Avdex - theft protection devices for computer, office, laboratory and medical equipment
Deterring Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time and money. It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name.
Safeguard Your Information
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
- Protect your Social Security number. Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
- Do not give out personal information via phone, mail or internet to an unknown source.
- Never click unsolicited email links. Use up-to-date firewall, anti-spyware and anti-viral software to protect your home computer. Refer to OnGuardOnline for more information.
- Do not use an obvious password such as your birth date, your mother's maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having work done in your house.
Monitor Financial Accounts and Billing Statements for Suspicious Activity
Be alert for 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
Inspect your credit report. Credit reports contain account and billing history information. Major nationwide consumer reporting companies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are required by law to provide a free copy of your credit report each year. Visit Annual Credit Report or call (877) 322-8228 to order your free credit reports each year.
Inspect your financial statements. Review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.
Combat Identity Theft Promptly
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review them carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. Three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
- Equifax: (800) 525-6285
- Experian: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
- TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you have not contacted, accounts you did not open and debts on your accounts that you cannot explain.
Close accounts. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your consent. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
- Use the ID theft affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
- Verify that the disputed account has been closed and your fraudulent debts have been discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
File a police report. File a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
- online: ftc.gov/idtheft
- by phone: (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338) or teletypewriter: (866) 653-4261
- by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580
Recognize Common Identity Theft Methods
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information, including:
- dumpster diving - rummaging through trash looking for bills or other papers
- skimming - stealing credit or debit card numbers through a special storage device when processing your card
- phishing - impersonating financial institutions or companies with spam or pop-up messages
- changing your address - diverting billing statements to another location with a change-of-address form
- "old-fashioned" theft - theft of wallets or purses, mail (including bank and credit card statements), pre-approved credit offers, new checks, tax information, and personnel records stolen from employers or obtained from bribed coworkers