Common Ways ID Theft Happens
Rummaging through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information.
Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card during a regular transaction.
Pretending to be financial institutions or companies that send spam or pop-up messages so you will reveal your personal information.
Changing Your Address
Divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
Steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; new checks or tax information; personnal information from employers, or bribe employees to steal for them.
Safeguard Your Information
Shred financial documents and paperwork before discarding them.
Protect your Social Security Number. Don't carry your SSN card with you or write your SSN on a check. Provide your SSN only if absolutely necessary or ask to provide another identifier.
Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
Safeguard your military ID. Keep it with you or locked up at all times.
Never lend your credit cards or account information to anyone else.
Never click on links in unsolicited emails. Use security software to protect your computer and keep it up-to-date. Have junk emails forwarded to a junk email folder and disregard.
Don't use obvious passwords like birth dates, mother's maiden name, or last four of SSN.
Keep your personal information in a secure place, especially if you live in the barracks or with roommates.
Don't let mail pile up if you can't collect it regularly. Schedule a mail stop, use a P.O. Box, or have someone you trust hold your mail while you are away.
How to Detect Suspicious Activity
Inspect Your Credit Report
Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill-paying history.
Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, to order your free credit report each year.
You can also write:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Inspect Your Financial Statements
Review your financial accounts and read your billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make. Remember to log off of financial sites before ending your session when using a public computer.
Be Alert to Signs that Require Immediate Attention
- 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.
Defend Against ID Theft ASAP
Place a 90-day Fraud Alert on All Credit ReportsThis tells creditors to contact the account owner before opening any new accounts or making any changes to existing accounts. This action may cause delays when trying to obtain new credit.
The initial step is to contact any one of the three consumer reporting companies for information on how to obtain a copy of credit reports and/or place fraud alerts on accounts. The consumer reporting companies are:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-800-397-3742, www.experian.com
Transunion: 1-800-680-7289, www.transunion.com
The company called is required to contact the other two companies. Once the fraud alert is created, free copies of these reports will be made available. Sailors should review these reports for inquiries from companies they have not contacted or debts and accounts they did not open.
Close any accounts that have been tampered with or fraudulently established.
- Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your approval. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit website at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
- Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
Explain the Situation to Your Command
Be prepared in advance if a collection agency or creditor contacts your command about any fraudulent charges against you. Ask for a referral to the legal assistance office if necessary.
File a Police Report
File a report with military law enforcement and the local police (when in the United States.) These reports will help you with creditors that may want proof of the crime.
Active Duty Alerts
If you are deployed away from your usual duty station and do not expect to seek new credit while you are deployed, consider placing an "active duty alert" on your credit report. This alert requires creditors to take steps to verify your identity before granting credit in your name.
Active duty alerts are effective for one year, unless you ask for it to be removed earlier. If your deployment lasts longer than a year, you can place another alert on your report.
To place an active duty alert or have one removed, call the toll-free fraud number of one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.
The law allows you to use a personal representative to place or remove an alert.
DONCIO Privacy Program