- Identity thieves use several methods to obtain personal information about their victims.
- If you or someone you know, is a victim of Identity Theft please contact the Federal Trade Commission.
- They can be reached via phone at: 1-877-ID THEFT, or via the web at: www.ftc.gov
How an Identity Thief Operates:
- They will go through mailboxes, trash, and landfills, searching for:
- bank statements
- utility bills
- credit card statements
- tax information
- new checks
- convenience checks for credit cards
- pre-approved credit card offers.
- They call the victim on the phone, and pose as a legitimate businessman to obtain more personal information.
- Once they have obtained enough of the victim´s identity, they complete a “change of address” form to divert the victim´s mail to a different location, usually a P.O. Box.
- A thief will go on spending sprees with the victim´s existing accounts to purchase items they can easily sell.
- They open new credit card accounts with the victim´s information, and have the bills sent to the P.O. Box.
- They start running up charges on the victim´s new account that the victim does not even know exists.
- They can open up a bank account in the victim´s name, and write delinquent checks.
- They can obtain a cell phone in the victim´s name, and never pay the bill.
- They can take out a loan in the victim´s name, take the money and default on the loan.
Tips that may reduce Identity Theft
- Buy a Shredder, and Shred, Shred, Shred
- Identity thieves will go through garbage to obtain personal information about you.
- Be sure to shred old bank statements, credit statements, credit card offers as well as junk-mail.
- Request a copy of your credit report
In Massachusetts, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year. You can request your free copy by contacting one of these three Credit Reporting Companies either by telephone, or on the web:
- Equifax- 1-800-685-1111
- www.equifax.comopens in a new window
- www.experian.comopens in a new window
- www.transunion.comopens in a new window
Guard your Social Security Number
- Your SSN is the key to your credit.
- Never print your SSN on your checks.
- In Massachusetts, you can request a license identification number to replace your SSN on your license.
- You can use your license number when writing or cashing checks.
Guard personal information over the phone
- Never give your credit card number or personal information out to anyone over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust that business.
- This includes requests for your mother´s maiden name.
Slim down your wallet
- Do not keep SSN cards, extra credit cards or other important identification documents in your wallet or purse, except when they are needed.
- If a thief obtains these, he has ready access to all of your accounts.
Make a copy of the contents of your wallet
- Copy both sides of everything contained in your wallet.
- In the event that your purse or wallet is stolen, you will be able to provide accurate account numbers to the proper authority.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the federal law enforcement branch of the U.S. Postal Service. It´s primary jurisdiction covers all matters that infringe on the integrity of the U.S. Mail.
Since most identity theft involves the U.S. Mail, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has become a lead agency in investigating incidents of identity theft.
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of identity theft that involves the U.S. Mail, report it to the Boston Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which is located at:
495 Summer Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02210-2214