Some common signs of identity theft are:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected
- Unexpected credit cards or account statements
- Denials of credit for no apparent reason (e.g., for credit you did
not apply for)
- Calls or letters about purchases you did not make
- Charges on your financial statements that you don't recognize
- Incorrect information on your credit reports - accounts or
addresses you don't recognize or information that is inaccurate
To help protect your identity; monitoring your credit report is the single best way to spot signs of identity theft, such as errors and suspicious activity and accounts or addresses you don't recognize. Everyone is eligible to request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus by going to https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. This is the only website to get a free copy. Also, to help monitor throughout the year, don’t request all three credit reports at the same time. A good practice would be to request from one credit bureau (Experian) then wait about four months to request from another one (TransUnion), then in another four months request from the last one (Equifax). This practice gives you a snapshot of your credit throughout the year.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft you should place an initial fraud alert on your file as soon as you suspect you might be a victim of identity theft. You can do this online at the three credit reporting companies:
Equifax - www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance
Experian - www.experian.com/fraud
TransUnion - www.transunion.com/fraud
Some other steps you can take:
- Contact the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or charged without your knowledge.
- Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit at https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to support your written statement. This website is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists (https://www.identitytheft.gov/Steps) and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process by creating a Personal Recovery Plan. You can also find information on reporting misuse of your social security number, replacing government issued IDs and much more.
- Ask for verification that the disputed account has been dealt with and the fraudulent debts discharged.
- File a report with law enforcement officials to help you correct your credit report and deal with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Report theft to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by submitting a complaint. Your complaint helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations. To find out more, visit the CFPB's website at www.consumerfinance.gov.
To find prevention tips and free resources on identity theft and protecting your identity go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft. For practical technology industry tips go to www.OnGuardOnline.gov. This site helps you to be on guard against phishing and Internet fraud, how to secure your computer, and how to protect your personal information. This is free information that can be shared with family, friends and your community. The more we know about protecting our identity, the harder we can make it for the bad guys!
Contact ECU Credit Union at 1-800-382-2400 or www.ecucreditunion.com for information about setting up a savings account for your children.