Friday, April 6, 2012

Identity Theft Notes from a recent speech

This past week my speech was from one of the advanced manuals; Speaking to Inform, the title was Reputation Management and Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft in the Online World. I thought it would be helpful to post my handout online as Identity Theft can happen to anyone, toastmasters included.

Tips on Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
§         When using online banking or any other sites (like always type in the address or use a bookmark in your browser. Never click on a link received in an email.
§         Don't use obvious or the same passwords
§         When ordering online, make sure the site has an SSL certicificate, it will appear as a lock in the URL on a PC and down in the corner on a MAC. If the lock has a slash through it is insecure.
§         Keep antivirus and anti spyware software active and up to date
§         Check your credit report yearly
§         Sign up for online banking and if you use credit cards, online pay, check often at least weekly

Signs you might have a problem.
§         Bills that do not arrive as expected
§         Unexpected credit cards or account statements
§         Denials of credit for no apparent reason
§         Calls or letters about purchases you did not make

The three major consumer reporting companies are required by law to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it. The companies are: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. is a central website, run by these three companies,

From the FTC website:
  • Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient: 
    • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
    • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't 
contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain.
  • Contract the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or charged without your okay.
o                        Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
o                        Use the ID Theft Affidavit at to support your written statement. 
o                        Ask for verification that the disputed account has been dealt with and the fraudulent debts discharged. 
o                        Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
  • File a police report. 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.
  • Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
    • Online: 
    • By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261
    • By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580

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