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Identity Theft

Have you ever wished you were someone else? Or that someone else would just be you for today – take that physics test or go to work for you?

Unfortunately, there are people who want to take over parts of your life, but you won't enjoy the experience. Identity thieves steal your personal information and use it to buy things in your name and generally ruin your credit. (You get stuck with the bills but never get the stuff!)

Identity thieves steal your personal information and use it to commit fraud or theft. Strangers or even someone you know could take out a credit card in your name and charge things that you'll end up getting the bill for. Maybe thieves will clean out your savings or checking accounts or take out a loan in your name.

Personal information that could be used to steal your identity include your:

  • Name.
  • Address.
  • Date of birth.
  • Social Security number.
  • Driver's license number.
  • Bank account numbers.
  • Credit card numbers.
  • Passwords and PINs.
  • E-mail addresses and screen names.

Thieves might use your personal information to:

  • Acquire a loan in your name.
  • Authorize electronic funds transfers from your bank or retirement accounts.
  • Charge purchases to your credit card accounts.
  • Open new bank accounts in your name.
  • Obtain a driver's license or passport with your name and their picture.
  • Make money by selling it to others.

The best way to keep your identity from being stolen is to protect this information as much as possible:

  • Remove mail from your mailbox promptly and send any mail through official drop boxes.
  • Shred all mail and papers with your personal information on it.
  • Don't share your bank account or credit card information with anyone.
  • Be careful giving out information online or responding to e-mails.
  • Restrict the people who can see your information on social networking sites.
  • Check account activity (paper or electronic) often.
  • Get yearly credit reports and review the information.
  • Opt out from preapproved credit and insurance offers you didn't ask for by calling (888) 5-OPT OUT or visiting

Preventing Identity Theft

The best way to prevent identity theft is to protect your information. Keep identifying information away from the places criminals are most likely to look for it.

Identity thieves commonly get information by:

  • Going through the trash outside your home, work or a place where you do business.
  • Stealing mail from your mailbox.
  • Breaking into your car or home, or even your purse or wallet.
  • Gaining access to your personal data in the workplace or at a place you do business.
  • Hacking into your personal or work computer.
  • Creating fraudulent e-mails and websites that ask you for your names, passwords and other personal information.
  • Calling you on the phone and trying to trick you into giving your personal information.

Prevent identity theft by:

  • Shredding all mail and documents that contain your personal or financial information.
  • Removing your Social Security card and birth certificate from your wallet or purse.
  • Limiting the number of credit cards you carry with you.
  • Being careful when you're ordering online or over the phone.
  • Not sharing your account information with anyone. If you receive a legitimate-looking request for information, verify it with the company.
  • Install protective software on your computers.
  • Reviewing your free credit reports at least once a year.
  • Securing your personal information by keeping it in a safe place. (If you don't know who your roommate is likely to invite over after class, for example, don't leave your statements or numbers lying out where a visitor could see them.)

    The best way to prevent identity theft is to protect your information. Keep identifying information away from the places criminals are most likely to look for it.

If Your Identity is Stolen

Contact Innovis

Attn: Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 26
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0026

(800) 540-2505

  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Use the online complaint form.
  • Call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline:
    Toll free: (877) 438-4338
    TTY: (866) 653-4261
  • Write Identity Theft Clearinghouse:
    Federal Trade Commission
    600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20580.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.

    Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening more accounts in your name. Contact any of the three consumer reporting agencies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the three agencies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report too. If you do not receive a confirmation from an agency, you should contact that agency directly to place a fraud alert.

  • Equifax
    P.O. Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    (800) 525-6285

  • Experian
    P.O. Box 9532
    Allen, TX 75013-0949
    (888) 397-3742

  • TransUnion
    Fraud Victim Assistance Division
    P.O. Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
    (800) 680-7289

  • Innovis does not share fraud alert information with any other credit reporting agency. To place a fraud alert on your credit report with Innovis, please use the following information:

Reviewing Your Credit Reports

Once you place the fraud alert on your file, you're entitled to order one free copy of your credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports. (Innovis may charge a fee to issue a copy of your credit report.) Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information like your Social Security number, address(es), name or initials, and employers are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, contact the credit reporting agencies for information on how to get it removed.

Continue to check your credit reports periodically, especially for the first year after you discover the identity theft, to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

The FTC has more detailed information on its website.

  • File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
  • Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently
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