Identity Theft

Warning Signs

  • Credit card or financial statements don't arrive.
  • Fraudulent charges on your credit card statement.
  • Suspicious inquiries on your credit report.
  • Phone calls from creditors or suddenly denied credit.

Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

  • Remove mail promptly from your mailbox and never use your mailbox for outgoing mail.
  • Thieves raid mailboxes for credit card offers and statements.
  • Destroy pre-approved credit card offers before you throw them out. It's best to shred financial statements, receipts, old cancelled checks and anything with personal information on them before discarding. You can delete your name for five years from many direct mail lists by sending your request in writing to:
    DMA Mail Preference Service, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
  • Never leave a store or ATM without your receipt. Do not throw them into public trash cans.
  • Block your ATM transaction with your body to prevent someone learning your PIN.
  • Account for all new checks for your checkbook when you receive them in the mail.
  • Memorize all passwords and PIN numbers so no one can find them. Don't be obvious when selecting a password by using the last four digits of your social security number, address, birth date, phone number, or any format that can be decoded by thieves.
  • Keep your birth certificate and social security card in a safe deposit box and only carry them with you when needed. If your social security number is used as your driver's license number or appears on another I.D. card, ask for a new card with a different number. Do not have it put on your printed checks.
  • Do not give out your social security number, PIN, or credit card numbers over the phone unless you initiated the transaction.
  • Limit the number of I.D. and credit cards that you carry and review your credit report each year.

Credit Report

You can obtain a free credit report once a year from each of the credit reporting agencies below or online at
Annual Credit Report
or 877.322.8228.

What To Do If You Are A Victim

  • Call all three credit bureaus above to let them know your identity has been stolen. Have them put a fraud alert on your file stating no new credit without your approval.
  • Contact your credit card companies, financial institutions and close your accounts. FBI suggests putting a password on any new accounts you open. (Not your mother's maiden name)
  • Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline: 800.269.0271
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission theft hotline: 877.438.4338
  • File a report with the police and get a copy of the report in case you need proof later.
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