Tips to Avoid Becoming an Identity Theft Victim:

  • Carefully monitor the balances and statements of all your financial accounts.

  • Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals.

  • Place passwords on all of your financial accounts.

  • Limit the number of credit cards or other identifying information that you carry.

  • Tear or shred any identifying information before throwing it away.

  • Update the virus protection software on your PC regularly; do not open files from strangers or companies you don't know.

  • Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive before disposing of a computer.

Indications that ID Theft may have occurred:

  • Failing to receive bills or other mail on time.

  • Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply.

  • Denial of credit for no apparent reason.

  • Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about products or services you didn't buy.

Immediate Steps to Take If You are an ID Theft Victim:

  • Place a "fraud alert" on your credit reports, and add a "victim's statement" to your file requesting creditors contact you before opening new accounts in your name.

  • Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.  Call and speak to someone in the security or fraud department.  Follow up in writing sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.

  • File a "Miscellaneous Incidents" report at a police station where the identity theft occurred, and get a copy of the police report.  It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  You can file a complaint online at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/ : call 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

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