Dont be Victimized by Credit Fraud
By Michael Norris
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 1999 If you have been the victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, the U.S. Secret Service recommends the following tips to assist you:
- Report the crime to the police immediately. Get a copy of your police report or case number. Credit card companies, your bank, and the insurance company may ask you to reference the report to verify the crime.
- Immediately contact your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers and ask that the old account be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" for credit record purposes. You should also follow-up this telephone conversation with a letter to the credit card company that summarizes your requests in writing.
- Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus. Report the theft of your credit cards and/or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report that requests that they contact you to verify future credit applications. The following is a list of addresses and numbers to the three credit bureaus:
Equifax Credit Information Services/ Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 105496
Atlanta, Ga., 30348-5496
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, Texas 75013-2104
Trans Union Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, Pa., 19064-0390
- Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities.
- As with any personal information, only provide your credit card number to merchants you know. Also, remember to protect your social security number. You have to give your social security number for employment and tax purposes, but there are few other reasons to disclose this information. Notify the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General if your social security number has been used fraudulently.
- The Federal Trade Commission is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the commission assists victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help them resolve the financial and other problems that can result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action. If you have been a victim of ID theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Consumer Response Center.
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20580
(877) 382-4357, or TDD (202) 326-2502
(Editor’s note: Michael Morris is a staff writer for the Pentagram newspaper at Fort Myer, Va.)