August 6th, 2010 | 2 Comments
What would you do if you lost your purse or wallet today?
THE VERY FIRST THING YOU MUST DO IS CONTACT YOUR
LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT AND FILE A THEFT REPORT.
The best protection that you can give yourself is to walk into a copy store and place the entire contents of your wallet down flat on a copier. After you make the copy, turn the cards over and copy the backs.
Now you know exactly what is missing, if anything is ever lost or stolen.
Now you have your account numbers and the customer service telephone numbers in the same place for your debit and credit cards. Note that most cards have a separate number, from customer service, to report lost or stolen cards. The faster you call to report them lost or stolen, the less liability you have in some cases.
You also have your identification number handy for faster replacement, too. This copy of this identification card is also necessary for filing fraud alerts, mentioned in detail below.
Don’t wait until you are a victim to figure this out.
Here are the names, addresses, and telephone numbers for the credit reporting agencies in the United States.
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
File a “Stolen Credit Alert” with each of them.
Include a copy of your driver’s license and 2 other forms of identification, like a utility or credit card bill.
Send the letters Over-Night Express Mail, with Receipt Confirmation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you send letters and not use the telephone numbers provided. You can read what legally you are responsible to do and repay here at the FTC website
Credit Fraud Alert Letter
I am a victim of lost or stolen credit information.
First name _____________________ M.I. ___ Last name ___________________
Street address ______________________________________________________
City__________________________ State_______ Zipcode____________
Your home? Do you? Own_______ rent______
Social security # _______________________
Date of birth ___/___/______
Drivers license number and state of issue____________________________________
Mothers maiden name or security password_________________________
If you have not lived at your current address for more than 2 years
Please enter your previous TWO addresses
City _________________ State _________ Zipcode __________
City _________________ State _________ Zipcode __________
Current employer (if self employed, DBA/company name)_________________________
City, State __________________________________ Zipcode ____________
I have had my credit stolen or lost and I would like a credit alert placed on my report.
Please do not extend or open new credit without contacting me first. Someone may be
using my credit to fraudulently to obtain goods and services without my consent.
Here are all my phone numbers and email addresses:
I know my legal rights, as per the Federal Trade Commission, pertaining to credit and debit cards with open credit accounts. I have called to freeze or alert these companies.
Signed _______________________________date ________
THE FTC SAYS:
What is a fraud alert?
There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, and an extended alert.
* An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you’ve been taken in by a “phishing” scam. When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you’re entitled to order one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.
* An extended alert stays on your credit report for seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Report. An automated Identity Theft Report, such as the printed ID Theft Complaint available from this Web site, should be sufficient to obtain an extended fraud alert. When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you’re entitled to two free credit reports within twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then.
To place either of these alerts on your credit report, or to have them removed, you will be required to provide appropriate proof of your identity: that may include your Social Security number, name, address and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting company.
When a business sees the alert on your credit report, they must verify your identity before issuing you credit. As part of this verification process, the business may try to contact you directly. This may cause some delays if you’re trying to obtain credit. To compensate for possible delays, you may wish to include a cell phone number, where you can be reached easily, in your alert. Remember to keep all contact information in your alert current.
FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
LOST SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS
The Social Security department does not place fraud alerts on your social security number. They specifically tell you to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. This puts your information into a federal database.
PLEASE reconsider carrying your social security cards in your purse or wallet. Keep them in a secure location and not on your person everyday. There is little reason to need them daily. The risk of identity theft is too great to worry about keeping them on your person at all times.
If your social security card is lost or stolen, file for a replacement card. (You can now change your address online, too!) LINK HERE
In addition to using their website http://www.socialsecurity.gov/howto.htm, you can call them toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
“We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day. (You can use our automated response system to tell us a new address or request a replacement Medicare card.) If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.”
Click here to search for a Social Security Offices by zip code
If you KNOW that someone is using your social security number, you can report the identity theft to the Social Security Administration via a hot line telephone number:
“Individuals have a variety of ways to report fraud to us. Individuals can contact us by:
Fraud Reporting Form
Social Security Fraud Hotline
P.O. Box 17768
Baltimore, Maryland 21235
1-800-269-0271 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
1-866-501-2101 for the deaf or hard of hearing.
