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Protect yourself from identity theft

If your identity has been stolen or misused

  • Reports. Make a police report at your local police department. Possible crimes include theft, mail theft, car prowling and identity theft. Contact the credit reporting agencies, your banks, creditors and the check guarantee-verification companies as soon as possible.
  • Other Action. Close all compromised accounts. Open new accounts with new numbers. "Flag" all other accounts. Obtain passwords for checking and savings accounts. Stop payment on any outstanding checks you are unsure of.
  • Keep detailed records of who you talk to, and when.
  • If a bill/statement is late, contact customer service immediately.
  • Review your credit reports regularly for additional unauthorized activity.
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    Other contacts -- places to find help

    • Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov
      Accepts complaints from ID theft victims: Identity Theft Hotline: (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338), or Identity Theft Clearinghouse, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.
      To request the booklet "ID Theft, When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name" call (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357), or mail a request to the FTC, Consumer Response Center at the above address.
      Find more ID theft information at www.consumer.gov/idtheft
    • Social Security Administration. If you believe your Social Security number has been used by a stranger: (800) 269-0271, or SSA Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235. Fax: 410-597-0118. E-mail: oig.hotline@ssa.gov.
      To order Earnings & Benefits Statement: (800) 772-1213 or www.ssa.gov.
    • U.S. Postal Service. If theft of U.S. Mail is involved, or if the identity thief filed a change of address with the post office, contact the U.S. Postal Inspector in your area.
    • Passports. If you have a passport, notify the passport office in writing that your identity has been stolen and to be on the alert for anyone ordering a new passport in your name.
    • Department of Motor Vehicles. If you suspect someone has obtained a false driver's license in your name or is using your driver's license number, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state.

    Credit reporting agencies. It is important to include your Social Security number and current address when writing to the three credit bureaus.

    • Equifax: Opt Out: (888) 567-8688, or P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123. Report fraud: (800) 525-6285. Order credit report: (800) 685-1111 or www.equifax.com.
    • Experian: Opt Out: (402) 458-5247, or Attn: Consumer Services, 901 West Bond, Lincoln, NE 68521. Report fraud: (888) 397-3742 or P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013. Order credit report: (888) 397-3742 or www.experian.com.
    • Trans Union: Opt Out: (888) 567-8688, or Trans Union LLC's Name Removal Option, P.O. Box 97328, Jackson, MS 39288-7328. Report fraud: (800) 680-7289 or Fraud Victim Assistance Dept., P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634. Order credit report: (800) 888-4213 or www.transunion.com.
    • ChexSystems: Collects bad-check reports from merchants. To review and dispute incorrect entries: (800) 428-9623, or Attn: Consumer Relations, 7805 Hudson Rd., Suite 100, Woodbury, MN 55125 or www.chexhelp.com.

    Clearinghouses and other publishers of personal information. Companies that buy personal information and sell it, unless you direct them not to:

    Source: King County Prosecutor's Office, Fraud Division, 900 Fourth Ave., Suite 1002, Seattle, WA 98164, (206) 296-9010

    Illustrations by Brandy Kesl

    -- Posted: Aug. 18, 2004
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