Identity Theft Reporting
What to do if you suspect your identity has been compromised.
If you are an EverSafe Member, call EverSafe immediately at 1-888-575-3837.
If you are not an EverSafe Member, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center at www.idtheftcenter.org or call 1-888-400-5530.
Should I file an Extended Fraud Alert or a Credit Freeze?
In addition to contacting EverSafe or the Identity Theft Resource Center, you should file a fraud alert or a credit or security freeze with credit reporting agencies.
Both a fraud alert and a credit or security freeze are free. But there are important differences between these two options:
- An extended fraud alert means that a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit. An extended fraud alert, lasting seven years, is available only to identity theft victims. To get an extended fraud alert, you’ll first need an Identity Theft Report, which you can create at IdentityTheft.gov.
- A credit freeze generally stops all access to your credit report, while a fraud alert permits creditors to get your report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. A freeze is available to anyone, whether or not you are a victim of identity theft.
What is a Fraud Alert?
A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity. Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent the misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.
There are three types of fraud alerts:
Fraud Alert. If you’re concerned about identity theft, but haven’t yet become a victim, this fraud alert will protect your credit from unverified access for one year. You may want to place a fraud alert on your file if your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information is lost or stolen.
Extended Fraud Alert. For victims of identity theft, an extended fraud alert will protect your credit for seven years.
Active Duty Military Alert. For those in the military who want to protect their credit while deployed, this fraud alert lasts for one year and can be renewed for the length of your deployment. The credit bureaus will also take you off their marketing lists for pre-screened credit card offers for two years, unless you ask them not to.
How do I File a Fraud Alert?
Filing a fraud alert will help stop identity thieves from opening any accounts in your name. The alert will show on your credit report, and businesses issuing credit are required to obtain proof of identity anytime they encounter this alert.
To file a fraud alert, call one of the three credit bureaus and tell them you would like to file a fraud alert. The credit bureaus will not charge you to file a fraud alert. The bureau that you call is required to contact the other two bureaus. The alert lasts for 90 days. If you wish to extend the alert, you will need to call again after 90 days. If you are an EverSafe Member, EverSafe will send you an alert reminding you to refile the fraud alert.
Contact one of the following credit bureaus:
Equifax – www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud – 800-525-6285
Experian – www.experian.com/fraud – 888-397-3742
TransUnion – www.transunion.com/fraud-victim-resource/place-fraud-alert – 800-680-7289
1 – Ask it to put a fraud alert on your credit report.
2 – The credit bureau you contact will then contact the other two credit bureaus. Placing a fraud alert is free.
3 – Be sure the credit bureaus have your current contact information so they can get in touch with you.
4 – The credit bureau will explain that you can get a free credit report and other rights you have. EverSafe Plus and Gold Plans provide a credit report.
5 – Mark your calendar. The fraud alert stays on your report for one year. You can get a new one after one year.
How do I file a Credit Freeze?
If you are not planning on using your credit for a long time (applying for a credit card, home mortgage, home equity line of credit, a car loan or any other type of loan), you can freeze your credit report. Unlike the filing of a fraud alert, you must contact each credit bureau individually as shown below. Filing a credit or security freeze is free.
Equifax – Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services – 800-685-1111
Experian – Experian.com/help – 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
TransUnion – TransUnion.com/credit-help – 888-909-8872
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 bureau will provide you with 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.
Monitoring Your Credit Report and Other Data Sources
If your identity has been compromised, it is important for you to monitor your credit report as well as other data sources that may indicate that your identity is being used by someone other than you.
If your identity has never been compromised, you are still at risk. Data breaches involving your personal information may occur even if you have never placed the information online.
The easiest way to monitor your credit report and other data sources is to subscribe to EverSafe. There is a monthly subscription cost for EverSafe, but the monitoring will occur each and every day; EverSafe includes algorithms to automatically detect and alert you to suspicious activity.
