Protecting Against Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when a criminal uses key pieces of someone’s personal information such as a Social Security Number, driver’s license, credit card or bank account information to obtain credit or commit a crime in your name.
While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
What You Can Do
Due to the recently enacted The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), you are entitled to one free credit report each year from one of the three major credit bureaus. To order your free credit report visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com* or call any of the numbers listed below.
- Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Trans Union: 1-800-888-4213
Take some simple precautions to help protect yourself:
- Don’t give your personal information to a stranger who contacts you, especially by phone or via e-mail.
- Quickly remove your mail from your mailbox after delivery. Take any outgoing mail directly to the post office.
- Don’t carry unneeded identification and credit cards with you, such as your Social Security card. Keep them in a secure place such as a safe deposit box.
- Password protect your online and phone accounts.
- Destroy any receipts, statements, credit applications or other documentation.
If you think you have become a victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement agency and the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT.
The FTC and Washington State Attorney General post step-by-step directions on their websites for reporting identity theft and protecting your credit history.
Click here to download a pdf brochure put out by Federal Trade Commission regarding Identity Theft.