types of identifiers such as a drivers license. Be aware of information security procedures at places that require personal information from you such as at your workplace and your doctor’s office. Considering your computer: Use a firewall, especially if you have a high speed connection where your computer is continually connected to the Internet.Do not download files or click on hyperlinks that were presented to you by people or businesses that you are unfamiliar with. Update your virus protection software regularly. Use a secure browser in order to protect the safety of your online transactions. Try not to store financial information on your computer and avoid using automatic log- ins to your accounts. They are convenient but expose you to phishing of personal data. Before disposing of a computer, use a “wipe” utility program that overwrites your hard drive. Similar to the information sharing policies of institutions, be aware of web site privacy policies and if/how your personal information will be shared or viewed. Identity Theft Resolution: Contact the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Ask that your file be flagged with a fraud alert and add a victim’s statement to your file. Check back on a regular basis to see if information has changed Report the crime to law enforcement and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If the crime was done on the Internet, also contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Contact all institutions with which you do business and explain the situation. Close the accounts which you suspect have been compromised or opened falsely. Contact the creditors with whom your name has been used falsely as well as the debt collectors that may be requiring you to pay bills incurred through fraudulent means. Do not pay any part of a bill or cover a check that is a result of fraud or file for bankruptcy. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected by your identity theft.
Online Fraud
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