Consumer Protection Information: Identity Theft
April 3, 2012
What is "identity theft"?
Identity theft is the misappropriation of another person's identity for criminal purposes and can include the misappropriation of another's name, social security number, date of birth, driver's license, unique biometric data such as fingerprints, or unique electronic identification numbers such as an access code or personal identification number (PIN).
What should I do if I suspect misuse of my personal information?
Take action immediately and keep a record of all conversations and correspondence when you take the following suggested steps.
  1. Contact your financial institutions and credit card issuers immediately. Access to your accounts can be protected; stop payments may be issued on missing checks; personal identification numbers (PINs) and online banking passwords changed; and a new account may be opened, with new checks, if appropriate. ATM and debit cards can also be deactivated.
  2. Contact the major check verification companies. Call Telecheck, Equifax or International Check Services to request they notify retailers using their databases not to accept these stolen checks, or ask your bank to notify the check verification service with which it does business. (See below for the phone numbers.)
  3. File a police report. Obtain a police report number from your local police department with the date, time, location, and police officer taking the report. This report will be helpful when clarifying to creditors that you are a victim of identity theft.
  4. Request a copy of your credit report. Residents of Massachusetts may obtain a complimentary copy of their credit reports annually. Credit bureaus must also provide a free copy of your report if it is inaccurate because of fraud. Review your reports to be sure additional fraudulent accounts have not been opened in your name, or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. Notify any creditor in writing of fraudulent accounts. (The Fair Credit Billing Act requires written communication to resolve errors on credit billing statements, including charges that you have not made.) Send your letter by certified mail, and request a return receipt to document what the credit bureau received and when. Request a "fraud alert" for your file and a victim's statement asking creditors to call you before opening new accounts or changing your existing ones. In a few months, order new copies of your report to verify your corrections and changes. (See below for the phone numbers.)
  5. Check your mailbox. If a thief has stolen your mail they may have obtained credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers or tax information. Make sure no one has requested an unauthorized address change, title change, PIN change, or ordered new cards or checks to be sent to another address. If you suspect anyone has stolen your mail contact your local post office and police department immediately.
  6. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Response Center to report identity theft (See below for phone number and web site address.)
  7. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if you suspect your name or social security number is being used by a thief to get a driver's license. Consider asking the DMV to replace your SSN with a special driver's license number.
  8. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). Allegations that a SSN has been stolen or misused should be reported to the SSA Fraud Hotline. (See back panel for phone number and web site addresses.)
  9. Contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The USPIS is one of the federal law enforcement agencies investigating cases of identity theft. Call your local post office to locate the USPIS district office nearest you or visit their web site. (See below for web site address.)
  10. Contact your State Attorney General's office. Many states and local governments have passed laws related to identity theft; Massachusetts has such laws. For a list of State Attorney General offices visit
  11. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding the protection of your financial identity please don't hesitate to call Leader Bank.
Major Check Verification Companies:
Telecheck - (800) 710-9898
Equifax - (800) 437-5120
International Check Services - (800) 631-9656
Contact the credit bureaus below for a copy of your Credit Report:
(800) 525-6285 - to report fraud
(800) 685-1111 - to order credit report
(888) 397-3742 - to report fraud
(800) 685-1111 - to order credit report
Trans Union:
(800) 680-7289 - to report fraud
(800) 916-8800 - to order credit report
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Response Center:
By telephone
DD: (202) 326-2502
(800) 685-1111 - to order credit report
By mail
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
Social Security Administration (SSA):
By telephone
(800) 269-0271
By fax
(410) 597-0018
By mail
SSA Fraud Hotline
PO Box 17768
Baltimore, MD 21235
By e-mail
U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS):
State Attorney General's office:
In Massachusetts, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Complaint Information Section at: (617) 727-8400.
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