Protecting Your Information

Tips to Protect Your Personal Identity

Protecting your personal information is an important step against preventing identity theft. Because this theft can happen without you knowing it, consider these tips to help protect your personal information.

 

Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit File

A no cost fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before they open any new accounts. To place a fraud alert, contact any one of the three major credit bureaus listed below. Once one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, they will notify the others.

Equifax
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA  30348
www.equifax.com
800-525-6285

Experian
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX  75013
www.experian.com
888-397-3742

TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA  19016
www.transunion.com
800-680-7289

 

Consider Placing a Security Freeze on Your Credit File

If you are concerned about becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft, you may request a “Security Freeze” be placed on your credit file, at no charge. A security freeze prohibits, with certain specific exceptions, the consumer reporting agencies from releasing your credit report, or any information from it, without your express authorization. You may place a security freeze on your credit report by contacting all three nationwide credit reporting companies.

Equifax Security Freeze
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
www.freeze.equifax.com
800-349-9960

Experian Security Freeze
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
http://experian.com/freeze
888-397-3742

TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
www.transunion.com/securityfreeze
888-909-8872

To place the security freeze, you will need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze, such as if you sign up for a credit monitoring service or submit a credit request.

Obtain a Free Credit Report

Under federal law, you are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the above three major nationwide credit reporting companies. Call 1-877-322-8228 or request your free credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com.  Once you receive your credit reports, review them for discrepancies. Identify any accounts you did not open or inquiries from creditors that you did not authorize. If you have questions or notice incorrect information, contact the credit reporting company.


Additional Resources

Even if you do not find any suspicious activity on your initial credit reports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you check your credit reports periodically. Checking your credit report periodically can help you spot problems and address them quickly.

If you find suspicious activity on your credit reports or have reason to believe your information is being misused, call your local law enforcement agency and file a police report. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report, as many creditors will want the information it contains to absolve you of the fraudulent debts. You may also file a complaint with the FTC by contacting them on the web at www.ftc.gov/idtheft, by phone at 877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338), or by mail at Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Your complaint will be added to the FTC’s Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, where it will be accessible to law enforcement for their investigations. In addition, you may obtain information from the FTC about fraud alerts and security freezes.

 

Informational Sources:

Annual Credit Report.com

Federal Trade Commission

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau