In order to place the security freeze, you’ll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. After receiving your freeze request, each credit monitoring company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.
If your personal information has been used to file a false tax return, to open an account or to attempt to open an account in your name or to commit fraud or other crimes against you, you may file a police report in the City in which you currently reside.
Obtaining a Free Credit Report.
Under federal law, you are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the above three major nationwide credit reporting companies. Call 1-877-322-8228 or request your free credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com. Once you receive your credit reports, review them for discrepancies. Identify any accounts you did not open or inquiries from creditors that you did not authorize. Verify all information is correct. If you have questions or notice incorrect information, contact the credit reporting company.
Additional Helpful Resources.
Even if you do not find any suspicious activity on your initial credit reports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you check your credit reports periodically. Checking your credit report periodically can help you spot problems and address them quickly.
If you find suspicious activity on your credit reports or have reason to believe your information is being misused, call your local law enforcement agency and file a police report. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report, as many creditors will want the information it contains to absolve you of the fraudulent debts. You may also file a complaint with the FTC by contacting them on the web at www.ftc.gov/idtheft, by phone at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338), or by mail at Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Your complaint will be added to the FTC’s Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, where it will be accessible to law enforcement for their investigations. In addition, you may obtain information from the FTC about fraud alerts and security freezes.
Protecting Your Medical Information.
The following practices can help to protect you from medical identity theft.
- Only share your health insurance cards with your health care providers and other family members who are covered under your insurance plan or who help you with your medical care.
- Review your “explanation of benefits statement” which you receive from your health insurance company. Follow up with your insurance company or care provider for any items you do not recognize. If necessary, contact the care provider on the explanation of benefits statement and ask for copies of medical records from the date of the potential access (noted above) to current date.
- Ask your insurance company for a current year-to-date report of all services paid for you as a beneficiary. Follow up with your insurance company or the care provider for any items you do not recognize.
Iowa Residents: You may contact law enforcement or the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to report suspected incidents of identity Theft: Office of the Attorney General of Iowa, Consumer Protection Division, Hoover State Office Building, 1305 East Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50319, www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov, Telephone: 515-281-5164.
Maryland Residents: You may obtain information about avoiding identity theft from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office: Office of the Attorney General of Maryland, Consumer Protection Division, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202, www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer, Telephone: 888-743-0023.
Massachusetts Residents: Under Massachusetts law, you have the right to obtain a police report in regard to this incident. If you are the victim of identity theft, you also have the right to file a police report and obtain a copy of it.
New Mexico Residents: You have rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These include, among others, the right to know what is in your file; to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information; and to have consumer reporting agencies correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information. For more information about the FCRA, please visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0096-fair-credit-reporting-act.pdf or www.ftc.gov.
In Addition, New Mexico Consumers Have the Right to Obtain a Security Freeze or Submit a Declaration of Removal
As noted above, you may obtain a security freeze on your credit report to protect your privacy and ensure that credit is not granted in your name without your knowledge. You may submit a declaration of removal to remove information placed in your credit report as a result of being a victim of identity theft. You have a right to place a security freeze on your credit report or submit a declaration of removal pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting and Identity Security Act.
The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. When you place a security freeze on your credit report, you will be provided with a personal identification number, password, or similar device to use if you choose to remove the freeze on your credit report or to temporarily authorize the release of your credit report to a specific party or parties or for a specific period of time after the freeze is in place. To remove the freeze or to provide authorization for the temporary release of your credit report, you must contact the consumer reporting agency and provide all of the following:
- The unique personal identification number, password, or similar device provided by the consumer reporting agency;
- Proper identification to verify your identity; and
- Information regarding the third party or parties who are to receive the credit report or the period of time for which the credit report may be released to users of the credit report.
A consumer reporting agency that receives a request from a consumer to lift temporarily a freeze on a credit report shall comply with the request no later than three business days after receiving the request. As of September 1, 2008, a consumer reporting agency shall comply with the request within fifteen minutes of receiving the request by a secure electronic method or by telephone.
A security freeze does not apply in all circumstances, such as where you have an existing account relationship and a copy of your credit report is requested by your existing creditor or its agents for certain types of account review, collection, fraud control, or similar activities; for use in setting or adjusting an insurance rate or claim or insurance underwriting; for certain governmental purposes; and for purposes of prescreening as defined in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If you are actively seeking a new credit, loan, utility, telephone, or insurance account, you should understand that the procedures involved in lifting a security freeze may slow your own applications for credit. You should plan ahead and lift a freeze, either completely if you are shopping around or specifically for a certain creditor, with enough advance notice before you apply for new credit for the lifting to take effect. You should contact a consumer reporting agency and request it to lift the freeze at least three business days before applying. As of September 1, 2008, if you contact a consumer reporting agency by a secure electronic method or by telephone, the consumer reporting agency should lift the freeze within fifteen minutes. You have a right to bring a civil action against a consumer reporting agency that violates your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting and Identity Security Act.
To place a security freeze on your credit report, you must send a request to each of the three major consumer reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You may contact these agencies using the contact information provided above.
New York Residents: You may obtain information about preventing identity theft from the New York Attorney General’s Office: Office of the Attorney General, The Capitol, Albany, NY 12224-0341; https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds-bureau/identity-theft; Telephone: 800-771-7755.
North Carolina Residents: You may obtain information about preventing identity theft from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office: Office of the Attorney General of North Carolina, Consumer Protection Division, 9001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001, www.ncdoj.gov/, Telephone: 877-566-7226.
Oregon Residents: You may obtain information about preventing identity theft from the Oregon Attorney General’s Office: Oregon Department of Justice, 1162 Court Street NE, Salem, OR 97301-4096, www.doj.state.or.us/, Telephone: 877-877-9392
Washington D.C. Residents: You may obtain information about preventing identity theft from the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, 400 6th Street NW, Washington D.C. 20001, https://oag.dc.gov/consumer-protection, Telephone: 202-442-9828.