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ID theft

All about how it happens and how you can keep it from happening to you.

April 2012 - Posts

  • Identity theft FAQs

    Lots of people have lots of questions about identity theft. It's very likely you're one of them. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and our best answers.


    • I think I might be a victim of identity theft. What do I do? 


    It's a good idea to go ahead and place a fraud alert on your credit report. It will last 90 days. You only need to call one bureau; that one will alert the other two. Monitor your credit reports afterward for any unusual or unauthorized activity. Keep an eye on your bank account and credit card statements as well.


    • How do I find out if someone has opened new accounts in my name?


    Order a copy of your credit report, and review it carefully to see if there are any accounts you don't recognize. If you find any, contact the creditor, report the theft and close the accounts to minimize damage. 


    • Debt collectors are calling me about accounts I know nothing about. What do I do?


    Check your credit reports to verify the accounts exist, and call those creditors, as well as write them, and have the accounts closed. Be sure to request copies of the application and transaction records that were used on the account. To do so, you'll need a copy of a filed police report, so make sure you contact the police and keep copies of the report handy.


    • My Social Security number was stolen. Should I change my number?


    This is not a good idea, as your number is no doubt tied to many documents and reports and doing so would mean a great deal of wrestling with the Social Security Administration. 


    • I reviewed my credit report and found incorrect information. How can I change it?


    Contact the credit bureau in writing, detailing the error. That bureau then has 30 days to investigate the error and get back to you. If an error is found, it must be corrected. If the investigation does not resolve the issue, you have the right to write a 100-word statement regarding the error, which must be added to your file. 


    Posted Apr 24 2012, 12:04 PM by IdentityTheft with 1 comment(s)
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  • Google fined by FCC for Street View cars info collection

    Friday the 13th turned out to be unlucky for Google, as the Federal Communications Commission issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture against the company.


    The issue? Google's Street View cars, which wander collecting video for its site, also sucked up and saved payload data from unencrypted Wi-Fi communications. Payload data is data that goes beyond the headers of a network packet. Identified items include the network, the destination, some or all of the information like visited URLs, downloaded e-mails, text from uploaded documents and more. 


    Several countries have investigated Google for this invasion of privacy. France fined Google not for the data collection itself, but for the company's failure to deal with the French privacy office's request for action in a timely fashion.


    Australia called it the "single greatest breach in the history of privacy." The country's leaders agreed that Google had breached Aussie privacy law, but their laws do not provide for any action to be taken against the company.


    And until Friday the 13th, Google had gotten away with it in the U.S. The FCC's issue seems to be the company not responding to the Commission's investigation of the issue in a timely manner. In its fifth notice, the FCC fined Google for "apparent liability for forfeiture" in the amount of $25,000. 

    Posted Apr 17 2012, 11:46 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Many parents unaware of the threat of child identity theft

    Last year, more than 19,000 reports of child identity theft were registered with the Federal Trade Commission. Child identity theft occurs when a thief obtains the Social Security number, or some other personal information, of a child and uses it to obtain a loan, get a job, or obtain government benefits, among other things. 


    The really terrible thing about this crime is that it can go undetected for years – until the child grows up and applies for credit for the first time. But even though this crime is an ever-increasing problem, many parents are still unaware. Parents who are between the ages of 25 and 34, according to a recent survey, are generally familiar with the concept. Of those surveyed, 13 percent know someone who is the parent of a child identity theft victim, while 11 percent know a victim. 


    So what can you do if you suspect your child is a victim? Your first instinct might be to obtain your child's credit report, but you may run into some difficulty if you try to get it from annualcreditreport.com. The federally-mandated site is restricted by the Children's Online Protection Act, which protects children under the age of 13. If your child is at least 14, you can obtain a credit report from annualcreditreport.com.


    In order to obtain your child's credit report for your younger child, you will have to contact the three credit bureaus directly, because you need to provide proof of legal guardianship. If you do so and are told your child has no credit report, then it's a good thing; it means your child is safe. 


    But if your child has a credit report, his or her information has been compromised, and you must take action. You can place a credit freeze on the child's records, and you will need to work with law enforcement and listed creditors to correct the fraudulent activity.


    But your child may be a victim even without a credit report. Sometimes, a child's Social Security number is stolen and used, without it being reported to credit bureaus. This is most often done by undocumented workers, who are illegally in the United States, and who use the information to get work. 

     

    But it is important to note that the Federal Trade Commission recommends not getting your child's credit report unless you are sure there is foul play. The FTC recommends waiting until your child is 16, which will give you a couple of years until your child is of age to fix any problems you might find. 


    Posted Apr 10 2012, 12:23 PM by IdentityTheft with 1 comment(s)
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  • My kid's identity was stolen...now what?

    Picture this: Your son is ready to head off to college, and as part of the process, he is applying for student loans. Sounds pretty normal, huh?


    But what if your son is turned down because he has bad credit – and he's never applied for credit before?


    This may sound a little far-fetched, but it happens way more than you think. The Federal Trade Commission has pointed out that child identity theft is a huge problem that is growing every day, and parents are urged to do everything they can to protect their children. 


    But how does child identity theft happen? Most often, thieves get their hands on the child's Social Security number, and then use the number to obtain a credit card, get a mortgage, rent an apartment, get a cell phone or apply for a job. 


    The thing that makes child identity theft so frustrating for its victims is that the theft goes undetected for so long. It's often not discovered until the child has grown up and is applying for credit for the first time. By then, the criminal is long gone.


    How can you put a stopper in child identity theft and protect your child? First make sure you store your child's SSN in a safe, secure place. Only provide the number to others when it is absolutely necessary, and always ask if an alternate form of verification is acceptable.


    Keep an eye out for pre-approved credit card offers in the mail, in your child's name. If you receive them, your child's identity may have been compromised. You'll want to contact the credit bureaus and find out if your child has a credit report, and if so, get copies. 


    If a theft has occurred, report it to the police, and place a credit freeze on your child's credit file, so that you'll be notified immediately if there is any further attempted activity. You may even wish to consider signing up with a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service, just to be sure. 

    Posted Apr 05 2012, 12:21 PM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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