According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is
the fastest-growing crime in the country. The Patriot Act has
paved the way for financial institutions to help prevent fraud,
identity theft, and the spread of terrorism. It requires financial
institutions to obtain more information from an individual
or legal entity to establish identity. Your cooperation is
needed when you open a new account or request a loan. You may
be asked more questions to establish and confirm your identity.
You may also be required to provide one or more forms of identification.
There's increasing evidence that credit card, debit card, and similar fraud is
a major source of funding for terrorists. By obtaining personal information about
you-such as your debit or credit card numbers, personal identification numbers
(PINs), checking account numbers, social security number, and driver's license
number-terrorists can unlawfully make withdrawals or purchases in your name.
In doing so, they not only take what doesn't belong to them, which can damage
your credit and reputation in the process, but they may be funding terrorism.
To help prevent becoming a victim of fraud:
- Keep your credit cards, debit cards, PINs, checks, social security number,
driver's license number, and other personal information in a safe place.
- Keep deposit and withdrawal slips and credit card receipts where they will
be safe, and always shred them before they're disposed.
- Before disposing of credit card solicitations, credit card statements,
financial institution statements, utility bills, insurance information, medical
bills, and investment updates, shred them first.
- Don't put your trash out until shortly before it will be picked up.
- Don't put mail in your curbside mailbox until shortly before it will be
picked up or take your mail directly to the post office.
- Take your mail out of your curbside mailbox as soon as possible after it?s
delivered. And, if you're traveling, have the U.S. Postal Service hold your
mail or have someone you trust pick it up daily.
- Limit the information on your checks (for example, don't include your driver's
license number, social security number, or address), and don?t carry around
any more credit or debit cards than necessary.
- Don't give any of your personal information to anyone in person, over the
telephone or over the Internet, unless you have a very good reason to trust
- Don't give any of your personal information to any websites that don?t
use encryption or other secure methods to protect it.
- Use a firewall if you have a high-speed Internet connection. This software
can be purchased online or from most software retailers.
- Don't use PINs or other passwords that are easy to guess (such as family
birth dates or your pet?s name.)
- Examine your credit card, debit card, and bank statements immediately when
you receive them to determine weather there are any unauthorized transactions.
Report any that you find immediately to the financial institution.
- Make a prompt inquiry if bills or statements are not received in a timely
manner-this could mean they are being diverted by an identity thief.
- Obtain copies of your credit report annually from each of the three major
credit-reporting agencies (see below) to make sure they're accurate.
You may also wish to do the following:
- Request not to receive any further pre-approved offers of credit by calling
- Ask to be removed from national direct mail lists by writing to the DMA
Mail Preference Service at PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008. Include
your name and address.
- Ask not to receive telephone solicitations from national marketers by writing
to the DMA Telephone Preference Service at PO Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014.
Include your name, address, and telephone number.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission at:
- 1-877-438-4338 or
- Consumer Response Center, F.T.C.,
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20580
Contact the following three major credit reporting agencies to put yourself
on Fraud Alert and request a copy of your credit report:
- Equifax, P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374-0250 or call 1-800-525-6285
- Experian, P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013, or call1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634, or call 1-800-680-7289
Cancel all accounts that have fraudulent activity or are at risk.
Contact your local law enforcement agency.
Contact the U.S. Postal Service if you know or suspect your mail has been
Keep detailed records of any theft of your identity and of your activities
to resolve the theft, including logs of the following:
- The date, time and amount of any unauthorized activity on your accounts;
- The date, time, duration, and cost of any phone calls; and
- The date and cost of any mailings.