Sadly, anyone can become a victim of identity theft.
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.
The California Legislature has taken many measures to lessen the likelihood of identity theft, but ultimately the responsibility lies with you. To assist you in this process, please review the following information on how to minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim, tips for keeping your personal information secure, and how to repair the damage done in the event that you do experience identity theft.
If I can be of assistance to you on this or any other state matter, please do not hesitate to contact my District Office at (626) 960-4457.
Protect yourself from identity theft
- Keep your Social Security Number (SSN), passport and birth certificate in a safe place. Do not carry these documents unless necessary and only give out your SSN when you know it is required (tax forms, employment records, most banking, stock and property transactions).
- Read the fine print on applications and order forms. You may be given additional privacy protection or have it taken away in almost unreadable text.
- Do not send sensitive information (phone number, password, address, credit card number, SSN) by chat lines, email, forum postings, or in your online biography unless you know communications are encrypted.
- Shred all unwanted pre-approved credit card offers, and get your name off mailing lists for these offers by notifying the three primary credit bureaus.
- Order your credit report from the three credit bureaus every year to check for inaccuracies. Carefully review your credit card statements and phone bills for unauthorized and fraudulent use.
- Pick up new checks from the bank if you do not have a locked mailbox at your residence. Watchful predators can steal checks and other mail delivered to an unsecured mailbox.
- Mail all bill payments in drop boxes or at the post office to avoid mail theft.
- Be careful not to toss credit or bank card receipts in a public trash container.
- Ask your bank to add extra security protection to your account. Most will allow you to use an additional password to access your account.
- Tell businesses and organizations which have access to your personal information that you do not want it shared, sold or otherwise released.
If you are a victim:
- Report the crime to the police immediately and get a copy of the police report. These can be used to obtain and correct credit reports and other affected information.
- Close your credit card accounts and request they be processed as “account closed at the customer’s request” instead of “lost or stolen.” This will not reflect negatively on your credit report. Follow up with a written request.
- Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies and ask that all your accounts be flagged with a notice that you should be contacted to verify any new credit applications.
- Notify your bank of the theft and change all account numbers. Also, request that the bank assign you a secret password to be used in all future transactions.
- If your Social Security Number has become associated with bad credit, you may want to have your SSN changed.
- Keep a log of all contacts you make in the resolution of your theft.
For the most up to date information on what to do if you become a victim of ID theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission Website.
Report any credit fraud to THESE major credit bureaus:
To order report and to report fraud: 888-397-3742
To order report: 800-888-4213
To report fraud: 800-680-7289
Check Verification Companies
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline
California Attorney General’s Office
Toll Free: 800-952-5225
California Attorney General’s Office, Privacy Enforcement and Protection
To Order Free Credit Reports:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
Toll Free: 877-322-8228