Identity Theft Can Happen To You

Dear Neighbor:

In recent years, savvy criminals have discovered that they can steal from unsuspecting victims without ever having to burglarize a home or break into a car. Identity theft, a crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data and uses it for illegal gain, has become one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. But the good news is that this crime can be prevented.

Last year, the Assembly passed a law to help prevent identity theft by keeping vital credit information from appearing on printed receipts (Ch.499 of 2003). While the law helps protect consumers, there is still more you can and should do.

Take a moment to look through the information in this pamphlet. It will help you protect your personal information and prevent identity theft, as well as stop further damage from occurring in the event that your information has gotten into the wrong hands.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns about this or any other issue, please do not hesitate to contact my district office at (718) 456-9492.

Catherine Nolan
Member of Assembly

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
helping consumers stay safe

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

The best way to prevent misuse of your personal information is to keep it from getting into the wrong hands in the first place. These guidelines will help protect you from becoming a victim.

Guard your Social Security Number

Your Social Security Number provides access to your credit report, bank accounts and other information targeted by identity theft criminals.

  • Do not carry your Social Security card with you, or print it on checks
  • Shred old payroll and bank information, as well as credit card offers before you throw them out

Protect your credit information

  • Contact the credit reporting bureaus and ask to have your information taken off their marketing lists (see list of credit bureaus on side panel)
  • Never give your credit card number or other information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust the business
  • Cancel unused credit cards and bank accounts
  • Be sure any Internet sites you use to make purchases or conduct personal business use secure servers
  • Resist the urge to click Internet pop-up ads and keep your antivirus software updated, as some ads and viruses can cause your computer to be searched for credit information

Deal immediately with identity theft

If you discover that your personal information has been stolen, act quickly to prevent criminals from inflicting damage. The Federal Trade Commission recommends you take the following three actions immediately.

Contact the credit bureaus

Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting bureaus (see side panel) and ask them to flag your file with a fraud alert and to notify your creditors.

Protect your accounts

Contact the security or fraud departments of your creditors or any accounts that may have been tampered with. Ask them to get permission in writing from you before approving any new activity on your accounts.

Call the police

File a report with the local police where you believe the theft to have taken place. Keep a copy of the report in case your creditors request proof of the crime.

Thanks to the recent passage of the U.S. Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, which became law last December, everyone is entitled to a free credit report once a year. New Yorkers may begin requesting reports on September 1, 2005. Take advantage of this offer and monitor your credit accounts for any unusual activity.

Useful Information

FTC fraud hotline
(877)FTC-HELP (382-4357)

Credit Bureaus:

Equifax, Inc.
P.O. Box 740123-0123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123

P.O. Box 97328
Jackson, MS 39288-7328

701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
61-08 Linden Street • Ridgewood, New York 11385 • (718) 456-9492
45-25 47th Street Woodside • New York 11377 • (718) 784-3194 •