The information you provide to us is very important and we encourage you to provide details about your complaint. To act on your allegation, we need you to provide as much identifying information as possible regarding the suspect, victim, and the details of what occurred. The more you can tell us, the better chance we have of determining whether a crime has been committed. Your information should include the following:
* Who committed the Fraud? (Include Suspect Name, SSN, Date of Birth, Address, and Telephone Number)
* Who the Victims are? (Include Victim Name, SSN, Date of Birth, Address, and
* What exactly did the suspect do?
* Where did the fraud take place?
* When did it happen?
* How was the Fraud committed?
* Do you know why the person committed the fraud?
* Who else has knowledge of the potential violation?”
CODE YOUR INFORMATION
I have a special phone book that I use for personal sources. I keep it separate from business sources, but from its outter appearance, you can’t tell the difference.
It has my credit card numbers, coded, with their addresses and telephone numbers. It has the websites, the login information and passwords.
Some ideas to code your information:
Choose a pattern. Major credit cards are 16 digits in length. The first four digits classify your card or identify it as Visa or Mastercard, as an example. Keep these first four numbers in the same order that they appear, so no one can figure out your code with these identity markers.
The code you choose is only for you to know. Whatever system you decide to use, be consistent with all of the numbers, so you don’t confuse yourself.
Pertaining to the last 12 digits:
You may wish to reverse the order of all the numbers. Example: 1234 5678 9XYZ becomes ZYX9 8765 4321
You may wish to reverse numbers in sets of two. Example: 1234 5678 9XYZ becomes 2143 6587 X9ZY
You may wish to reverse them in sets of four. Example: 1234 5678 9XYZ becomes 4321 8765 ZYX9
Whatever you choose to do, be consistent and don’t tell anyone the code. Don’t write the code into the book either. These codes are helpful if you were to lose the book. No one can easily have your numbers in the palm of their dirty hands. This is a good item for your safety deposit box or your fireproof safe. If you do not have either of these, place a copy in a freezer bag in your freezer. This is a safer fire prevention tip.
I even swap the numbers with the companies so the don’t match in the book. Be creative. Be safe. Be consistent.
The 3 digits on the back of the card that everyone seems to want now as verification that you have the card in your possession (these numbers would not be on a receipt) can also be coded. You can choose to write them down in any order. Just be consistent so you don’t confuse yourself.
Obtain a copy of your credit report every few months. The quickest way to solve a problem on your report is to KNOW that it exists.
I have used www.freecreditreport.com but I have not used their free service. To obtain the reports free from them, you must subscribe to a service that I don’t need and may forget to cancel. I order my three reports together, with their credit scores.
Everyone is entitled to a free copy of his or her report every year.
What is the FACT Act?
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) was signed into law in December 2003. The FACT Act, a revision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, allows consumers to get one free comprehensive disclosure of all of the information in their credit file from each of the three national credit reporting companies once every 12 months through a Central Source.
Is everyone eligible to get their free statutory annual credit file disclosure?
Yes. As of Dec. 1, 2005 all consumers are eligible to request their statutory annual credit file disclosure once every twelve months.
How can I request my free statutory annual credit file disclosure?
The FACT Act required that the national credit reporting companies establish a Central Source through which you will request the statutory free annual credit file disclosures. You may contact the Central Source by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com or calling 877 FACTACT. If you prefer to write, a request form is available on www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
How often can I get a free credit file disclosure?
The FACT Act entitles consumers to get one free statutory credit file disclosure from each of the three national credit reporting companies every twelve months.
Visit the credit reporting agencies online. They own your life so know what they know. Knowledge is power.
Just a last thought, here. My identity was stolen by someone I know. This person had a copy of my social security number in an application to join a MLM company, as their “downline”. They turned their phone back on, after it was disconnected for non-payment, with this information. It took many years to resolve this situation, after this friend decided to not pay this bill, too.
Its not good enough to say it won’t ever happen to you. It will. Be prepared and it will be less of a nightmare.
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