What to do if you believe you're a victim of identity theft: These are excellent procedures to follow. Keep them handy.
- Inspect your credit report. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history.
- 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.
- Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, a service created by these three companies, to order your free credit reports each year. You also can write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
- Your financial statements. Review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.
- As soon as you suspect you’ve become a victim of ID theft, place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
o Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
o Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
o TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
- Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
- File a police report. File a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
o Online: ftc.gov/idtheft
o By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
o By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580
- Have password security established on your account so no changes can be made without your password-authorized consent. If you’re an AT&T wireline or wireless customer, you can call one of the numbers below to have password security established on your telephone/wireless account.
- Wireline Residential and business customers call (866) 718-2011, or fax (866) 761-0538.
- AT&T Wireless residential and business customers call (877) 844-5584, or fax (704) 510-6998.
- Notify other utility providers, your bank and your credit card company to prevent fraudulent transactions.
- Notify the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Report the fraud and ask that your account be flagged. Ask the credit bureaus, in writing, to provide you with free copies of your credit report every few months so you can monitor it yourself.
- Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to report the fraudulent use of your Social Security number. As a last resort, the SSA may allow you to change your number if you meet its fraud victim criteria.
- Report the crime to your local police or the police where the identity theft occurred. Get a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime at a later date. Once a report has been filed, AT&T representatives can provide account activity information to the authorities.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) assists victims to resolve financial and other problems resulting from identity theft. Contact the FTC Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) or file a complaint online at the FTC website.
Stay safe, guys and gals.