What you can do to protect yourself and your family from being victimized again.
Do not put your D.L. # or SSN# on your checks. This makes it easy to get a false ID made.
Do not carry your social security card or birth certificate copy in your wallet or purse.
Keep all credit card receipts safe. Many criminals use numbers off receipts to defraud.
Safeguard your PIN#s for all cards/accounts. Do not write them on or keep them with the cards.
Shred credit card offers you get in the mail. Thieves steal mail and trash to get these.
Don't give out any personal information over the phone.
If someone calls and asks for personal information or bank information, tell them you will call them back. Don't trust the phone number they give you, instead find the number to the company or bank yourself and call that number to verify. Check out the number AND the company.
If you get e-mails about winning the lottery or notifying you of a dead relative that left you millions in another Country, don't take their word for it. Check it out before you respond.
NEVER give your credit card number out to someone calling you - Make charges only when you call, or have verified the authenticity of the caller.
Do not put payments or checks in your mailbox for pickup. Mail them at a post office.
If possible, have all your monthly checks direct deposited to your bank rather than mailed to your home.
Think about paying online. It's safer, quicker, and you get a confirmation number showing you made a payment. If the website is compromised, the business is responsible, not you.
THE GOOD NEWS: You are NOT responsible for monetary losses. The banks and credit card companies must refund your money losses (if any), although they may hold your money while they are conducting an investigation in the case. Some can charge you up to $50 per account, but most do not.
Remember to CALL, CHECK, and ASK QUESTIONS.
Visit the Better Business Bureau web site at www.bbb.org
IF YOUR CHECKS OR CREDIT CARDS WERE TAKEN:
Notify your bank or credit card company if you have not already done so, and request that they close the account. Then call the three credit reporting bureaus to report the loss, and ask them to put a FRAUD ALERT on your account so NO NEW CREDIT will be issued without contacting you.
This is especially important if any form of identification was also stolen at the same time.
IF YOUR STOLEN CHECKS OR CARDS HAVE BEEN USED:
The subsequent use of any of the stolen checks or credit cards must be reported to the police by the merchant or bank where it was presented for payment. Contact the banks and/or businesses that accepted your checks or cards to notify them of the fraudulent use. Encourage the banks and businesses to pursue charges against any suspects identified.
Your bank or credit card company should have you sign an affidavit of check forgery or credit card fraud, and they should reverse all of the checks/charges relating to the fraudulent transactions.
IF NEW CHECKS OR CARDS HAVE BEEN MAILED TO A DIFFERENT ADDRESS:
Call the U.S. Postal Inspectors about mail being falsely forwarded, and notify the credit reporting bureaus.
U.S.P.S. Inspection Service 1-800-372-8347 www.framed.usps.com/postalinspectors
Local Postal Inspector (817) 317-3460
IF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD WAS TAKEN:
Call the Social Security Administration FRAUD HOTLINE to notify them of the loss and get information on how to get a duplicate card. Also, notify the credit reporting bureaus listed above. Request a copy of a credit report a month or two after the theft to make sure no fraudulent accounts are being opened.
S.S.A. Fraud Hotline www.ssa.gov
IF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE WAS TAKEN:
Apply for a duplicate driver’s license as soon as possible through your local DPS office, and ask them to put an "alarm" on your driver’s license as stolen to help prevent identity theft. Also, notify the credit reporting bureaus and request a credit report after one month.
IF SOMEONE HAS STOLEN YOUR IDENTITY TO GET NEW CREDIT:
Call the police department at the non-emergency number (817) 392-4222 and make an Identity Theft report. In Texas, Identity Theft becomes a crime only when any victim (person or business) suffers a monetary loss. Also, call the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline to notify them and get advice on how to proceed. Notify all three credit reporting bureaus to put a Fraud Alert on your data and immediately request a credit report. You must then advise the credit bureau and the institution making the entry of any specific fraudulent accounts appearing on that report. That institution should send you an affidavit of account/transaction fraud to sign and return to them. Make sure that the Institution who has made entry on the report provides a certified letter to you advising of the removal of the inquiry and or credit established without your knowledge.
FTC ID Theft Hotline 1-877-438-4338; http://consumer.gov/ncpw/everyone/identity-theft-and-privacy/
To remove your identity from the Internet - a deletion form is at www.lexis-nexis.com
OTHER PHONE RESOURCES FOR ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Federal Government Information Center (for agency phone numbers) 1-800-688-9889
ONLINE FRAUD (sweepstakes, lotteries, auctions, etc)
Make a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. They will send a report to the city where the victim lives and to the proper jurisdiction where the suspect lives. The appropriate authorities will then be able to investigate the incident.
Internet Crime Complaint Center www.ic3.gov
Link to Texas Attorney General's Identity Theft Website
Call our Forgery/Fraud Unit at (817) 392-4550 if you have further questions.