Consumer complaints about identity theft are rising from across the country followed by debt collection complaints and impostor scams. This is a sure sign that people need to continue to pay attention and closely monitor their monthly credit card statements, credit reports and credit scores.
It is important that consumers are aware of their ability to take advantage of accessing one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Logging on to www.annualcreditreport.com will provide steps in acquiring your free credit reports. You can read more about how to access your free annual credit report by reading our previous blog post titled:
"Credit Reports - How to Get Your Annual Credit Report"
Below are four steps consumers should take if they become a victim of identity theft. Click on each tab to learn more about the topic.
Place a 'Fraud Alert' on your credit reports, and check your credit reports regularly through www.anualcreditreport.com. Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below or visit their websites. (Note: you only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert on all three.)
Transunion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com
Close any accounts that you 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. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of everything you send and a record of every conversation.
File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
By visiting https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ or by calling the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Hotline 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
File a Police Report
File a police report in the community where the identity theft took place. Call and ask them if you need to file the report in person or if you can do it over the phone or on the internet. When you file your report, bring or attach a copy of your FTC ID Theft Complaint form and any supporting documentation. Ask the officer to attach or incorporate the ID Theft Complaint into their police report. The FTC ID Theft Complaint, along with the police report, can constitute what is known as an ”Identity Theft Report.” 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.
While not everyone may be a news junkie, it is important to identify trends and understand news article/segments in a manner to protect ourselves and loved ones to the best of our ability.
SafeAmerica Credit Union’s blogs are provided to inform our members of all things financial. With that being said, the recent spike of identity theft related crimes brought on by the pandemic, has resulted in more and more articles, reports and news segments informing people of what can be done to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft.
The latest Bay Area identity theft trend making the rounds, shows scammers posing as Comcast representatives convincing users their internet speed has slowed down and maintenance is required to “troubleshoot” the problem. The criminal process used to perform the “troubleshooting” is done by obtaining remote access to the victim’s computer. They do this with the victim’s permission after successfully gaining the victim’s trust. While “troubleshooting”, the scammer accesses the victim’s personal information and before the victim notices, their bank accounts have been compromised.
The Alameda Police Department has shared the following tips via Patch.com:
Alameda Police Department Tips
- Be cautious of unsolicited calls and emails.
- Be wary of callers who demand immediate action.
- If you are uncertain of the call's validity, hang up and call the number listed on the company's verified website.
- Educate potentially vulnerable loved ones on how to protect themselves.
- Block unwanted calls and text messages.
- Register with the Do Not Call Registry. Registered numbers should only receive calls from companies you do business with or that you permit to contact you.
- Report fraudulent calls to the Do Not Call Registry. DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
- File a complaint with the FCC.
- If you are the victim of a crime, file a report with local police.
SafeAmerica understands the level of security needed to stay secure while on the internet and during National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we want to help inform our members of the best practices for staying safe online and keeping sensitive information secure. Keep an eye out every week this month for new blog posts on the best practices during the time you spend online. Safe for surfing the web.
Helpful links for Comcast Users:
Common Phone Scams and How to Protect Yourself
Comcast Resources for Fraud and Identity Theft Resolution