One of the most dramatic increases is in crimes of a financial nature, specifically, identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone obtains a person's identifying information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, or mother's maiden name. Using this information illegally, an imposter can open new credit card accounts, drain our bank accounts, purchase automobiles, apply for loans, open utility services, etc. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Is it the number one consumer fraud complaint with over ten million victims each year. Current statistics show that one in four Americans will become victims in the next year.
What Is Your Identity
Any combination of the following information can provide enough for identity theft to occur:
The Basics of Safeguarding Your Information
Guard your Social Security Number
Check your wallet and limit the number of identification cards you carry
Shred, shred, shred
Protect your mail
Never give out your personal information
Sign up for Wisconsin's No Call List
Stop pre-approved credit card offers
Check your bills and bank statements
Keep a list of all credit cards and bank accounts
Pay attention to internet security
Check your credit report regularly
Keep sensitive documents in a safe place
On vacation, be aware of your environment
What To Do If You Are A Victim
No matter how many precautions you take, identity theft can still happen to you. If it does, you can take steps to stop it from happening again and to resolve the problems it has caused.
Notify the credit reporting agencies
Reporting the theft to each of the three major credit reporting agencies immediately and ask them to place a fraud alert on your report. The fraud alert will be active for 90 days. A fraud alert can be renewed every 90 days or seven years. A fraud alert notifies creditors if an attempt to open an account in your occurs. You may not necessarily be notified.
EQUIFAX (CSC Credit Services)
PO Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
PO Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Put a Security Freeze on your credit report
Report the theft to the police
File an identity theft complaint with the Office of Privacy Protection (OPP)
Office of Privacy Protection
2811 Agriculture Drive
PO Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911
Contact your creditors
Contact your bank
If an identity thief establishes phone or utility service in your name
Contact the Division of Motor Vehicles if your driver's license or ID card is stolen
WI Dept of Transportation
8417 Excelsior Drive
PO Box 7911
Madison, WI 53717
Contact the Postal Inspector if your mail was stolen or if an identity thief used a false address
If a debt collector contacts you
If you are accused of a crime committed in your name
Contact the Social Security Fraud Line at 1-800-269-0271
Contact the Federal Trade Commission
Keep a record of your contacts. Start a file with copies of your credit reports, police report, any additional correspondence, and copies of disputed bills.
BE PROACTIVE ABOUT PROTECTING YOUR CREDIT!
Instead of signing the back of your credit card, write in "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".
When mailing in a credit card account payment by check, only write the last four digits of the credit card account on the memo line.
Use a copy machine/scanner to copy the contents of your wallet and keep the copies in a secure place.
If traveling abroad, keep a copy of your passport with you in a safe place.
For a free credit report, you can log on to AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also request a copy by calling 1-877-322-8228 or completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form (pdf) at FTC.gov and mailing the form to Annual Credit Report Request Services, P.O. Box 15281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Thank you to the Office of Privacy Protection (Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection) for the helpful information borrowed and provided on this web page.