Identity Theft
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You Can Fight Identity Theft



Stop Identity Theft
There is a type of identity theft using the Internet called “phishing.”  Pronounced “fishing”, that’s exactly what thieves are doing, fishing for your personal financial information.  They want you account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers and other confidential information so they can use your financial accounts or run up bills on your credit cards.
                In the worst case, you could fine yourself a victim of identity theft.  With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even a driver’s license in your name.  They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel.  But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.



How phishing works
Typically, you’ll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and may do business with, such as your financial institution.  In some cases, the e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, perhaps a federal financial institution regulatory agency.
                The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention.  It may use phrases such as “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.”  The e-mail may also state that unless you provide certain confidential information your account will be deactivated or closed.  The e-mail will encourage you to click a link to go to the institution’s Website.
                In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony Website that may look exactly like the real thing.  Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company’s actual Website.  In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of collecting your financial information.
                You may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to your financial institution, such as your mother’s maiden name or your place of birth.
               



If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself a victim of identity theft.



How to protect yourself



 

What to do if you fall victim

 

 

If possible, file a report with local police or police in the community where the identity theft took place.  Obtain a copy of the police report or the report number.  It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.  If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a “Miscellaneous Incidents” report.



If you disclose sensitive information in a phishing attack, contact one of the three major credit bureaus listed below and discuss whether to place a fraud alert on your file.  A fraud alert will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name.



Equifax
800-525-6285
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
www.equifax.com

Experian
888-397-3742
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com

TransUnion
800-680-7289
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
www.transunion.com

 

You can fight identity theft
Here’s how:


 


 



To learn more about keeping your money safe, visit the http://www.mymoney.gov/scams.shtml Website.