What is Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. It occurs when somebody uses your personal information for his or her personal gain. Laws have been passed to protect you, making ID theft both a Federal and a State crime.
How To Deter ID Theft
There are various ways to help avoid the crime of identity theft.
- Shred all personal information before throwing it away, including all junk mail and unwanted store receipts.
- Review your credit reports once a year. The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it.(see Resources)
- Review your bank and credit card statements line by line every month.
- Sign up for services that report any changes to your credit report (monthly fee).
- Protect your mail from ID thieves. Never place out going mail in your mailbox; use the post office or a drop box. Remove your mail from your mailbox promptly; if you are going on vacation, place a ‘hold’ on your mail.
- Do not carry social security cards in your purse/wallet. Remove extra credit cards and non-necessary information.
- Place passwords on all credit card, bank, and utility accounts. Avoid using your mother’s maiden name or a birth date as a password.
- Never give out personal information over the phone, Internet, or by mail unless you have initiated the contact or have verified the source.
- Pay attention to your billing cycle. If a bill does not arrive on time, it could mean someone has taken over your account.
- Never have new checks mailed to your house; always have them held at the bank for pick-up.
- Find out who at work might have your personal information and make sure that they have it secured.
- Protect your personal information at home from outside workers, roommates, and guests.
- Remember not to leave any personal/sensitive information in your car.
- Call the Pre-screening Opt Out number to end credit card offers. (see Resources)
How To Fix The Damage
If you believe you have become a victim of ID theft, there are some critical steps you should take to help avoid further victimization. It is important to know that the process of fixing your name will take time, so make sure you keep detailed records of all your conversations and correspondence.
- Call the fraud line for each of the credit reporting companies and ask them to place a ‘Fraud Alert’ on your report. Ask that a victim statement be added requiring creditors to call before opening new accounts. Ask for a copy of your credit report; the report is free for victims of fraud. Once you receive the report, check to see if there are any other fraudulent accounts opened. Check the ‘inquiries’ listed at the bottom, these tell you who has been looking at your credit and might give you tips as to where else your name was used to obtain credit.
- Contact all the creditors involved in any fraud. Ask to speak with the creditor’s security or fraud department and notify them of the situation. Close all compromised accounts and open new accounts with different account numbers and new passwords.
- Call your local police department and file a report; keep copies of the police report for your records. Even if the police are unable to catch the thief, these reports may be helpful in resolving your problems with creditors. If your mail was stolen call the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) (call local post office for number).
- File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade commission (FTC). The FTC has compiled a secure consumer fraud database and may pass the information on to other agencies or companies that your have reported about. They also have numerous resources available to help victims of identity theft.
- Request another copy of your credit report in the future to make sure all the corrections have been made.
U.S Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20580
ID Thief Hotline: (877) 438-4338
This website is a one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft. It provides detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft. On this site, consumers can learn how to avoid identity theft – and learn what to do if their identity is stolen. Click the link to find out more about identity theft and what you can do about it.
Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services
Division of Finance and Corporate Securities (DFCS)
To encourage a wide range of financial services, products, and information for Oregonians, delivered in a safe, sound, equitable, and fraud-free manner. Web site:
Free annual credit report. Its QUICK, EASY and SECURE.
Fight identity theft by monitoring and reviewing your credit report. You may request your free credit report online, request your report by phone or request your report through the mail. Free credit reports requested online are viewable immediately upon authentication of identity.
Credit Reporting Agencies:
P.O. Box 596
Pittsburgh, PA 15230
Order Report # (888) 397-3742
Fraud # (800) 311-4769
P. O. Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348
Order Report# (800) 685-1111
Fraud # (800) 525-6285
P.O. Box 34012
Fullerton , CA 92834
Order Report # (800) 916-8800
Fraud # (800) 680-7289
Identity Theft Resource Center®
Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of identity theft. The ITRC provides consumer and victim support as well as public education. Web site:
Social Security Administration (SSA)
P.O. Box 17768
Baltimore, MD 21235
Fraud Hotline: (800) 269-0271
Check Verification Companies
SCAN (800) 262-7771
TeleCheck (800) 710-9898
CrossCheck (707) 586-0431
Equifax Check Systems (800) 437-5120
Int. Check Services (800) 526-5380
Pre-screening Opt Out (888) 567-8688
Security Exchange Commission (202) 942-7040
Federal Communication Commission (888)-225-5322
United States Postal Service: