Dumpster DiverStack of Credit CardsId Theft CatComputer RoomLost Wallet
IDENTITY THEFT

WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?


Identity theft is when someone pretends to be you, and uses your personal information for fraudulent purposes.  They may use your information to obtain credit cards, take money from your existing accounts, apply for loans or jobs, or even file bankruptcy.  Thousands of dollars can be stolen by an identity thief, and the victim may not be aware of what has happened for days, months, or even a year or longer. 

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and affects more than 500,000 new victims each year.  You should be aware of how identity theft can occur, so that you can take steps to better protect yourself.




HOW YOUR IDENTITY CAN BE STOLEN:

Physical theft
   
    • if your purse or wallet is stolen with credit card or account information inside
 
    • placing the flag on your mailbox in an "up" position alerts identity thieves that there may be information inside that can be stolen

 
    • thieves can go through your trash for receipts, bank statements, or loan applications

 


Internet theft

Most commonly known as "phishing", it is the use of deceptive e-mail messages, instant messaging sites, social networking sites, or cell phone text messages to steal your personal information (date of birth, credit card information, PIN numbers, passwords, and more).

While the message may look legitimate, even displaying the address, logo or letterhead you associate with your bank or credit card company, it was created by a thief in hopes of getting you to share your personal information.  Remember this:  Your bank will NEVER send you a message via e-mail to ask you to verify or provide account information.  No legitimate business will ever ask you to provide any of this personal information through e-mail.  If you get a message saying you need to update your account information, call your financial institution.  Do NOT use the phone number, contact e-mail, or website link provided in the email or text message.  Locate the number for customer service by referring to a prior statement, on the company's official website, or by referring to the number located on your card issued to you.




 HOW TO MINIMIZE YOUR RISK OF BECOMEING A VICTIM:

     • shred all documents and mail that have any information that identify you - this includes pre-approved credit card applications,
        bank statements, and bills


     • never give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you are the one that initiated
        the contact and are aware of the party that you are dealing with.  If you receive a call from a creditor it never hurts to get their
        number and call them back.


     • never carry your social security card, passport, birth certificate, or other papers with your identification unless it is absolutely
        necessary

    
     • limit the amount of credit cards and confidential or personal information you carry in your wallet or purse

    
     • make a photo copy of everything you carry in your wallet/purse, front and back,  so that if it was ever stolen, you can
        immediately know what information is missing and you will have your account numbers and contact phone numbers for
        reporting.  Place the photocopy in a safe place.


     • make a list of all your credit card accounts and their contact phone numbers and store the list in a safe place

     • if making a purchase on the Internet, use only secured sites (secured means the transaction is protected by security software) 
    
     • never put your social security number on your checks and avoid putting your home phone number on them as well


     • don't choose passwords using your mother's maiden name, your date of birth, address or phone number

     • check your statements often for fraudulent activity

     • check your credit report every six months




WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM:

     • call your credit card company or bank as soon as possible to report and dispute the fraudulent charges and to close the
        affected account(s). 


     • report the crime to your local law enforcement agency where you reside.   Have any documents or copies of documents
        available for the officer taking the report.


     •  get a complete credit check on yourself and others in your home and tell them you are a victim of identity theft

     • contact the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-IDTHEFT



GOVERNMENT LINKS TO IDENTITY THEFT AND PROTECTION:

Federal Trade Commission  Free credit report, report identity theft, file a consumer complaint

Missouri Attorney General's Office



HOW TO GET YOUR CREDIT REPORT:

Equifax: www.equifax.com
P.O. Box 105873
Atlanta, GA  30348-5873
1-800-525-6285


Experian Information Solutions: www.experian.com
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX  75013-0949
1-888-397-3742


TransUnion: www.transunion.com
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA
1-800-680-7289





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