Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What to do if you're a victim of identity theft

Unfortunately it seems like more and more people are becoming victims of Identity theft.  Identity theft is a term that is used by the media and law enforcement quite frequently, but do you know what it is? Simply put it is when someone uses your personal information (social security number, name, date of birth, credit card) for their gain.  Here in Meridian Township one of the more common ways we see this crime committed is when someone's purse or wallet is stolen from their car and then the credit cards are used to purchase something.

I know we've done a post before about what identity theft is and what to do when you are a victim of it, but I think it bares repeating.  The Federal Trade Commission recommends the following steps be taken when you discover your information has been compromised:

1.  Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and then review them.  There are two types of alerts that you can place on your accounts.  The first is a 90 day alert, which if your purse or wallet is stolen is what you want to do immediately. This will stop the thieves from opening accounts in your name.  The second type can last for 7 years. This is more of a long term solution to your information being compromised.  You will only have to call one of the consumer reporting companies as they are required to notify the other two.  The following is the contact information for those companies:
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
-  Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241
-  Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013

2.  Close the accounts that you know or believe have been opened fraudulently or tampered with.  Speak with someone in the fraud departments of your financial institutions.  Most are experienced in these matters and will help you through this process.  Make sure that you notify the institutions in writing as well (keep copies of all your correspondence).

3.  File a report with your local police department or the department where the identity theft occurred.  Make sure you get your complaint number and if possible a copy of the report as some financial institutions will require written proof that a crime did occur.  

4.  File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  You can file a complaint online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft, by phone at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653- 4261, or by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems

Do you recognize this woman?

**********************************UPDATE*************************************** With the help of citizens who responded to this post we h...