Could You Be Next?
Robo de Identidad: ¿Será usted el próximo?
Identity theft is one of the most common crimes to strike consumers. It is growing in frequency, and it is happening in new ways. The new forms of identity theft are often harder to spot and stop. Are you ready to defend yourself?
Find & Stop 5 New Kinds of Identity Theft
1.Tax Return Fraud & Identity Theft
Be careful when you choose a tax preparer. Scam tax return preparers may try to file false returns in your name, and may even try to have tax refund payments made to them instead of you. Keep these points in mind:
2. Debt Issues & Identity Theft
Debt collection scams are a major source of consumer complaints. Pay attention if you get a debt collection call, especially if it is about a debt that you do not owe. This could be a warning sign that identity theft has happened.
3. Mobile Devices & Identity Theft
Malware can infect mobile devices such as smartphones through spam emails or text messages, as well as through rogue websites. Scammers can then get access to your address book, your emails, and any personal identity information you may have stored on your device.
4. Social Media & Identity Theft
Social media users are accustomed to sharing personal information about themselves when they use services such as Facebook, sign up to play online games, fill out surveys, and so on. This could be one reason why social media users frequently report that they have been victimized by identity theft.
5. Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft happens when someone misuses your personal identity or health insurance information to get medical services. This can be very dangerous, especially if the thief’s medical records are confused with your own medical history.
How to Protect Yourself
Take the key steps that can help you prevent, find and resolve identity theft problems sooner.
1. Monitor Your Credit Report
Order and review your credit report on a regular basis. You can do this for free, once a year, through this website: www.annualcreditreport.com
By Phone: (877) 322-8228. By Mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105283, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5283.
2. Guard Personal Identity Information
Put it in a safe place. Don’t store it in locations that are not secure, or leave it lying around the house. Shred any sensitive documents that you do not need.
Social Security Number: We all know this is critical information to protect. And yet, scammers sometimes manage to get it from us anyway. If you believe that someone is misusing your Social Security Number for work purposes or other purposes, report it to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). See the Resources section of this document for information on how to contact these government agencies.
Individual Tax Identification Number: If you do not have a Social Security Number, you can get an individual tax ID number, or “ITIN” number free of charge.
3. Be Careful When Using the Internet
Digital technology is a good thing, but it has opened the door to many new kinds of identity theft.
How to Fight Identity Theft
1.Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports
Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies to place an alert.
Be sure to request and review your credit report right away. If you are an identity theft victim, you should be able to get the report without a charge.
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
2.File an Identity Theft Report with Local Police
This is a very important step. You may need to provide a copy of your identity theft police report, in order to dispute unauthorized charges or deal with other problems caused by identity theft. By filing a police report, you create an official record demonstrating that you are aware of the identity theft problem, and you show that you are taking steps to combat it. Keep your police report safe, once you get it; it is a vital document that you should save.
3.Get the FTC’s Guide to Stopping Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a comprehensive, step-by-step guide listing detailed instructions about how to fight many types of identity theft. It is called Taking Charge: What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen.
It also includes sample letters and forms to use with credit reporting agencies and other organizations, when you are dealing with an identity theft case, as well as contact information for resource agencies. This important reference document is available for free online in both Spanish and English:
4. Close Affected Accounts
Close all financial accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Be sure to alert financial account providers immediately when you suspect identity theft.
Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company.
Follow up in writing, and include copies (not originals) of supporting documents. It's important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.
When you open new accounts, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, dispute those transactions in writing.
5. File a Complaint with the FTC
This helps government authorities to catch identity thieves, to identify identity theft trends, and to help consumers deal with this crime. You can file a complaint with the FTC in several ways:
Call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. You can call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
Write the FTC: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. The FTC affidavit for a mailed-in identity theft complaint can be downloaded here:
- Spanish: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039sp.pdf
Get IRS Help with Tax-Related Identity Theft
If you are affected by tax-related identity theft, try these steps one at a time, in order. If you use one of these options and do not get enough help to address your identity theft problem, then try the next step.
1. Call the IRS Identity Theft Hotline. First, contact the IRS Identity Theft Hotline for guidance at 1-800-908-4490 (for Spanish, select option 2).
2. Visit an IRS office. If you are not able to obtain assistance over the phone, visit an IRS office. Explain that you are an identity theft victim and ask for help in your language. You can find an IRS office in your area through the IRS website at www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-Your-Local-IRS-Office-1.
3. Use online IRS resources.If you have access to a computer and the Internet, see IRS tips at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.
4. Call the IRS Taxpayer Advocate.If none of the above options resolve your issue, contact the Taxpayer Advocate office at 1-877-777-4778.
How to Choose a Tax Preparer
It’s important to be very careful when you are choosing someone to prepare your taxes. That person will have access to your personal identity information.
Help with Your Taxes
1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The VITA program provides free tax help to people who make $51,000 or less and who need help in preparing their own tax returns.
2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
The TCE Program offers free, priority tax help to people who are 60 years of age and older, and also provides tax assistance to others.
Through the TCE Program, you can get answers to questions about senior issues such as pensions and retirement matters. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide TCE tax counseling may often be retired individuals associated with nonprofit organizations supported by grants from the IRS.
