What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to commit fraud or other crimes. The thief takes your Social Security number, bank account number or other information and causes problems, like taking out loans in your name or charging money to your bank account or credit card.
- Check credit-card and bank statements monthly — watch for unauthorized charges or withdrawals
- Check your free credit report three times a year — watch for unrecognized entries.
- You get bills or collections calls for items that are not yours (such as credit-card purchases and loan payments).
- You get a surprising rejection from a creditor.
Follow the good habits below to prevent identity theft:
- Don’t give out your Social Security or account numbers unless you initiate the contact. Request users of your social security number to use an alternate ID number other than your SSN.
- Contact your local Circuit Clerk to remove personal identification from archived records such as military discharge records.
- Leave your Social Security number off checks and driver’s license.
- Shred trash with sensitive information. Include convenience checks and credit-card offers you get in the mail.
- Send sensitive mail using a Post Office drop box, rather than your mailbox at home. Don’t leave anything in the mailbox you wouldn’t want a criminal to use against you. Stop mail delivery or have a friend pick up your mail while you are away.
- Carry only the credit cards and documents you need you need on a daily basis. Don’t carry your Social Security card.
- Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers and get fewer solicitations at home: www.optoutprescreen.com or 888-567-8688.
- Use and update virus protection, a firewall and spyware detection on your computer.
Get a free credit three times a year at report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. Then check it to make sure the transactions are only yours. Three credit bureaus participate: Trans Union, Experian and Equifax. Choose which company’s report you want or get a copy from each one — the law allows you one free report per year from each company. Note: This is the only place a free credit report is available. Watch for misleading sites requiring a purchase of another product.
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has set up a hotline at (800)392-8222 to help you recognize and report identity theft. Complaint investigators also will help advise victims of identity theft.
|Internet Crime Complaint Center
|Missouri Attorney General
|Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline
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- Act quickly
- File an Identity Theft Complaint Form (PDF file 380K) with the Attorney General’s Office. You can fill out the form on your computer but remember to make a copy for yourself before closing it.
- Contact your bank or credit card company and report it: State and federal laws may protect you against unauthorized charges and withdrawals.
- File a report and keep a copy: Many banks and creditors will ask for it. Also, prosecutors can seek restitution from the thief.
- Close the accounts you know the thief has accessed. Use new account numbers and passwords.