What You Should Know About This Growing Problem
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft involves the acquisition of key pieces of someone's personal information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, mother's maiden name and the like in order to impersonate them. Such information enables the criminal to commit various forms of fraud, which include, but are not limited to:
- Taking over your financial accounts
- Opening new bank accounts
- Purchasing new automobiles
- Applying for loans
- Applying for credit cards
- Applying for Social Security benefits
- Renting apartments
- Establishing utility services
Identity theft is against the law! Both the State of Missouri and the Federal Government have various laws that may be used to prosecute the identity thief.
The information contained in this document provides recommended actions to help you reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft. If you have already been claimed as a victim of identity theft, the brochure offers information regarding how to minimize your potential losses.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery.
- Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection mailboxes or at your local post office. Do not leave in unsecured mail receptacles.
- Never give personal information over the telephone, such as your social security number, date of birth, mother's maiden name, credit card number, or bank PIN code, unless you initiated the phone call. Protect this information and release it only when absolutely necessary.
- Shred pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills and other financial information you don't want before discarding them in the trash or recycling bin.
- Empty your wallet of extra credit cards and IDs, or better yet, cancel the ones you do not use and maintain a list of the ones you do.
- Order your credit report from the three credit bureaus once a year to check for fraudulent activity or other discrepancies.
- Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles, or unattended gasoline pumps. Keep track of all your paperwork. When you no longer need it, destroy it.
- Memorize your social security number and all of your passwords (PINs). Do not record them on any cards or keep them in your wallet, purse, or PDAs.
- Sign all new credit cards upon receipt.
- Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bills.
- Be conscious of normal receipt of routine financial statements. Contact the sender if they are not received in the mail.
- Notify your credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any change of address or phone number.
- Never put your credit card or any other financial account number on a postcard or on the outside of an envelope.
- Use caution when disclosing checking account numbers, credit card numbers or other personal financial data at a Web site or on-line service location unless you receive a secured authentication key from your provider.
- Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
What to do if you think you may be the victim of identity theft
- Contact all creditors (banks, credit card companies, etc.) by phone and in writing to inform them of the problem.
- File a police report with your local police department.
- Report the problem to the Federal Trade Commission Hotline:
- Call each of the three credit bureaus' (listed below) fraud units to report an identity theft. Ask to have a "FRAUD ALERT/VICTIM IMPACT" statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts.
- Equifax Credit Bureau, Fraud: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian Information Solutions: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion Credit Bureau, Fraud: 1-800-680-7289
- Alert your banks to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity. Request a change of PIN and a new password.
- Keep a log of all of your contacts and make copies of all documents pertaining to the identity theft.
- Contact the Missouri Department of Revenue at (573) 526-3669 to see if another driver's license was issued in your name. If so, request a new license number and ask them to initiate a fraud investigation regarding your license.
Helpful Phone Numbers
Chesterfield Police Department
Police Dispatch: 314-889-2341
Police Information: 636-537-3000
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
Social Security Administration
Federal Trade Commission Hotline:
Equifax Credit Bureau, Fraud
Experian Information Solutions
TransUnion Credit Bureau, Fraud