Someone stole my identity, what do I do?
If you've been a victim of identity theft, be sure to contact:
- The three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. These companies monitor your financial decisions, including open lines of credit, your credit history and companies that have requested credit checks on you. Ask each credit bureau to place a fraud alert on your file, which means that no new lines of credit can be opened without your approval. Call Equifax at 1-800-997-2493, Experian at 1-800-397-3742, or Trans Union at 1-800-888-4213.
- Any company for which fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask an account specialist to review the information with you, and then close or freeze the account.
- Any companies with which you have open accounts, including credit, banking, loan and utilities. Check with the company representative that the account has not been misused. Ask that your passwords/account numbers be changed. Make sure the new password is not something easily guessable, such as your mother's maiden name. If necessary, close or freeze the account.
- Your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. If your driver's license number has been used to open accounts or verify checks, you will need to request a new number.
- Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271.
- Your local police department, as well as the police department in the city where the identity theft occurred. File a police report as proof the crime occurred.
- The Federal Trade Commission. File an identity-theft complaint online at www.ftc.gov. The Web site also provides resources for victims of identity theft, such as varying state laws and steps to resolve identity theft. You may also call the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft consumer hotline at 877-438-4338.
How Not to Get Hooked by a "Phishing" Scam
According to an FTC Consumer Alert, Internet scammers casting about for people's financial information have a new way to lure unsuspecting victims: They go "phishing."
Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with - for example, your Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to "update" or "validate" your account information. It might threaten some dire consequence if you don't respond. The message directs you to a Web site that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, but it isn't. The purpose of the bogus site? To trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.
The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:
- If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address. In any case, don't cut and paste the link in the message.
- Don't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
- Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Finally, your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
- Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
- If you receive an e-mail from Illiana Financial Credit Union requesting financial information or any other personal or sensitive data treat the e-mail with suspicion.
- Do not reply to the e-mail or respond by clicking on a link within the e-mail message. Illiana Financial Credit Union will never ask you to provide any kind of confidential or financial details via an e-mail request.
- Report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft.