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Identity theft

001d26_f0dbf1a0b31046d58b176d78ec61eecaIDENTITY THEFT PREVENTION
Over 500,000 Americans become victims of identity theft annually, costing them and financial institutions approximately $750 million. Once victimized, it could take months or even years to clear one's credit rating. Taking the following steps will help avoid identity theft, along with the aggravation and expense that follow.


Phone Books, Driver Licenses, Pre-Approved Credit Offers Credit Cards/Receipts, Birth Certificates, Credit Reports, Personal Checks, Social Security Numbers and other sources of personal information.

The West Deptford Police Department offers several tips for citizens to keep their identities safe:

  • Protect your mail. Use a locking mailbox. Deposit payments at the local post office or hand deliver them to a mail carrier.
  • Remove mail from your mailbox as soon after delivery as possible
  • Deposit outgoing mail in street mailboxes or at your local post office instead of your home
  • Never give personal information over the telephon
  • Shred any documents with personal information such as pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills and other financial information
  • Obtain a copy of your credit report at least once a year to check for unusual activity
  • Check your financial statements in a timely manner, and immediately report any charges you don't recognize to your financial institution. Be aware of when you regularly receive your statements. Contact the company if one is not received when expected
  • Never allow your credit card number to be recorded on a check
  • Carry only those credit cards that you actually need
  • Report all lost or stolen credit cards, checks or driver's licenses
  • Memorize your Social Security number, and never carry the card in your wallet
  • Beware of mail or telephone promotions offering instant prizes of awards. (If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Never keep an ATM card and the PIN (Personal Identification Number) together. Do not allow anyone to help you enter a PIN or conduct a transaction at an ATM
  • Protect your driver license and social security number. Notify the Division of Motor Vehicles and/or the Social Security Administration if either of these documents is lost or stolen.

  • Notify the three credit bureaus (listed below), and the police. Report the theft of your credit card number. Ask that you account be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report. (My ID has been used fraudulently to apply for credit cards. Contact me at "your number" to verify all applications.) Ask how long the fraud alert is posted on your account, and how you can extend it if necessary.
Contact the big 3 Credit Bureaus:

  • Equifax- Phone: (800) 525-6285. Address: PO Box 74024 Atlanta, GA 30374
  • Experian - Phone: (800) 301-7195. Address: PO Box 1017 Allen, TX 75013
  • Trans Union- Phone: (800) 680-7289. Address PO BOX 390 Springfield, PA 19064
  • Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center, 202-326-3761 (
  • National Fraud Information Center Website:

Identity Theft:

Contact all Creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently by phone AND in writing. Get replacement cards with new account numbers for your own accounts that have been used fraudulently. Ask that old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." (This is better than "card lost or stolen," because when this statement is reported to credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.) Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Report it immediately to credit grantors.

Keep detailed records, including dates, times, and names of previous persons notified, and the results of the conversations. Note any tracking or complaint number issued to your case. Follow up all company notifications with written correspondence. Keep copies of all correspondence. Check current accounts for a recent change of address request. Notify the Postal Inspector if you learn that an identity thief has filed a change of address form for your mail.

Stolen Checks:

If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the issuing bank immediately. Put "stop payments" on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account.

ATM Cards:

If your ATM or debit card has been stolen or compromised, report it immediately. Get a new card, account number, and password. Do not use your old password. When creating a password, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your social security number or your birth date.

Fraudulent Change of Address:

Notify the local postal inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud. Find out where the fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to talk with the mail carrier.

Social Security Number Misuse:

Call the social security administration to report fraudulent use of your social security number. As a last resort, you might want to try and change your number; the SSA will only change it, however, if you fit their fraud victim criteria. Also, order a copy of your earnings and benefits statement and check it for accuracy.

  • When faced with any theft situation remember, your goal is to avoid being injured! There is nothing in your purse worth serious injury or death.
  • Is it absolutely necessary to carry a purse at all times? A wallet or credit card in a pocket would be less tempting
  • Carry only the amount of cash or credit cards that you need
  • Eliminate spare keys from purse
  • Carry purse or shoulder bag in front of you and close to your body
  • Avoid having your purse shoulder straps around your neck or looped around your wris
  • Keep your purse on your lap when dining or at meetings
  • In the supermarket, do not leave your purse in the shopping cart. Remember: out-of-sight, out-of-mind, "out-of-purse"
  • Avoid displaying valuables such as jewelry or large sums of money
  • Zip or close purse securely to avoid purses pickpockets
  • Be aware of where you are and where you are going at all times. Do not go into a potentially dangerous area or situation
  • Report suspicious people or suspicious cars
  • As you drive home day or night, look for potential danger before entering your driveway. Walkways, doorways, and driveways should be well lit around your home
  • Do not enter your driveway if a suspicious vehicle has followed you. Go to the nearest safe location (a police department, gas station or an area where there are people) and call the police
  • If you are confronted in your driveway, remain in your locked car with the windows up and blow your horn. The distance from your car to your front door is a "No Man's Land."