National Check Fraud Center

IDENTITY FRAUD

Steps to take if your are a victim

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SPECIAL REPORT

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Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing types of financial fraud. Without stealing your wallet, a crook can steal your financial identity with as little information as your social security number. Using a variety of methods,criminals steal credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, social security numbers, ATM cards, telephone calling cards and other key pieces of individuals' identities. They use this information to impersonate their victims, spending as much money as they can in as short a time as possible before moving on to someone else's name and account information

The crime of identity theft is on the rise. A 2003 study for the Federal Trade Commission determined that in the previous year, 3.2 million Americans' personal information had been stolen by thieves who opened new accounts or loans. On average, victims lost $1,180 and spent 60 hours resolving the problem.

If you become the victim of identity theft, it is important to act immediately to stop the thief's further use of your identity.

Have you had any of the following incidents happen to you?

Even though you may not have suffered any financial lost at this time, your GOOD name and your CREDIT is subject to being DESTROYED. The following guide provides victims of identity theft with the major resources to contact, If you have been a victim, you should follow each of the guide points listed below. Should you fail to resolve your problem yourself, then you should at once seek the assistance from legal counsel.

For Professional Assistance
The National Check Fraud Center has developed a unique service to aid victims of identity fraud. We have been able to not only reduce the time factor in resolving and restoring your check writing privileges and removal of negative remarks on your credit file which are the direct results of fraudulent misuse of your name and Social Security number, but have been able to reduce the cost factor involved.

OFFICE HOURS
8am to 6pm (Monday through Friday)
Eastern Standard Time

CLOSED SATURDAY & SUNDAY

For Details, Call
843-571-2143


Forty seven states have passed laws related to identity theft; many more are considering such legislation. Where specific identity theft laws do not exist, the practices may be prohibited under other laws. We suggest that you contact your State Attorney General's office or your local consumer protection agency to find out whether your state has laws related to identity theft.

View Individual State ID Theft Laws


SELF HELP
GUIDELINES
TO FOLLOW

  1. Report the crime to the police immediately. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Make sure you obtain a copy of your police report if the Police Department will take your report. Credit card companies, your bank, and the insurance company may require you to show the report in order to verify the crime. Some police departments have been known to refuse to write police reports on such crimes. Be persistent!
  2. If your checks are stolen, notify your bank(s) of the theft at once. It is recommended that you cancel (CLOSE) your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Ask the bank to issue you a secret password that must be used in every transaction. Put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of writing.
  3. To prove your innocence, you may be required to fill out fraud affidavits with banks and credit grantors where fraudulent accounts have been established in your name. There is no cost to file a fraud affidavit. In some cases, you might be asked to have affidavits notarized, which could become costly, however, it is a normal practice that banks and credit unions will not charge you for such service.
  4. Immediately call all your credit card issuers. If your credit card was stolen, get replacement cards with new account numbers. Ask that the old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." (This is better than "card lost or stolen," because when this statement is reported to the credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.) Follow-up in writing. This protects you in case of a dispute with the credit card issuer.
  5. Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies--Experian(formerly TRW), Equifax and Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report-THIS IS A MUST.
  6. STATEMENT EXAMPLE:

    ("My SOCIAL SECURITY CARD, ID, or DRIVER LICENSE has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at 555-123-4567 to verify all applications.")

    Be sure to ask how long the fraud alert is posted on your account, and how you can extend it if necessary.

  7. If you use an ATM card for banking services, get a new card, account number and password. Do not use your old password. When creating a password, avoid such commonly used numbers as the last four digits of your Social Security number and your birthrate.

  8. Do not record your password on any article or on your credit card. Keep it in a safe and secured place.

  9. If you have had your checks stolen, checks are being passed using your name, and or your personal account information, or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the following Companies:
    • National Check Fraud Center,
    • TeleCheck,
    • Certegy Check Services ,
    • Global Payments Check Services,
    • Shared Check Authorization Network (SCAN)

  10. The Secret Service has jurisdiction over financial fraud cases (18 USC 1029). This federal government agency usually does not investigate individual cases unless the dollar amount is high. The case must meet the current PROFILE.
  11. Normally the amount must exceed $65,000 to $75,000 per case, depending on your location. To interest the Secret Service in your case, ask someone in the fraud department of your credit card companies and/or banks to notify the particular SECRET SERVICE agent they work with.

  12. You may want to have your social security number changed if your number has become associated with bad checks and credit. Contact your local office of the Social Security Administration.
    Caution: This step should be reserved for only the most extreme situations. You must be sure to notify all credit grantors and credit reporting bureaus of your new social security number.
  13. Theft of the mail or using the mail to commit a crime is a felony.. Notify the Postal Inspector in your area if you suspect mail theft.
  14. Examples of Mail Fraud:

    • Your checks or your mail were stolen from your mail box,
    • A forged check sent to you through the mail,
    • You mailed a check to a individual or a company who obtained the funds fraudulently,
    • The US Mail Service was used to commit a criminal act.

