Identity Theft

Recommended Actions

Here are suggested actions recommended by the Federal Trade Commission and Equifax that you should take immediately if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft. Keep a detailed record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence. Full details can be found on their websites at

Call the Police

Report the crime to the police or sheriff's department that has jurisdiction in your case and request a police report. Though the authorities are often unable to assist you, a police report may be necessary to help convince creditors that someone else has opened an account in your name. You also can check with your state Attorney General's office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number or check for a list of state Attorneys General.

Contact The Federal Trade Commission

You can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form; or call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write 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 does not resolve individual consumer problems itself, but your complaint may lead to law enforcement action.

Contact the three Credit Reporting Agencies. Have one of the agencies put a fraud alert on your file, which will aid in preventing new credit accounts from being opened without your express permission.

Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're 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.

Close Your Accounts That Have Been Tampered With

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, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.

Read More About Identity Theft and Credit Fraud

If you want to know more about identity theft and credit fraud, the following nonprofit Web sites are excellent sources of information and additional contact information.

US Government's Website for identity theft

FTC consumer complaint form

US Department of Justice

Social Security Administration/Office of the Inspector General Fraud Website

US Secret Service: What to do if you're a victim of identity theft

Online Security

Things To Remember:

  1. Create secure passwords. Keep them private. Change them regularly.
  2. The strongest passwords look like a random string of characters to attackers. Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
  3. Update your firewall, virus protection, and browser software regularly.
  4. Use e-mail software with built-in spam filtering. Keep filters current. Don't open e-mails or attachments if you don't know the sender. Limit sharing e-mail or instant message addresses.
  5. When doing your online banking and shopping only deal with known, reputable vendors. Before doing business, look for and verify the company’s physical address, not a Post Office box. Request a catalog by mail. Speak with a company representative over the phone.
  6. Don't fall for phishing, mishing, vishing, or other social engineering schemes.
  7. Back up all your valuable data and keep the backups under lock and key.
  8. Back up anything you cannot replace easily. The following are some storage devices and locations to consider. External hard drive, CD, DVD, USB flash drive, Online backup and storage service.
  9. Eradicate personal data from your computer before donating or disposing of it. Remember, manually deleted computer files, may still be recovered by an identity thief. To remove files, search for "file shredder" or "secure file deletion" to find a program that is compatible with your version of Windows and other software. Call the computer manufacturer's technical services department and ask how to delete personal files. A third option is to have reputable computer engineer safely overwrite your files from your hard drive.

Many easy to read safety and security articles can be found at

ATM Security

Things To Remember:

  1. If possible, avoid using ATMs during hours of darkness.  If you must do so, try to have another person accompany you.
  2. If an ATM facility must be used at night, try to select one in an area that is well lit.
  3. When possible, try to choose an ATM that is highly visible.
  4. Thoroughly observe the area around the ATM.
  5. Be cautious of anyone who engages you in conversation as you approach the ATM, while you are using it or immediately thereafter.
  6. Be suspicious of anyone who closely observes you while you are using the ATM:  Protect your PIN from view.
  7. Spend as little time at the ATM as possible.
  8. Don’t count or needlessly expose cash at the ATM.
  9. Don’t leave your receipt at the ATM.
  10. Don’t reveal your PIN to anyone in person or over the telephone for any reason, even if the individual represents him or herself as a bank employee.

Check Security

Things To Remember:

  1. Guard your checkbook and checks.
  2. Never give your account and routing numbers to people you do not know, especially to anyone over the telephone even if the individual  represents him or herself as a bank employee.
  3. Guard your deposit slips. Never use your deposit slip for “scrap” paper and then give it to someone.
  4. Properly store or dispose of canceled checks.
  5. If your checkbook is lost or stolen, immediately inform us.
  6. When traveling for a period of time, it is wise to leave your checkbook at home, locked away, and purchase a travel card or use your ATM/CheckCard.
  7. Write your checks using ink pens...never pencil.
  8. Write the payee name and the dollar amount in both numbers and letters, as far to the left in the allotted space and draw a line thru the unused space to the right of the letters and numbers to prevent additions.
  9. When writing the payee name on the “Pay to the Order of” line, make sure the name is spelled out so it cannot be altered.
  10. Promptly balance or reconcile your checkbook register with your monthly bank statements.