Don't let Identity Theft destroy your credit and ruin your good name.
Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used, without your knowledge, to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time and money.
People, whose identities have been stolen, can spend months, even years - and thousands of dollars - cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, the victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, or cars, and even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit. Humiliation, anger, and frustration are among the feelings victims experience as they navigate the process of rescuing their identity.
There are things you can do to fight back against identity theft. You can start by safeguarding your information. You can also:
Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.
Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used, without your knowledge, to commit fraud or other crimes. You can deter identity theft by safeguarding your information. You should:
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
- Never give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti-spy ware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date. Visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov for more information.
- Never use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
Detect identity theft by looking for suspicious activity.
By routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements, you can detect suspicious activity. You should also be alert to signs that require immediate attention, including:
- 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
You should also inspect:
- Your credit report. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history.
- The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies-Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion-to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it.
- Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, a service created by these three companies, to order your free credit reports each year. You also can write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 10528, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
- Your financial statements. Review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for transactions you did not make.
Defend against identity theft right away, if you find suspicious activity.
If you find you are a victim of identity theft or account fraud, you should notify your bank(s) and credit card companies immediately. If you have accounts with Flushing Bank, you should call your local Flushing Bank branch or 1.800.581.2889 immediately. We will work with you in an effort to make appropriate corrections of any unauthorized transactions in your Flushing Bank account(s). We will also work with you to correct any incorrect reports submitted by Flushing Bank to credit bureaus, and will attempt to help protect you from any future identity theft or account fraud.
Additionally, you should also take the following steps as soon as possible. Be sure to keep a record with the details of your conversation and copies of all correspondence.
- 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:
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you have not contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain.
- Close accounts. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your fraud claim
- Ask for verification that disputed accounts have been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
- Online: www.ftc.gov/idtheft
- 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
Common ways Identity Theft happens.
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information, including:
- Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
- Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
- Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
- Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a "change of address" form.
- "Old-Fashioned" Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from their employers, or bribe employees who have access.
DETER. DETECT. DEFEND.
To learn more about identity theft and how to deter, detect, and defend against it, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Or request copies of ID theft resources by writing to:
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue., NW, H-130
Washington, DC 20580