Identity Theft

Identity Theft
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Conclusion
We cannot stop all incidences of identity theft,
but following the 3D’s can help reduce your risk and
manage the damage so it causes the least amount of
impact on your life.
This brochure, prepared by the Public Information
Committee of the Louisiana State Bar Association, is
issued to inform and provide general information, not
to advise. If you have a specific legal problem, you
should not try to apply or interpret the law without
the aid of an attorney who knows the facts because
the facts may change the application of the law.
For further information, call or write to:
Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Ave.
New orleans, LA 70130-3404
(504)566-1600
www.lsba.org
Revised Jan. 1, 2010
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What is Identity Theft?
Deter
Defend
Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal
identifying information — including your name, Social
Security number, address, bank number/credit card
number — without your permission to commit fraud or
other crimes.
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that
more than 9 million people a year are victims of identity
theft.
The crime of identity theft can take many forms,
including obtaining credit cards in your name without
your permission, renting an apartment in your name
without your permission, or charging something on
your credit card without your permission. You may
not know you are a victim of identity theft until you are
contacted by a debt collector.
You can deter identity theft by being vigilant about
your personal and financial data.
► Secure your financial data under lock and key.
► Don’t carry anything in your wallet with your Social
Security number (don’t carry your SS card, remove
your SS number from checks, etc.).
► Destroy documents that contain personal/financial
information by shredding or other methods.
► Use secure passwords and change them often.
As well as being vigilant about your own information,
be vigilant about the information belonging to your
children and/or other family members.
If you discover that you are a victim of identity theft,
you should take immediate action.
► Freeze your credit reports by calling one of the
following companies: TransUnion, 1-800-6807289; Equifax, 1-800-525-6285; or Experian,
1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742).
► After you contact one of these companies, it will
contact the other two. Once you place the fraud
alert in your file, you are entitled to order one free
copy of your credit report from each of the three
consumer-reporting companies, and, if you ask,
only the last four digits of your Social Security
number will appear on your credit reports.
► Once you get your credit reports, review them
carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you
haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and
debts on your accounts that you can’t explain.
Check that all information is correct, including
your Social Security number, address(es), name
or initials, and employers. If you find fraudulent
or inaccurate information on these credit reports,
call the company issuing the report and ask how to
have the inaccurate information removed.
► When you correct your credit report, also call the
local police to report a crime. Make sure the local
police use an Identity Theft Report, which is a police
report with more than the usual amount of detail.
The Identity Theft Report includes enough detail
about the crime for the credit reporting companies
and the businesses involved to verify that you
are a victim — and to know which accounts and
inaccurate information came from identity theft.
► In addition to contacting the local police, report the
problem to Louisiana Attorney General James D.
(Buddy) Caldwell, P.O. Box 94005, Baton Rouge,
LA 70804-4095; phone 225-326-6000; Web site,
www.ag.state.la.us; Consumer Protection Section,
phone 225-326-6465.
► Continue to check your credit reports periodically,
especially for the first year after you discover the
identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent
activity has occurred.
How Do Criminals Steal
an Identity?
Skilled criminals steal identities in a number of ways
including:
► Searching through trash looking for bills, credit card
statements or other papers containing personal
information.
► Skimming which is stealing credit card information
using a special storage device while swiping your
card.
► Stealing purses/wallets for credit cards or stealing
mail for personal information.
►Phishing/pretexting which is pretending through
e-mail or telephone to be a company to which you
have provided personal information (such as a
bank, phone company or utility) and getting you to
reveal personal information.
► Diverting your credit card or bank statements to
them by filling out a change of address form.
How to Avoid Identity Theft?
When trying to avoid identity theft, remember the
3D’s: Deter, Detect and Defend.
Detect
The sooner you are able to detect identity theft, the
easier it is to limit the damage and resolve the situation.
The Web site, www.AnnualCreditReport.com, is the
ONLY authorized source to get your free annual credit
report under federal law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act
guarantees you access to a free credit report from each
of the three nationwide reporting agencies — Experian,
Equifax and TransUnion — every 12 months. The
Federal Trade Commission has received complaints
from consumers who thought they were ordering their
free annual credit report, but instead paid hidden fees or
agreed to unwanted services. Don’t be fooled by TV ads,
e-mail offers or online search results.
You can request your free report online, by phone or
by mail. Visit the Web site above or call 1-877-322-8228
for more information. No matter how you request your
report, you have the option to request all three reports
at once or to order one report at a time. By requesting
the reports one at a time rather than all at once, you can
monitor your credit more frequently throughout the year.
Because the information in your credit report is
used to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance,
employment and home rental, you should be sure the
information is accurate and up-to-date. Check your credit
report at least once a year to correct errors and detect
unauthorized activity.
Once you receive your credit report and notice accounts
you don’t recognize or information that is inaccurate,
contact the credit reporting agency and the information
provider. For more information, read the Federal Trade
Commission’s tips on how to dispute credit errors at www.
ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre21.pdf.
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