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Identity Theft Steps

Identity Theft is nothing to be "played around" with 

One member was e-mailed by their bank that their credit had has "suspicious" activity against it.  The e-mail showed multiple $0.00 entries to PayPal then one to what appeared to be a foreign department store of several hundred dollars.  PayPal was possibly used to validate the information the "Bad Guys" had were accurate and still valid.  In contacting the bank, the agent referenced a prior conversation with the member that day ... only problem was there was no prior conversation.  It appears the "Bad Guys" knew enough to get past the phone screening security at the bank.  So how do the "Bad Guys" get enough information to fraudulently use a credit card and impersonate the true card holder and all within the combination of legitimate events that may have marked the card as active but no longer in use?  That question has yet to be answered.

ITEMS OFTEN ASKED FOR:
When calling your financial partner (bank, credit card/debit card company, etc.) be prepared to provide the following information:
  • Your full name
  • Your name as it appears on the card
  • Your full mailing address (ideally including your ZIP+4 code)
    This helps differentiate you from those who don't know or don't care
  • Your telephone number (that THEY have on record for you)
    Most companies will use caller-ID to validate at least the last 4 digits
  • Last charge you had that is not in question, the amount, date and to whom
  • Bank that you use to make your payments
Should there still be a question they may send you an e-mail containing a link to send them requested trusted photo documents, like your Driver's License (front and back) for validation of your true identity.   Some companies will accept a "code word" you can create for telephone conversations to further validate your identity.  Like creating a password, it should not be anything that can be associated to you, your family, property, cars, addresses, phone numbers, etc.  And a code word can often be more than one word so leverage that to create a more secure code word.

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS TO TAKE:
  1. From information received in February 2016:
    You can place a 90 day Credit Block on your account without cost by going on-line to Experian.com or calling them at 888 397-3742.  Experian is recommended to be your first contact as they will notify Equifax.com (800 685-1111) and TransUnion.com (800 916-8800) that triggers a Credit Block with them.  You should receive notice from each credit reporting agency.  The Credit Block is good for 90 days from the

    You will be entitled to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each agency.
    Obtain the report and save a copy to document your credit at that time.  You often can also get details of those looking into your credit and Credit Score.  This will prevent any new credit from being taken out in your name for 90 days.


  2. Contact all those you have credit cards, bank or savings accounts, securities or stocks, etc.  Inform them of the risk and see what additional steps are available to further protect you from the "Bad Guys".  Often additional security can be created within a few minutes on the telephone.  Make certain you understand and write down the process to remove the block, or make withdraws, etc. and for how long the new security will remain in effect.

  3. Remember that the "Bad Guys" like to move fast but they also have all the time in the world.  Know what automatic payments may be authorized against your credit cards and bank account and how to change your account numbers for payment and when payments are normally due.  This helps you to move with confidence to stop any incremental risk and change your accounts as your provider closed then opens a new account for you.  DO NOT keep this list on your computer or cell phone as both may be hacked or attacked by malware leaving you exposed again.

  4. Some additional sources which should have current information to help you:
    -  Federal Trade Commission on Identity Theft:
        
    https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft

    -  Federal Trade Commission on Steps to Take involving Identity Theft:
        https://www.identitytheft.gov/

  5. Tips to help prevent problems:
      - Close any credit cards or lines of credit you are not using.
         If you may need them later ask that a "freeze" be put using a password to
         prevent unauthorized use or access. 

      - Keep your credit card numbers and Social Security Number secure
         
    You do not need to carry a Social Security Card with you.  Keep it safely
         locked up at home.
         
      - Set High Transaction Alerts on your accounts ... all of them if you can.
         This service is often free and can notify you via text, phone call or e-mail
         for any transactions at or above a $10 minimum.  This afford you time to
         quickly dispute any charge.  Be aware purchases for gasoline, car rentals,
         and hotels will normally be for a higher amount to protect the seller with a
         preauthorized amount to cover additional charges that may be incurred.
         So don't freak out while you're pumping gas and see a $150.00 charge.
         You can call and verify the exact amount often within 60 seconds after
         you finish pumping gas.

    Money is hard to earn and harder to keep.  Don't let it be stolen from you!