For More VITA Information: Visit this page at the IRS website:
Assistance with Identity Theft
Better Business Bureau
Wherever you are in the United States or Canada, your local BBB can offer advice and take complaints about identity theft issues. Contact the BBB to report abuse by tax preparers or problems with identity theft. The BBB can also provide information about trustworthy sources of help in your area.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. It is a key source of information about identity theft. If you are an identity theft victim, be sure to file an identity theft complaint with the FTC so that your information can become part of the national effort to fight this crime.
FTC Identity Theft Hotline:
877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 866-653-4261
FTC Information on Identity Theft:
File an Identity Theft Complaint with FTC Online:
Get Form to File an Identity Theft Complaint with FTC by Mail:
Write the FTC:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580
FTC has published a comprehensive guide to solving identity theft problems, in both English and Spanish, entitled Taking Charge: What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen.
You can view and download this valuable publication online:
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) is the government’s tax collection agency, and the authoritative source of information about tax-related issues. IRS provides identity theft resources and tips by telephone and through its website.
IRS Identity Theft Hotline:
800-908-4490 (for Spanish, select option 2)
Find an IRS Office:
IRS Tips About Identity Protection:
IRS Taxpayer Advocate:
ITIN Application: www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
If your identity theft case relates to the Internet, you can report it easily to all governmental authorities with jurisdiction through the IC3 website.
Social Security Administration (SSA)
800-772-1213; TTY: 800-325-0778
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the national agency of government that administers the use of Social Security Numbers and Social Security program benefits. SSA provides information on its website about what to do if your Social Security Number is stolen or is used for identity theft. If you suspect someone is misusing your Social Security Number for work purposes, report it to the Social Security Administration.
SSA Information About Identity Theft:
Credit Reporting Agencies
Free Annual Credit Reports
Hearing Impaired: 877-730-4104
Write to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105283, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5283
You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report once per year. To get your report at no cost, go to the website or call the numbers shown above.
Credit Reporting Agencies
You may also be eligible for another free report if you are the victim of identity theft or other special circumstances. If you think identity theft has occurred, make sure to contact at least one of the three main credit rating agencies:
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111; www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800; www.transunion.com
Help with Legal Issues
Local bar associations and pro bono legal groups can help you find a qualified attorney who will fairly represent your interests.
www.LawHelp.org: Visit this website to see information about locating and qualifying for free or low cost legal services, in your state.
www.Findlegalhelp.org: This is the American Bar Association (ABA) website resource, which can link you to sources of qualified legal help in your state.
New York State
Better Business Bureau
www.newyork.bbb.org (Southern NY)
www.upstateny.bbb.org (Northern NY)
Your BBB in New York can offer advice, take complaints, and refer you to law enforcement organizations for more help. Check with the BBB before using the services of a tax preparer. Contact the BBB to report abuse by debt collectors, debt settlement/relief companies, or problems with identity theft. The BBB can also provide information about trustworthy sources of help in your area.
New York State Office of the Attorney General
Contact the Office of the Attorney General about identity theft or any other consumer abuse.
New York City
New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and
New York City Office of Financial Empowerment
3-1-1 or 212-NEW-YORK (outside NYC)
DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment offers free financial counseling to residents at centers throughout the city, including assistance in Spanish at some locations, where counselors may be available to walk you through reporting identity theft. For details, call 3-1-1 in the city.
Law Help maintains a website that offers legal information for persons who want to represent themselves (“pro se”) or who are trying to learn more about legal issues. They also provide links to other legal advice resources or places to look for volunteer lawyers who may be able to assist you at no cost.
Better Business Bureau
Your BBB in New Jersey can offer advice, take complaints, and refer you to law enforcement organizations for more help. Check with the BBB before using the services of a tax preparer. Contact the BBB to report abuse by debt collectors, debt settlement/relief companies, or problems with identity theft. The BBB can also provide information about trustworthy sources of help in your area.
New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
Contact Information in Spanish: www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/espanol/spbrief/dcaoff.pdf
The Division of Consumer Affairs takes complaints from consumers and directs them towards sources of aid. For information about your rights under New Jersey’s “Identity Theft Prevention Act”, go to this link:
Legal Services of New Jersey
Legal Services of New Jersey provides assistance to low-income defendants in civil court cases. They also have a hotline that provides free legal advice and referral. Contact their main number or the local Legal Services office in your county to get help if you need legal assistance with tax questions, wages garnishments, or other legal problems.
Better Business Bureau
Your BBB in Connecticut can offer advice, take complaints, and refer you to law enforcement organizations for more help. Check with the BBB before using the services of a tax preparer. Contact the BBB to report abuse by debt collectors, debt settlement/relief companies, or problems with identity theft. The BBB can also provide information about trustworthy sources of help in your area.
Connecticut Office of the Attorney General
The Attorney General’s office can help inform you of your rights as a consumer. Contact them for information and referrals to sources of help in your state.
Statewide Legal Services
1-800-453-3320; from Middletown and Hartford: 860-344-0380
SLS gives legal advice and referrals to people with low income. Call their hotline to learn more about dealing with legal issues and to see if you qualify for free legal representation. Their website also contains self-help information for those representing themselves in court (pro se):
Judicial Branch Court Service Centers
The Connecticut Judicial Branch provides Service Centers where you can learn about court procedures, get help filing forms, and find information. They cannot provide the same legal assistance that a lawyer would but can help those representing themselves (“pro se”) to navigate the legal system. They are located at the Superior Courts in each county. The courts also provide self-help information online: www.jud.ct.gov/selfhelp.htm.
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