If you discover your identity has been stolen, act immediately. Following the steps below may help minimize the impact and prevent additional issues from arising.
Notify all creditors with whom you have accounts, including banks and credit card companies.
Close all compromised accounts and dispute fraudulent transactions.
Open a new account(s) with new passwords and PIN numbers. If you had direct deposits or automatic payments set-up through the compromised accounts, remember to set them up through your new account(s).
Notify one of the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Request a Fraud Alert and request a copy of your Credit Report. Dispute any inaccurate Credit Report information. Also consider requesting a Credit Freeze.4
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by calling 877-438-4338. (Also notify the FTC if your social security number has been compromised.)
File either an Identity Theft Report or Miscellaneous Incident Report with your local police department. Include your FTC Complaint and supporting documentation. Request a copy of all reports filed; you may need the copy to dispute fraudulent accounts and/or debt created by the identity thief.
If a fraudulent account(s) was opened in your name, contact the creditor (bank, credit card company, etc.). Request written confirmation of all closed fraudulent accounts and/or fraudulent debts.
Notify your local Postal Inspection Service Office if you suspect mail theft or believe a false Change-of-Address Form was filed in your name.
Notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 800-908-4490.
Keep detailed written records of all the steps you've taken to restore your identity. Include business, creditor and government agency names, names of the representatives who helped you, a summary of the information exchanged and the date of each interaction. Detailed records may be needed to dispute fraudulent debts or file charges.
Managing Your Identity
Protecting Against Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes in your name. Identity thieves may go through your mail or trash to obtain your information, or attempt to access it through e-mail, text messages or phone conversations.
More than 11 million Americans had their identity stolen in 2011.1 Follow the guidelines below and help protect yourself, your good name and your good credit.
Sign up for Identity Theft Protection. An identity theft protection program monitors your credit reports, online debit/credit card number(s) and social security number. If suspicious activity is detected, you will be notified and will receive identity recovery assistance.
Monitor your mail. Call the sender (e.g., your utility company, your bank, etc.) if mail fails to arrive. A false Change-of-Address Form may have been filed to divert your information to another address. Use a secure mailbox for outgoing mail.
Review bills and bank statements. Check for fraudulent charges or suspicious activity. Report issues immediately. Consider receiving statements and bills electronically, setting up direct deposits and using online bill pay.
Shred Documents. Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy envelopes and documents.
Be on guard with phone solicitors. Never provide personal or financial information to callers you do not know.
Secure your computer(s). Whether a desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet or smartphone, your computer contains critical personal information.
Password-protect your device.
Install and update operating system, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. For smartphones, also install a "wiping" program to erase all data remotely if it is lost or stolen.
Use a personal firewall.
When using a wireless network, activate WPA encryption and any other security features available. Change your router's default password and SSID.
Beware of "smishing" - text messages containing links capable of downloading malware to your smartphone.
Do not leave your device unattended or your screen visible to others.
Close your browser when you're finished with a secure session.
Log off when you leave or step away.
Use Caution Online.
Only access personal and financial information from a computer you "trust."
Only do business with financial institutions and online merchants you know and trust. Watch out for copycat sites and confirm the e-mail address is correct.
When accessing financial information or ordering online, be sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with "https://" and the "closed padlock" () symbol.
Never reply to an e-mail or pop-up message that requests you provide or update your personal information.
Social media sites
Choose a challenging password.
Don't reveal your physical address, date of birth, school names or phone numbers.
Use privacy settings.
Secure your SSN, passwords and PINs. Don't keep passwords, PINs, or your Social Security card or number in your wallet or purse. When creating PINs and passwords, avoid using information easily linked to you.
Identity theft can interfere with your ability to get a loan or rent an apartment. It can even prevent you from getting a job. The longer it goes undetected, the more expensive and difficult it is to resolve.3
Help minimize your risk; make prevention part of your routine today.
1, 2, 3 2012 Identity Fraud Report: Consumers Taking Corntrol to Reduce their Risk of Fraud. Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2012.
4 Some states charge a fee for a Credit Freeze request. For details, please contact your state's Attorney General's office.
TD Bank websites contain hyperlinks to third party websites. TD Bank US Holding Company and its subsidiaries do not endorse, and are not responsible for, the content, recommendations, products or services available through third party websites. Third party websites may have different Privacy and Security policies than TD Bank US Holding Company. You should review the Privacy and Security policies of any third party website before you provide personal or confidential information.
This article is based on information available in August 2012. It is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific financial, investment, tax, legal, accounting, or other advice and should not be acted or relied upon without the advice of a professional advisor. A professional advisor will recommend action based on your personal circumstances and the most recent information available.