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What to do if you are a victim of Identity Theft
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your reports.
1. If you suspect your personal information has been used to commit fraud or theft, contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus and request that a "fraud alert" be placed on your file. At the same time, request a copy of your credit report. Follow up in writing and include copies (not originals) of your documentation, such as the police report or your credit card statement with circles around the items in question.
Web Site: www.equifax.com
Place a fraud alert: 1-888-836-6351
Order a credit report: 1-866-349-5191
Web Site: www.experian.com
Place a fraud alert: 1-888-397-3742
Order a credit report: 1-888-397-3742
Web Site: www.transunion.com
Place a fraud alert: 1-800-680-7289
Order a credit report: 1-800-888-4213
2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. It's important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, and request a return receipt so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.
3. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Ask for a copy of the report. Credit card companies may need proof of the crime to erase the debts caused by identity theft.
4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims' complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.
You can file a complaint online at IdentityTheft.gov, by phone at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261, or by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
The FTC's consumer Identity Theft website at IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government's one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.
A recent study estimates that identity theft will victimize more than ten million Americans this year! Don't let it happen to you. Unfortunately, phishing is now a well-established approach to ID theft. It occurs when a perpetrator posing as a legitimate financial organization uses email to retrieve personal and financial data.
Pharming occurs when an email purporting to be from a known organization carries a computer virus that infects a victim's computer in one of two ways. One sends the victim, who types in a legitimate domain name, to a bogus site. The other records keystroke information and transmits it to a criminal who then uses the data to access the account.
Some suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim of phishing or pharming:
This problem is not going away, nor is there any foolproof solution for it. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact us immediately.
Remember: we will never ask for your personal information in any email we send to you.
Don't use the same password for everything. Avoid using obvious words (like "password") or number sequences (like "123456789"). Also avoid family member, partner, pet, sports idol and team names. In fact, avoid using single words that can be found in the dictionary. Don't use your login or user name in your password. Although most consumers create passwords that are easy to remember, that makes it easy for hackers, as well.
Use a combination of letters in upper and lower case with numbers and symbols placed between the letters. Make your password at least eight characters. (A 15-character password is 33,000 times stronger that an 8-character password). Some internet security experts advise combining three or more random words with a number and special characters to create a password (such as ForkTigerUmbrella9302&!, for example) or use words from a song lyric (IleftmyheartinSanFranciscoin1979*&%$).
Never share your password with anyone, and never enter your password on a computer you do not control (public facilities). Change your password frequently (about every month or so).
Connect only to trusted websites that you know. Avoid downloading information from sites you do not know.
Be sure that when you are exchanging secure information online, you see the lock icon displayed at the bottom of your PC screen in the locked position, to indicate a secure session.
Install security updates to your system regularly.
Never leave your laptop unattended. Never place your laptop with checked baggage when traveling. Do not leave your laptop in your hotel room, car, conference room or restaurant. Don't use a computer bag to carry your laptop (it's like hanging out a sign to thieves). Keep your laptop's serial number in a separate, safe location in case you need to file a report with police. Always be aware of your surroundings when traveling: don't be a target for "snatch & run" criminals.
Thieves use a device that can capture the magnetic-stripe and keypad information when you input your PIN (Personal Identification Number) at ATMs, gas pumps, or retailers. Once they have your information, they can take cash from your bank account.
Signature-based debit card transactions offer you a higher level of security.
We recommend that you always say "credit" when asked by the merchant and sign for your purchases. Choosing the "credit" option does not mean that you are using a "credit card," it simply selects the processing method your transaction will use. The funds are automatically deducted from your checking account. Signature-based in-store, mail, phone and Internet transactions enjoy the added benefits of MasterCard's Zero Liability protection from unauthorized purchases.
If you require cash back (an amount over the purchase amount and available only at some merchants), you must say 'debit' and enter your PIN (Personal Identification Number) on a keypad.
The funds are still automatically deducted from your checking account. When you enter your PIN, shield the keypad so no one sees what you enter.
If you use your debit card at gas pumps (which are notorious for skimming) choose the screen prompt that identifies it as a credit card, so that you don't have to enter your PIN.
Use ATMs at banks. Thieves need to attach a skimming device to an ATM and then retrieve the device. It's much easier for them at a non-bank ATM.
Sign your card immediately upon receipt.
When using your card, always keep it in your sight.
Safeguard your account number and never keep you card and PIN in the same location.
Do not give your PIN to anyone. If you feel it may have been compromised, contact us immediately to have your PIN changed.
Always obtain merchant receipts and destroy carbon copies.
Monitor your bank statements regularly. If you suspect you are the victim of fraudulent charges, contact the bank immediately at 856-858-1100.
One of the best ways to keep fraudsters from using your personal information to commit identity theft is to register for your free annual credit report. You can request a free report on an annual basis from each of the three national consumer credit reporting agencies. Review the information carefully and report any issues that concern you to the reporting agency.
Get your free credit report at: AnnualCreditReport.com
FBI Alert Regarding Check Scams
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210 Lake Drive East, Suite 300
Cherry Hill - 856-885-2042
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