Here are a few basic steps you can take to avoid becoming
a victim of identity theft and pretext calling:
Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person’s
personal identifying information. Often, identity thieves
will use another person’s personal information, such
as a social security number, mother’s maiden name, date
of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new credit
card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, write
share drafts, open share accounts, or obtain new loans. They
may obtain this information by:
- Stealing wallets that contain personal identification
information and credit cards.
- Stealing credit union or other financial institution
statements from the mail.
- Diverting mail from its intended recipients by submitting
a change of address form.
- Rummaging through trash for personal data.
- Stealing personal identification information from workplace
- Intercepting or otherwise obtaining information transmitted
Pretext calling is a fraudulent means of obtaining a
person’s personal information. Pretext callers
may contact credit union employees, posing as members, to
access members’ personal account information. Information
obtained from pretext calling may be sold to debt collection
services, attorneys, and private investigators to use in court
proceedings. Identity thieves may also engage in pretext calling
to obtain personal information to create fraudulent accounts.
- Do not give personal information, such as account numbers
or social security numbers, over the telephone, through
the mail, or over the Internet, unless you initiated the
contact or know with whom you are dealing.
- Store personal information in a safe place and tear up
old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, old account statements,
and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Protect your PINs and other passwords. Avoid using easily
available information such as your mother’s maiden
name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social
security number, your phone number, etc.
- Carry only the minimum amount of identifying information
and number of credit cards that you need.
- Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. Inquire
of the credit union, if you do not receive a monthly bill.
It may mean that the bill has been diverted by an identity
- Check account statements carefully to ensure all charges,
share drafts, or withdrawals were authorized.
- Guard your mail from theft. If you have the type of mailbox
with a flag to signal that the box contains mail, do not
leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag
up. Instead, deposit them in a post office collection box
or at the local post office. Promptly remove incoming mail.
- Order copies of your credit report from each of the three
major credit bureaus once a year to ensure that they are
accurate. The law requires each provide you with one free
copy of your report annually upon request. Staggering requests
among the reporting companies can help you view your credit
over the year. To request your free credit report by phone
call toll-free 877-322-8228 or online at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- If you prefer not to receive pre-approved offers of credit,
you can opt out of such offers by calling (888) 5 OPT OUT.
- If you want to remove your name from many national direct
mail, telephone lists, emails and sweepstakes online, contact
Consumer Assistance. There may be a fee for filing
online. Or you may register at no charge by mailing a written
request including your name, complete home address, telephone
number and signature to:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
Carmel, NY 10512
- If you want to reduce the number of telephone solicitations
from many national marketers, send your name, address, and
telephone number to:
Telephone Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
PO Box 1559
Carmel, NY 15012
Online at National
Do Not Call Registry
If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, you
- Place a fraud alert in your file by calling one of the
three nationwide consumer reporting agencies. As soon as
that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the
other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your
file. The fraud alert puts creditors on notice that you
have been the victim of fraud, and the victim’s statement
asks them not to open additional accounts without first
The following are the telephone numbers and contact
information for the fraud departments of the three national
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator
to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request
a copy of your report.
To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN
(397-3742) or write:
P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013
To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN
(397-3742) and write:
P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213
P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022
To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton,
- You may request a free copy of your credit report. Credit
bureaus must provide a free copy of your report, if you
have reason to believe the report is inaccurate because
of fraud and you submit a request in writing.
- Review your report to make sure no additional fraudulent
accounts have been opened in your name, or unauthorized
changes made to your existing accounts. Also, check the
section of your report that lists “inquiries”
and request that any inquiries from companies that opened
the fraudulent accounts be removed.
- Contact any credit union or other creditor including utilities
where you have an account that you think may be the subject
of identity theft. Advise them of the identity theft. Request
that they restrict access to your account, change your account
password, or close your account, if there is evidence that
your account has been the target of criminal activity. If
your credit union closes your account, ask them to issue
you a new credit card, ATM card, debit card, or share drafts,
- File a report with your local police department.
Filing a report with your local police and
keeping a copy yourself will make it easier to prove your
case to creditors and merchants and may help you build a
lawsuit if you have to sue to recover losses or clear your
name later. In some states, you may have to report the incident
in the jurisdiction where the fraud occurred, such as the
location of the store where the thief charged merchandise
to your account, even if that is not where you live.
your complaint with the FTC. The
FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by
law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint
also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems
victims are having so that we can better assist you. The
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigates interstate and
internet fraud (877-ID-THEFT; TDD, 202-326-2502). Download
a copy of an ID theft affidavit from the FTC’s website
to help you notify merchants, financial institutions and
credit bureaus. For fraud involving stolen mail, also file
a complaint with the postal officials at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/ .
For more in-depth information on recovering from identity
theft and help with specific problems, read Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft
REMEMBER: FTC’s ID Theft site
is your #1 source for guidance and assistance!