What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft if the obtaining of and use of another person’s personal information (such as name, date of birth, social security number and mother’s maiden name) for the purpose of committing fraud.
What Types of Fraud are Committed?
The most common types of fraud are credit card fraud, driver’s license fraud, loan fraud, apartment rental fraud, and the taking over of bank/investment accounts and removing assets.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Personal information can be compromised by stealing mail from mail boxes, stealing banking and/or credit information from the trash (called “dumpster diving”), unscrupulous merchants or bank personnel selling bank/credit account information, the use of skimmers (small handheld devices) to record credit card magnetic strip information, and computer hacking.
What are the Warning Signs?
Changes in communications from financial institutions may indicate that someone is fraudulently using your identity. Be aware of the following:
- If credit is denied to you for no apparent reason.
- If you receive bills from companies unknown to you.
- If your credit/bank statements suddenly stop coming.
- If collection agencies attempt to collect debts that do not belong to you.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Becoming a Victim
Using the following suggestions can help to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Carry only the credit cards and identification you immediately need.
- Send all of your mail from the post office or by dropping it in a postal collection box. A flag raised on a mailbox alerts thieves to your personal information.
- Shred or thoroughly tear all documents bearing personal information before disposing of them. This includes ATM receipts.
- Save all credit card receipts and compare them to your monthly statements each month.
- Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call and you are certain to whom you are speaking.
- Use caution in providing any personal or credit information over the internet. If you must, be sure the site uses encryption.
- Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure accuracy.
- Order your free annual credit report, by visiting annualcreditreport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228.
If You are a Victim of Identity Theft
- Immediately file a police report with your local police department.
- Immediately contact all 3 credit bureaus and have them a) put a FRAUD ALERT on your credit report and b) send you a copy of your credit report.
- Read your credit report thoroughly and contact each creditor that has opened a fraudulent account in your name. Have them close the account and remove it from your credit report.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the Identity Theft by visiting ftc.gov/idtheft or calling (877) 438-4338.
- Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) at (800) 269-0271 to report the theft/misuse of your social security number.
- Contact all of your financial institutions and instruct them to close all of your accounts; open new accounts with new account numbers, new passwords, and new PIN numbers.
- Contact the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission at (609) 292-6500 and check to see if another driver’s license has been taken out in your name.
- Contact the New Jersey State Police Records and Identification Bureau at (609) 882-2000 Ext. 2878 to obtain a copy of your criminal history.