Your identity belongs to you. Here are some suggestions from First West to help you protect it.
One smart and effective way to protect yourself against identity theft is to prevent it. If your identity is stolen, you'll be able to lessen problems by acting quickly, whether you live in California or elsewhere.
Start with Good Habits
- Print out a copy of this page and store it in a convenient place
- Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place
- Shred papers with personal information
- Reduce your credit card accounts, and only carry the cards you need
- Write checks with a permanent pen, and mail from a secure place
- Photocopy both sides of your credit cards and store safely
Watch Your Accounts Closely
- Review balances and transactions often by phone or online
- Make sure every transaction on your credit card statements is accurate
- Take advantage of free credit reports and watch for unusual activity
- Sign up with Experian, Transunion, and Equifax and stagger your requests to get a free credit report every four months or sign up for credit watch services which will report directly to you for a fee
Fill Out the FTC Affidavit Quickly
- The FTC Theft Affidavit supplies proof that you didn't authorize any accounts opened or debts run up by the identity thief
- New accounts need this FTC affidavit form to investigate the fraud and process your claim
- Call your existing accounts for instructions on disputing unauthorized charges as other forms may be needed
- Keep originals of the affidavit, as well as all supporting materials such as driver's license or police report. Send copies only.
- Send quickly - many creditors request that you send the affidavit within two weeks
Keep This Information Handy:
Federal Trade Commission:
Social Security Administration
Fraud Line: 1-800-269-0271
Credit Reporting Agencies
Identity Theft Plan of Action
- Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
- Call and report to the police. Make several copies of the police report.
- Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (see contact information above to request these forms).
- Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver's License number and Social Security Number, and freeze your account.
- Call fraud units of credit report agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
Take the time to educate yourself on identity theft, and please don't hesitate to seek the help of professionals when needed. For more information, contact us today.