When You Suspect Identity Theft

Following are BP Federal Credit Union procedures for identifying, responding and resolving red flags

Signs of Identity Theft

Members should be alert for signs of identity theft:

  • Watch your accounts, there may be accounts you didn't open and debts on your valid accounts that you can’t explain.
  • Examine your credit report(s), look for fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit reports, verify your personal information, such as your Social Security number, address(es), correct spelling of your name, and employers.
  • Failing to receive monthly bills or other regular mail. Follow-up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time. (A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address).
  • Receiving credit cards that you didn’t apply for.
  • Being denied credit, or being offered less favorable credit terms, like a high interest rate, for no apparent reason.
  • Getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you didn't buy.

When you discover that your identity was stolen:

Consumers may learn that their identity has been stolen after the fact; the damage has been done.

  • When bill collection agencies contact you for overdue debts you never incurred.
  • When you apply for a mortgage or car loan and learn that problems with your credit history are holding up the loan.
  • When you get something in the mail about an apartment you never rented, a house you never bought, or a job you never held.

Personal information that should be monitored regularly:

  • Your financial/billing statements. Monitor your financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking closely for charges you did not make.
  • Your credit reports. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. To find out, order a copy of your credit reports. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, get it removed.

Free Annual Credit Reports:

  • To order your free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call toll-free 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can print the form from ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually; they provide free annual credit reports only through www.annualcreditreport.com, 877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
  • Under federal law, you're also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action.
  • You're also entitled to one free report a year if you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; you're on welfare; or your report is inaccurate because of fraud.
  • To buy a copy of your report, contact:
    Equifax: 800-685-1111; www.equifax.com
    Experian: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742); www.experian.com
    TransUnion: 800-916-8800; www.transunion.com

Responding and Resolving Identity Theft

Respond and recover from identity theft when you suspect it

What to do if you’re a victim of Identity Theft:

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.
    Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report.

    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; PO Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

    Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

  2. Close accounts you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
    Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow-up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. It's important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.

    If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, request forms to dispute those transactions:

    • For charges and debits on existing accounts, ask the representative to send you the company's fraud dispute forms. If the company doesn't have special forms, send a letter to dispute the fraudulent charges or debits. In either case, write to the company at the address given for "billing inquiries," NOT the address for sending your payments.
    • For new unauthorized accounts, you can either file a dispute directly with the company or file a report with the police and provide a copy (called an “Identity Theft Report”) to the company.
    • If you want to file a dispute directly with the company, and do not want to file a report with the police, ask if the company accepts the FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit (PDF, 56 KB). If it does not, ask the representative to send you the company's fraud dispute forms.
    • However, filing a report with the police and then providing the company with an Identity Theft Report will give you greater protection. For example, if the company has already reported these unauthorized accounts or debts on your credit report, an Identity Theft Report will require them to stop reporting that fraudulent information. Use a letter to explain to the company the rights you have by using the Identity Theft Report.
    • Once you have resolved your identity theft dispute with the company, ask for a letter stating that the company has closed the disputed accounts and has discharged the fraudulent debts. This letter is your best proof if errors relating to this account reappear on your credit report or you are contacted again about the fraudulent debt.

  3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
    You can file a complaint with the FTC using the online complaint form; or call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.

    By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims' complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.

    An Identity Theft Report and entitle you to certain protections. This Identity Theft Report can be used to:
    (1) permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report;
    (2) ensure that debts do not reappear on your credit report;
    (3) prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft; and
    (4) place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.

  4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
    Call your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your identity theft. Ask them if you can file the report in person. If you cannot, ask if you can file a report over the Internet or telephone.

    When you go to your local police department to file your report, bring a printed copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint form, your cover letter, and your supporting documentation. The cover letter explains why a police report and an ID Theft Complaint are so important to victims.

Fraud Alert

There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, and an extended alert:

  • An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you're entitled to order one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.
  • An extended fraud alert stays on your credit report for seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you've been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Report. When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you're entitled to two free credit reports within twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then.

A fraud alert does not:

  • A fraud alert can help keep an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name, it’s not a solution to all types of identity theft.
  • It will not protect you from an identity thief using your existing credit cards or other accounts.
  • It also will not protect you from an identity thief opening new accounts in your name that do not require a credit check – such as a telephone, wireless, or bank account.
  • If there’s identity theft already going on when you place the fraud alert, the fraud alert alone won’t stop it.

Credit Freeze

In some states a consumer may “freeze” their credit – in other words, allowing a consumer restrict access to his or her credit report. Placing a credit freeze does not affect your credit score – nor does it keep you from getting your free annual credit report, or from buying your credit report or score.

Credit freeze laws vary from state to state. In some states, anyone can freeze their credit file, while in other states, only identity theft victims can. The cost of placing, temporarily lifting, and removing a credit freeze also varies. Many states make credit freezes free for identity theft victims, while other consumers pay a fee. It’s also important to know that these costs are for each of the credit reporting agencies.

Who can access my credit report if I place a credit freeze?

If you place a credit freeze, you will continue to have access to your free annual credit report. You’ll also be able to buy your credit report and credit score even after placing a credit freeze.

Companies that you do business with will still have access to your credit report – for example, your mortgage, credit card, or cell phone company – as would collection agencies that are working for one of those companies.

Companies will also still be able to offer you pre-screened credit. Those are the credit offers you receive in the mail that you have not applied for. Additionally, in some states, potential employers, insurance companies, landlords, and other non-creditors can still get access to your credit report with a credit freeze in place.

Can I temporarily lift my credit freeze if I need to let someone check my credit report?

If you want to apply for a loan or credit card, or otherwise need to give someone access to your credit report and that person is not covered by an exception to the credit freeze law, you would need to temporarily lift the credit freeze. You would do that by using a PIN that each credit reporting agency sends you when the credit freeze is placed. In most states, you’d have to pay a fee to lift the credit freeze.

What does a credit freeze not do?

  • A fraud alert can help keep an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name, it’s not a solution to all types of identity theft.
  • It will not protect you from an identity thief using your existing credit cards or other accounts.
  • It also will not protect you from an identity thief opening new accounts in your name that do not require a credit check – such as a telephone, wireless, or bank account.
  • If there’s identity theft already going on when you place the fraud alert, the fraud alert alone won’t stop it.

Identity Theft Report

An Identity Theft Report is a police report with more than the usual amount of detail. The Identity Theft Report includes enough detail about the crime for the credit reporting companies and the businesses involved to verify that you are a victim—and to know which accounts and inaccurate information came from identity theft.

The printed copy of your ID Theft Complaint Form can provide additional details for the police report. The police are not legally required to use the FTC’s ID Theft Complaint Form as part of their report. Your police department may have another way to incorporate the details of your crime. In these cases, the police report by itself may serve as an Identity Theft Report.

When you file your Identity Theft Report, the credit reporting companies will permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report. Filing an Identity Theft Report with the credit reporting companies or with the companies where the thief used your information should ensure that these debts do not reappear on your credit report. An Identity Theft Report can prevent a company from continuing to try to collect debts that result from identity theft, or sell those debts to others for collection. It also allows you to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.

The credit reporting companies may decline your Identity Theft Report if it does not contain enough detail for them to verify that you are a victim of identity theft. In that case, the credit reporting companies have certain time frames for responding to your Identity Theft Report with requests for additional information.

You are advised to keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence related to identity theft.

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