Hi Jim, You can ask for a victim's statement. You can also ask for a "fraud alert" - that's the one that makes it where they are supposed to call you first. I say supposed because there is no law forcing them to and it is not fail-safe.
We have been urging all to ask for a PIN or password to be added to all three credit reports. Therefore it can't be accessed at all by anyone but you. That seems to be a better alternative. If you happen to live in California they have passed a law making it mandatory for all three credit reporting agencies to make that feature available to Californians. We've been advising victims for quite some time now to ask for one no matter where they live. No one has contacted us and told us that the credit reporting agencies turned them down at all. I imagine all states will be passing the same legislation soon. (We sent them all letters and asked them to!)
As far as the 800 numbers for the three credit reporting agencies - they asked us to only post that on our website since so many of our people contact them. (We are helping 1500 victims per day now). The 800 number is the most efficient way for someone to ask for a credit report which is what most need it is only an automated line. That's why you could not reach a live person.
We have now put a credit reports button right on the home page to make it even easier. It will transfer you right over to their sites to order credit reports. If you need to speak with them however - you might call information in each of their states and get their direct line number. I'd ask for a PIN or password.
Also: If you'd like to see what Ms Steimel recommends for How to set your passwords - go to the ID Theft FAQs button in the left hand column. When you click on that - then scroll down to the question about passwords. Once you know about how to set PINs or passwords or better yet: youve gotten a secure card out of VAARetails security items section:
Lets talk locking down your credit. If you want to be as secure as possible credit wise to prevent ID Theft, take these steps:
- Get a PIN or password on all three credit reports, at the same time ask for a permanent fraud alert to be added. If you have been a victim of fraud or ID Theft also add a victims statement to each report.
-Get a PIN or password on every account that is listed in all three credit reports. (Do not buy a triple report from one agency it will not necessarily include everything that could be in all three companies reports combined.)
-Get a PIN or password on you insurance accounts, your bank accounts, investment accounts and on any other type account you may hold that does not show up on your credit reports. -Memorize PIN numbers or get a secure card from the security section of VAARetail. Do not ever write your passwords down especially on the actual credit card or taped to it.
-Opt out of pre-approved credit and insurance offers as allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. section 1681b(e). By calling 1-888-5OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688)consumers can prevent the 4 national bureaus from releasing their name on the prescreened lists used to create pre-approved offers. The consumer has the option to opt out for 2 years or for life. We at VAA recommend life and being done with it.
-Get you social security number off of everything unless it is something that is used for reporting to the IRS. Put your social security card in a bank lock box. Do not have it in your home in home break-ins a lot of times all the perpetrator is looking for is your important papers, account info and social security information.
-Use a cross-cut shredder, even for your junk mail. What is trash to you is treasure to an ID Thefter. Those pre-approved credit card mailings that everyone gets has enough info that a perpetrator just needs to change the address and send it in. Dont, when at the post office picking up your PO Box mail, stand there and sort through and throw out all of your junk mail in an open garbage can.
-Check with your bank, financial institution, stock brokerage company, medical doctor, insurance company, utility company, Phone Company, Cell Phone Company and all of your accounts. IF they do not shred all of their garbage move your account to another company.
-Also ask what measures they have taken to lock down their client data-base. Do not let them ask you for your social security number to identify you. Demand that they change their system or take your account elsewhere.
-If interviewing - do not give out your social security number. An employer should not collect that information about your unless you are hired and the company will need it for IRS reporting.
-Guard personal information. Do not carry your whole credit profile in your purse or wallet. If one credit card is all you are going to use only carry one. If you are not doing anything with your credit today dont carry any. Be aware of you surroundings. Watch that person whos staring over your shoulder as you pay your bill or thats eyeing your purse. Minimize the number of Identification documents that you ever carry anymore.
-Get a locking mailbox (See VAARetails Security Items Section). Dont put a flag up on your mailbox for ID Thefters to see that your checks in the mail. Take outgoing mail directly to the Post Office and drop it off inside.
-Remember your phone manners. Used to be that was to be nice. Now it means dont give any info at all to anyone who has called you. If you have made the call and you know who you are speaking to that may be alright. It is definitely not alright to give out any info at all to someone who just contacted you. No matter who they say they are that doesnt mean thats really who that is on the other end of the line. Rule of thumb: if someone contacts you and needs info tell them you will drive to the location and speak with them personally and hang up. Dont verify that you do or dont have an account with what you say. Or, pick up the phone and call them back. Never give out credit card or other identifying information over the phone unless you have initiated the call. Be sure you know the reputation of a company before you do business with them.
-Dont forget computer etiquette while youre at it. Never give credit information unless you are on a site that you are both familiar with the company and the site is a secure site. No exceptions. If you are not sure about the company: Contact the Better Business Bureau before giving an unknown company your business.
-Carefully review all of you bills as they come in. If something looks incorrect you may have a problem.
-Pull credit reports for the entire family at least once a year and be sure they are still clean.
-If something looks suspicious dont ignore it question it! Perpetrators work right next to us and we just dont pay any attention! Watch when you hand someone your credit card. They should only swipe it once. Dont let anyone take your credit card away from your line of vision when doing business with you. Be aware. Be cautious. Be credit safe.
-Make sure that your whole family is using the same system. It does you no good to take all of these precautions if your teen gets online and orders some music with your credit card at a web site that is not secure or your 10 year old answers the phone and verifies information that he knows to be true for the caller.
Its your family name! Lets keep it clean of criminal records and bad credit when it passes to the next generation. No one else will take care of it for you.