What Is Identity Theft? Unlawfully obtaining, possessing, transferring, or using identifying information of another person without the other person’s consent, and with the intent to harm or defraud another
Where We See Identity Theft • Credit Cards • Convenience Checks • Debit Cards • Loans • Bank / Investment Accounts
Types of Information Compromised • Name • Address • Date of Birth • Driver’s License • Social Security Number • Mother’s Maiden Name • Accounts (bank, credit card, etc.)
Fraudulent Applications • Personal information of a true person used to open new accounts by • Mail • Fax • Telephone • Internet • Instant Credit - vehicle, loans, department store accounts • Add Additional cardholder to application/account
Account Takeover Obtain Personal Information of a True Person and their Credit Account Information • Change address on account • Send letter • Telephone • Fax • Usually immediately order card/checks • Receipt of card, fraud charges begin • Kiting account activity usually follows
False Change Of Address Filed The majority of false COA occur through Financial Institutions and not through the Post Office. Why? The U S Postal Service’s Move Validation Program
Where the mail is diverted/sent • Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) - Mailboxes Etc., Pak Mail, etc. • Pay friends, relatives, drug addicts, etc., to receive mail at their address • P.O. Box opened under fictitious name • Vacant house or apartment • Rent house or apartment in name of victim
Identity Theft - How It Happens Where does the information come from? • Trash dumpsters • Mail theft/Personal theft • Credit bureaus • Auto dealers • Hospitals/health care • Employment • Hotels/Travel/Restaurants • Internet
Identity Theft Schemes • Call victim and pose as bank who mailed credit card to obtain SSN and mother’s maiden name. • Credit report is run thru car dealership, rental agency, etc. to obtain SSN. • Contact insider at Social Security Administration to obtain mother’s maiden name.
Identity Theft Schemes • Theft of credit card statement from your mailbox. • Obtain bogus drivers license in name of victim. • Order credit reports by posing as cardholder to obtain other financial accounts and commit additional crimes against the victim.
Why Identity Theft is so dangerous Because all this happens without your knowledge: • most victims do not learn about the theft of their identity until 14 months after it has occurred • victims report an average of 175 hours actively trying to clear their names. • Source: Security Management Magazine, August 2000 edition
PREVENTIVE ACTIONS Protecting your personal information and financial accounts
Protect your mail: • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox • Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection mailboxes • Do not write account info on envelopes
Protect your mail: • Do not write personal financial information on postcards and product warranty cards. • Shred pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bills, cancelled checks, and other financial information • Shred, shred, shred….
Protect your financial accounts: • Empty your wallet/purse of extra credit cards and identification and never leave your purse or wallet unattended • Memorize Social Security Numbers and important passwords … DO NOT leave them in your wallet • Order your credit report from the 3 bureaus and review each year
Protect your financial accounts: • Save all credit card receipts to match against monthly bills • Be conscious of normal receipt times for financial statements • Sign all new credit cards immediately
Protect your financial accounts: • If an applied for credit card does not arrive quickly, call the issuing agency • Know your expiration dates • Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately • Notify credit card companies and financial agencies in advance of any change of address or phone number
Protect your financial accounts: • Purchase checks through institutions that use tamper resistant paper and ink • Do Not print your Social Security Number on your checks • Only write the last 4 digits of your credit card # in memo section of your check
Protect your financial accounts: • Reconcile your checking statement monthly. • Review your canceled checks for alterations when they are returned with your monthly statement. • Check your bank, credit card and other financial statements monthly for fraudulent activity. • Guard your check book.
Protect your financial accounts: • Use caution when giving personal information over the telephone or on the Internet. • Be careful to whom you provide your checking account information. • Beware of mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions offering instant prizes or awards
Credit Reports • Who to contact: Equifax PO BOX 105873 Atlanta, GA 30348-5873 Telephone # 1-800-997-2493 Experian Information Solutions (Formerly TRW) PO BOX 949 Allen, TX 75013-0949 Telephone # 1-800-397-3742 TransUnion PO BOX 390 Springfield, PA 19064-0390 Telephone # 1-800-916-8800
Action Steps for Victims • Notify all creditors, by phone and in writing • Call your local police and your nearest Postal Inspection Service office • Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the problem • Call each of the 3 credit bureaus’ fraud units to report identity theft • Initiate a Fraud Alert/Victim Impact report
Action Steps for Victims • Alert your bank to flag your accounts and to confirm any unusual activity • Request a PIN change and new password • Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline • Contact the state Dept. of Motor Vehicles to see if another license was issued in your name • If so, request a new license number and fill out a complaint with DMV
Bottom Line Identity Theft is becoming more common every day • It can cause great personal inconvenience and embarrassment • It can destroy your credit and impact your future • Protect your personal information!
Need More Info / File Theft - Fraud Complaint Contact the US Postal Inspection Service Baltimore 410-347-4380 Washington, DC 202-636-1330
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office • Glen Ivey, State’s Attorney • Isabel Cumming, Chief of Economic Crimes • 301-952-2708 • Any Questions . . .