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Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?
Here are a few basic steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and pretext calling:

Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s personal identifying information. Often, identity thieves will use another person’s personal information, such as a social security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, write share drafts, open share accounts, or obtain new loans. They may obtain this information by:

  • Stealing wallets that contain personal identification information and credit cards.
  • Stealing credit union or other financial institution statements from the mail.
  • Diverting mail from its intended recipients by submitting a change of address form.
  • Rummaging through trash for personal data.
  • Stealing personal identification information from workplace records.
  • Intercepting or otherwise obtaining information transmitted electronically.

Pretext calling is a fraudulent means of obtaining a person’s personal information. Pretext callers may contact credit union employees, posing as members, to access members’ personal account information. Information obtained from pretext calling may be sold to debt collection services, attorneys, and private investigators to use in court proceedings. Identity thieves may also engage in pretext calling to obtain personal information to create fraudulent accounts.

  • Do not give personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing.
  • Store personal information in a safe place and tear up old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, old account statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Protect your PINs and other passwords. Avoid using easily available information such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, your phone number, etc.
  • Carry only the minimum amount of identifying information and number of credit cards that you need.
  • Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. Inquire of the credit union, if you do not receive a monthly bill. It may mean that the bill has been diverted by an identity thief.
  • Check account statements carefully to ensure all charges, share drafts, or withdrawals were authorized.
  • Guard your mail from theft. If you have the type of mailbox with a flag to signal that the box contains mail, do not leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag up. Instead, deposit them in a post office collection box or at the local post office. Promptly remove incoming mail.
  • Order copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year to ensure that they are accurate. The law requires each provide you with one free copy of your report annually upon request. Staggering requests among the reporting companies can help you view your credit over the year. To request your free credit report by phone call toll-free 877-322-8228 or online at
  • If you prefer not to receive pre-approved offers of credit, you can opt out of such offers by calling (888) 5 OPT OUT.
  • If you want to remove your name from many national direct mail, telephone lists, emails and sweepstakes online, contact DMA Consumer Assistance. There may be a fee for filing online. Or you may register at no charge by mailing a written request including your name, complete home address, telephone number and signature to:

    Mail Preference Service
    Direct Marketing Association
    Box 643
    Carmel, NY 10512

  • If you want to reduce the number of telephone solicitations from many national marketers, send your name, address, and telephone number to:

    Telephone Preference Service
    Direct Marketing Association
    PO Box 1559
    Carmel, NY 15012

    Online at National Do Not Call Registry

If You Become a Victim of Identity Theft
If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, you should:

  • Place a fraud alert in your file by calling one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file. The fraud alert puts creditors on notice that you have been the victim of fraud, and the victim’s statement asks them not to open additional accounts without first contacting you.

The following are the telephone numbers and contact information for the fraud departments of the three national credit bureaus:

Equifax -
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.

Experian -
To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write:
P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013

To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:
P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
TDD: 1-800-972-0322

Trans Union -
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write:
P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022

To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
TDD: 1-877-553-7803

  • You may request a free copy of your credit report. Credit bureaus must provide a free copy of your report, if you have reason to believe the report is inaccurate because of fraud and you submit a request in writing.
  • Review your report to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name, or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. Also, check the section of your report that lists “inquiries” and request that any inquiries from companies that opened the fraudulent accounts be removed.
  • Contact any credit union or other creditor including utilities where you have an account that you think may be the subject of identity theft. Advise them of the identity theft. Request that they restrict access to your account, change your account password, or close your account, if there is evidence that your account has been the target of criminal activity. If your credit union closes your account, ask them to issue you a new credit card, ATM card, debit card, or share drafts, as appropriate.
  • File a report with your local police department. Filing a report with your local police and keeping a copy yourself will make it easier to prove your case to creditors and merchants and may help you build a lawsuit if you have to sue to recover losses or clear your name later. In some states, you may have to report the incident in the jurisdiction where the fraud occurred, such as the location of the store where the thief charged merchandise to your account, even if that is not where you live.
  • File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigates interstate and internet fraud (877-ID-THEFT; TDD, 202-326-2502). Download a copy of an ID theft affidavit from the FTC’s website at to help you notify merchants, financial institutions and credit bureaus. For fraud involving stolen mail, also file a complaint with the postal officials at .

For more in-depth information on recovering from identity theft and help with specific problems, read Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

REMEMBER: FTC’s ID Theft site is your #1 source for guidance and assistance!