  15. If you have a passport, notify the passport office to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently.
  16. Call your telephone, electrical, gas and water utilities. Alert them to the possibility that someone may attempt to open new service using your identification. Also contact your long distance company. You may need to cancel your long distance calling card if it has been stolen or if the account number has been accessed.
  17. If someone has been using yours Driver License as identification on bad checks, you are advised to change your driver's license number. When requesting a new number from the Department of Motor Vehicles, you might be asked to prove that you have been damaged by the theft of your driver's license. You must be able to prove that your current driver license is being used in the commission of a crime. You may need to be persistent.
  18. Contact the nearest office of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service for further advice on removing fraudulent claims from your credit report. Call 800-388-2227.
  19. In dealing with the legal authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, including dates and names. Send all correspondence by certified mail. Keep copies of all letters and documents. Provide your police report number to expedite reporting the crime. Always back up any phone calls with a letter.
  20. Even though it may be costly, consider seeking legal counsel, especially if you have difficulty clearing up your credit history, or your case is complex and involves a lot of money. An attorney can help you recover from the fraud and determine whether your rights under various credit, banking, social security number and other laws have been violated.

For Professional Assistance
Call
The National Check Fraud Center

843-571-2143


RESOURCES

Credit Reporting Bureaus:

When you receive your credit reports, review them carefully. Look especially for these indicators of possible fraudulent activity:

Facts about fraud alerts

Before you add a fraud alert to your credit report, you should be aware of these effects:

Equifax

Experian

Trans Union

Remember, if you have been denied credit, you are entitled to a free credit report. Effective October 1997, if you are a victim of identity fraud, you are entitled by Federal law to a free annual credit report.

Social Security Administration:

If your social security number has been used fraudulently, you can report the problem to the Social Security Administration at 800-269-0271. You may also order your Earnings and Benefits Statement by calling the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213. For extreme cases of identity theft, the Social Security Administration may be willing to change your social security number, but don't expect to have this done. Only extreme cases are considered.

To remove your name from mail and phone lists (Direct Marketing Association):

To report fraudulent use of your checks:

  1. National Check Fraud Center, 843-571-2143
  2. TeleCheck, 800-710-9898 / 800-927-0188
  3. Certegy Check Services , 800-337-5689 (NEW NUMBER)
  4. Global Payments Check Services, 866-850-9061
  5. Shared Check Authorization Network (SCAN), 800-262-7771
  6. Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline, 877-438-4338


IDENTITY ASSUMPTION:

Identity assumption in check fraud occurs when criminals learn information about a bank customer, such as name, address, bank account number, account balance, social security number, home and work telephone numbers, or employer, and use the information to misrepresent themselves as the valid bank customer.

These schemes may involve changing account information, creating fictitious transactions between unsuspecting parties, or preparing checks drawn on the valid account and that are presented using false identification.

This fraud is made easier when organizations, such as state departments of motor vehicles use social security numbers on identification. In such states, because those numbers are more available, banks must be especially careful.

EXAMPLES OF FRAUD:

Guard your trash. When you place your trash outside for pick up at night, thieves will canvas the area and will retrieve valuable documents from your trash. Items that have been known to be obtained are business letters, gas receipts, credit card receipts, outdated checks, old phone bills, old tax records, etc. Thieves are looking for any information that may have your full name, driver license number, your social security number, phone records, and your checking or savings account number.

Identity assumption schemes can be successful when a bank:

To protect against such frauds, banks should:

  1. Ensure that changes to accounts are secure, by requiring customers to request changes in writing or in some other way that guarantees the identity of the customer.

  2. Limit the size of cash transactions at temporary or remote locations to require individuals presenting large items to complete the transaction in a regular bank office.

  3. Send a postcard to all new accounts. This will verify if the address is good or not.

  4. Train personnel, including all tellers and all CSR's, to:

    1. Check identification carefully, particularly in split/deposit transactions,
    2. Require two forms of identification, and
    3. Record the identification information on the back of the item presented,
    4. Inspect checks carefully to ensure that they are not counterfeit

      • such checks are often printed on lower quality paper, which tends to feel slippery, or
      • are produced using desktop publishing equipment, which smudges when rubbed with a moist finger.

The above information can be used as a guide for those who want to attempt to correct the errors in their credit report and with victim merchants and check companies. We urge you to seek professional advice if you are in doubt. Either contact your local attorney or call our office at 843-571-2143 to discuss your problems.

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