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A Guide for Victims of Identity Theft
Fraudulent Change of Address, Mail Theft,
or Other Mail Involvement

Notify the U.S. Postal Inspector's Office for Iowa if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address with the post office or has used the mail to commit bank or credit fraud. Theft of mail is a felony. Find out where the fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to talk with the local mail carrier for that address as well.

U.S. Postal Inspectors
P.O. Box 566
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 515-253-9060

Secret Service Jurisdiction

The Secret Service investigates crimes dealing with credit card fraud, financial institution fraud, and crimes dealing with the false use of personal identifiers (such as name, date of birth, or Social Security number) relating to financial crimes. However, the Secret Service usually does not investigate individual cases unless the dollar amount is high or you are one of many victims of a fraud ring. If the actual crime (fraudulent application or charges) occurred outside of Iowa, the Secret Service may forward your case to the appropriate office.

U.S. Secret Service
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 515-284-4565

Social Security Number Misuse

To determine is someone is misusing your Social Security number for employment purposes, order a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) from the Social Security Administration to check for inaccuracies or fraud. To request a PEBES application call or write to the office listed below. Once you have determined that there are too many or too few earnings are recorded on your PEBES, or if your name is recorded incorrectly, call or write to:
Social Security Administration
Office of the Inspector General
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 800-772-1213
515-284-4345
website to download a PEBES application:
http://www.ssa.gov

If some is misusing your Social Security number, as a last resort, you may consider changing your number. The Social Security Administration will change your number only if you fit specific fraud victim criteria. For more information, call or write the office listed below and request the fact sheet, Social Security: When Someone Misuses Your Social Security Number, SSA Pub. No. 05-10064. Report the fraudulent use of your Social Security number to:
Social Security Administration
Office of the Inspector General
P.O. Box 17768
Baltimore, MD 21235
Phone: 800-772-1213
Phone: 800-269-0271 (OIG Fraud/Waste/Abuse Hotline)
e-mail: oig.hotline@ssa.gov

Income Tax Fraud

Any fraudulent use of another person's Social Security number, including dependents' Social Security numbers, to obtain an income tax refund should be reported to:
Internal Revenue Service
Criminal Investigation Division
P.O. Box 7909, Stop 9000
Shawnee Mission, KS 66207-7909
Phone: 800-829-0433

Passports

If you are the victim of identity theft and have a passport, notify the passport office, in writing, to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently.
U.S. Postal Service
Passport Acceptance Unit
1165 - 2nd Avenue, Room 228
Des Moines, IA 50318-9802
Phone: 515-283-7509

Utilities

If your cellular phone or long distance calling card has been stolen or if you discover fraudulent charges on your bills, cancel the accounts and open new ones. To avoid being "slammed," request that your local telephone service "freeze" your long distance carrier so it cannot be changed without specific authorization using a password. To avoid being "crammed," scrutinize every charge on your billing statements for fraudulent or unauthorized charges. Notify your gas, electric, water, and trash utilities that you are a victim of identity theft and alert them to the possibility that the thief may try to establish accounts using your personal information.

Driver's License Number Misuse

You may need to change your driver's license number if someone is using yours fraudulently. Call the Iowa Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Information Center and verify the last issuance date of your license. If there is a discrepancy and you have a non-commercial driver's license, go to your local driver's license station and apply for a duplicate license with an "assigned" number. Commercial drivers will be unable to use an "assigned" number, but should contact the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Office to file a fraud report. Send a letter, complete with supporting documents, requesting a fraud investigation to:
Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement
P.O. Box 10473
Des Moines, IA 50306-0473
Phone: 515-237-3221

False Civil and Criminal Judgments

Sometimes victims of identify theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by the imposter. If a civil judgment has been entered against you for actions taken by your imposter, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identify theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Ask how to clear your name.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
3737 Woodland Avenue
West Des Moines, IA 50266
Phone: 515-223-4278
If no answer call Omaha, NE
402-493-8688

Credit Report Fraud

If you find that there has been unauthorized access or use of your credit report, the Federal Trade Commission will be able to advise you of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Call or write to:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
Washington, DC 20580
Phone: 202-326-3761
Phone: 202-326-3128

Insurance Coverage

You may want to consult with your insurance agent to determine whether your losses may be covered by household or other insurance policies.

Legal Help

You may want to consult with a private attorney to determine legal action to take against creditor grantors and/or credit bureaus if they are not cooperative in removing fraudulent entries from your credit report or if negligence is a factor. An attorney can help you recover from the fraud and determine whether your rights under various credit, banking, Social Security, and other laws have been violated. The Iowa State Bar Association will provide you with the name of one attorney in your area that handles consumer protection issues. If you should decide to consult with the attorney to whom you were referred, this service ensures that you will not be charged more than $25.00 for the first half hour consultation. Call or write to:
Iowa State Bar Association
Lawyer Referral Service
521 E. Locust Street, 3rd Floor
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: 800-532-1108

Making Changes

New laws regarding right to privacy issues and fraud victim assistance programs are currently being drafted and proposed at the federal and state levels of government. If you are disappointed with the privacy protection and fraud assistance available under current laws, consider writing your federal and state legislators concerning your experience.

Don't Give In

Remember, you are not responsible for any bill, portion of a bill, or checks written or cashed which result from identity theft. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected, and no legal action should be taken against you. If any merchant, financial institution or collection agency suggests otherwise, simply restate your willingness to cooperate, but don't allow yourself to be coerced into paying a fraudulent debt. Many victims of identity theft report feeling angry, frustrated, powerless, and even violated. If these feelings persist or become overwhelming, talk to your friends, family members, or a counselor.

If you have any further questions or concerns,
or if you would like additional information, please contact:

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
Consumer Protection Division
1300 East Walnut
Hoover State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319
515-281-5926

This publication originates from the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), 11965 Venice Blvd., Ste. 408, Los Angeles, CA 90066, Phone: 310-397-3404; web site: www.pirg.org/calpirg, and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, 5384 Linda Vista Rd., Ste. 306, San Diego, CA 92110, Phone: 619-298-3396, e-mail: www.privacyrights.org. With their consent, it has been adapted for Iowa consumers, edited and distributed by the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of Attorney General Tom Miller, Iowa Department of Justice. March 1998

COPYRIGHT 2000 THE STATE OF IOWA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.