2003 Consumer Advisories
Yourself from "Identity Theft"
call it "identity theft" when someone obtains important
personal information -- such as your Social Security number or
your bank or credit card account numbers -- to commit fraud or
theft. An imposter might use your identity information to open
fraudulent credit card accounts, secure deposits on cars or housing,
create insurance benefits, or rob retirement earnings. It can
be very difficult to untangle such problems.
thieves might obtain crucial information by stealing from your
mailbox, sorting through trash for discarded receipts or statements,
or tricking you into disclosing your key personal information.
Here are tips for keeping your information private:
give your credit card number or other personal information
over the phone unless you initiate the call and know you
can trust the business.
- Shred or tear up
papers with your personal information, such as bill statements and mail
solicitations for credit cards. Always take your ATM and credit card
- Remove extra
information from your checks, such as Soc. Sec. no. (SSN), date of birth,
address, middle name. Checks can be lost or stolen, or information
- Memorize your social security
and PIN numbers and passwords. Don't carry extra credit cards, Social Security card,
birth certificate, or passport, unless essential.
- Choose an "assigned"
driver's license number from the DOT. (Don't use your SSN.)
reveal financial or unnecessary personal information on sweepstakes
entries, prize offers, warranty cards, subscriptions, city directories,
etc. Information often is sold and circulated -- increasing
your junk mail and the risk of Identity theft.
- Ask the national
credit reporting agencies NOT to give your name to solicitors. (Credit
reporting agencies sell lists to credit card marketers and others.)
To remove your name, call 888-567-8688 (888-5-OPT-OUT.) You may request
to be removed for two years, or you may request permanent removal.
- Examine your
account statements every month to prevent unauthorized charges.
contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division
for booklets on preventing
identity theft (including details and addresses for keeping
your information private) or on steps
to take if you've been a victim. Write to the Consumer
Protection Division, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, or call 515-281-5926.