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Identity Theft Find Out About Authorization

Recommended actions if you've become a victim of phishing or other identity theft scam

If you have given out your credit or debit or ATM card information:

  • Report the incident to the card issuer as quickly as possible
  • Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies
  • Cancel your account and open a new one
  • Review your billing statements carefully after the loss
  • If the statements show any unauthorized charges, it's best to send a letter to the card issuer via regular mail (keep a copy for yourself) describing each questionable charge

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Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges

Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50 (many financial services companies have different policies so be sure to check with each of them). If the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use; in general, you may only be liable for a very small amount but always check with your individual card company for their exact policy.

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ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers

  • Your liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card depends on how quickly you report the loss.
  • You risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you.

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If you have given out your bank account information

  • Report the theft of this information to the bank as quickly as possible
  • Cancel your account and open a new one

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If you have downloaded a virus or 'Trojan Horse'

  • Some phishing attacks use viruses and/or 'Trojan Horses' to install programs called "key loggers" on your computer. These programs capture and send out any information that you type to the phisher, including credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, Social Security Numbers, etc.
  • If this happens, it's likely you may not be aware of it.
  • To minimize this risk, you should:
    • Install and/or update anti-virus and personal firewall software
    • Update all virus definitions and run a full scan
    • If your system appears to have been compromised, fix it and then change your password again, since you may well have transmitted the new one to the hacker
    • Check your other accounts! The fraudsters may have helped themselves to many different accounts: eBay account, PayPal, your email ISP, online bank accounts, online trading accounts, and other e-commerce accounts, and everything else for which you use online password

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If you have given out your personal identification information

  • Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. If you have given out this kind of information to a phisher, you should do the following:
    • Report the theft to the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion Corporation, and do the following:
      • Request that they place a fraud alert and a victim's statement in your file
      • Request a FREE copy of your credit report to check whether any accounts were opened without your consent
      • Request that the agencies remove inquiries and/or fraudulent accounts stemming from the theft

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Identity Theft Info

Equifax -
  • To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
  • To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write: 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.
Experian -
  • 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 TDD: 1-800-972-0322 '
Trans Union -
  • To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022
  • To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634 TDD: 1-877-553-7803

Notify your bank(s) and ask them to flag your account and contact you regarding any unusual activity:
  • If bank accounts were set up without your consent, close them
  • If your ATM card was stolen, get a new card, account number and PIN
  • Contact your local police department to file a criminal report
  • Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information
  • Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identity theft
  • Check to see whether an unauthorized license number has been issued in your name
  • Notify the passport office to watch out for anyone ordering a passport in your name. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Ask for a free copy of "ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen in Your Good Name," a guide that will help you guard against and recover from your theft.
  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3) by visiting their website:
  • The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership among the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance(BJA) with a mission to address fraud committed over the Internet
  • For victims of Internet fraud, IC3 provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation.
  • Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the incident. Follow-up your phone calls with letters. Keep copies of all correspondence.

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Identify Theft Resources