One of the fastest growing crimes in the United States is identity theft. The FTC estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. This can be a frightening and devastating experience that can be expensive and can damage your good name.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, credit card number, or social security number, to commit fraud. The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud, though the thief may use your information to open a bank account, order phone or wireless service, obtain government services, or a host of other fraudulent activities.
This identity theft prevention and repair website provides you with detailed information to help you prevent the theft of your identity and outlines the action you should take to repair damage caused by identity theft. I urge you to scrutinize the information and share it with family and friends. It can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
My office will continue to work to safeguard Missourians from identity theft. If you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Identity theft is the crime of misusing someone's personal information to fraudulently set up bank accounts and credit facilities without that person's knowledge. Someone else pretends to be you to obtain credit, take out a loan, open an account, set up services or obtain identification.
Identity thieves can obtain your personal information in several ways:
The Attorney General’s Office has set up a hotline to help you recognize and report identity theft. Complaint investigators also will help advise victims of identity theft.
Identity Theft Complaint Form (file with Attorney General's Office)
Identity Theft Incident Report (file with local police)
Most people discover their identifying information has been stolen when they apply for credit, such as a loan or credit card, and get denied. Some discover charges on their credit card or debit card they don't remember making. Other red flags may be your credit card bills or other mail stops coming, you find something incorrect on your credit report, a debt collector calls about a debt you don't owe and didn't know about or you are wrongly accused of a crime.
There are several things you can do to prevent having your identity stolen:
You also can e-mail the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division if you have questions.
Each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies are required by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually; they provide free annual credit reports only through the following 3 methods:
To obtain a free copy of your report:
You are also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action.
You are also entitled to one free report a year if you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, you're on welfare, or your report is inaccurate because of fraud. Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for any other copies of your report.
To buy a copy of your report, contact:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
Follow these steps immediately if you discover you've been a victim of identity theft:
|FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
ID Theft Clearinghouse
Washington, DC 20580
|MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
P.O. Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102
|BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU
211 N. Broadway, Ste 2060
St Louis, MO 63102
See the Attorney General's recommendations and important contact information.
There are a variety of commercial services that, for a fee, will monitor your credit reports for activity and alert you to changes to your accounts. Prices and services vary widely. Many of the services only monitor one of the three major consumer reporting companies. If you're considering signing up for a service, make sure you understand what you're getting before you buy. Also check out the company with the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office to see if any complaints are on file.
This information was adapted from the Federal Trade Commission.