You can also monitor your credit report at no cost annually from each of the three major credit bureaus. To do so, visit www.annualcreditreport.com. If you are going to pursue this approach, EverSafe recommends that you pull your Equifax credit report immediately. Follow this up by requesting your Experian credit report four months later and your TransUnion credit report eight months later. Restart the process by reordering your Equifax credit report 12 months later, followed by the Experian credit report 16 months later and your Trans Union credit report 20 months later and so on. This will not enable you to monitor your credit report daily and you may be taking unnecessary risk, but it will save you the monthly subscription cost.
In addition to monitoring your credit report, EverSafe will also monitor the opening of new accounts at www.EarlyWarning.com. If you decide not to subscribe to EverSafe, you may contact Early Warning for a free copy of your consumer report at 1-800-325-7775. Early Warning does not charge consumers a fee for a copy of your consumer report.
LexisNexis provides a free public records search to help you review public records for suspicious activity associated with your identity. The search includes public records with information specific to real estate transactions and ownership data, liens, judgments, bankruptcy records, professional license information and historical addresses. Request a Full File Disclosure by visiting personalreports.lexisnexis.com and fill out the Full File Disclosure Request Form. Once they have verified your identity, all information will be mailed to you.
Opting Out of Marketing Offers
Below is a list of sites where you can opt out of marketing offers or opt out of being contacted with marketing offers. Please use these links to visit each of the sites and opt out of their respective lists. This will substantially reduce internet, direct mail and telemarketing offers. This is not intended to be a complete list. There are over 250 companies that legitimately sell your information to marketers. We have included the largest providers and providers who cover multiple companies.
Consumer credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, TransUnion): A little-known fact is that the consumer credit reporting agencies are permitted to include your name on lists used to make credit or insurance marketing offers (e.g. credit card offers, auto insurance offers). To remove yourself from these lists, visit the following site to complete your opt out. Opt out of Credit Agencies.
Direct Marketing Association (DMA): The DMA represents nearly 3,600 organizations, including most of the leaders in the direct marketing community, and can help you manage your mail preferences. Visit the following link to opt out of organizations which are members of the DMA:
Direct mail opt out from the Direct Marketing Association.
The DMA also has a special section for caregivers to use that is accessible at:
Caregiver’s direct mail opt out from the Direct Marketing Association.
Acxiom: Acxiom is a marketing technology and services company that collects data for their marketing clients so that they may advertise to tailored audiences. This is accomplished by gathering personal information about education, family, income, mortgage, interests, etc. If you would like to prevent Acxiom from giving marketers your data, you can opt-out online.
Some important things to note: Opting out of Acxiom’s data collection will not prevent you from receiving all marketing materials; it will only prevent marketers from accessing your personal information. That being said, some find it preferable having marketing offers tailored to their interests and therefore are better off not opting out of Acxiom. If you have further questions about which option is best for you, contact an Acxiom consumer advocate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you chose not to opt out, it is possible to view the information Acxiom has gathered from you. First, go to https://aboutthedata.com/. Once on the homepage, scroll to the bottom and select “click here” next to “see and edit marketing data about you”. You must register to access the information but the site shows everything Acxiom has collected about you and allows you to edit this data if you so desire.
Towerdata: Towerdata is a company that assists marketing companies in enhancing their email marketing with updated information on consumers’ addresses, phone numbers, interests, demographics and similar personal data. You can prevent them from selling the information associated with your email address.
Register on the do-not-call list: Another way to reduce harassment and fraudulent activity is to eliminate telemarketers by adding your phone number into the National Do Not Call Registry from the Federal Trade Commission. Detailed information is available on our do-not-call information page. Note: the do-not-call-list does not apply to charities or companies for which you are already a customer.
Opt out of people search services: Another way to prevent criminals from getting your personal information from legitimate web services is to opt out of people search services. Below are some of the more popular ones that EverSafe recommends that you opt out of:
Unsubscribe from marketing emails: Any legitimate marketing email must have an opt out or unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email to be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act. To eliminate email marketing offers which continue after opting out at these sites, click on the opt out or unsubscribe link in any email marketing message you receive and follow the instructions.
Network Advertising Initiative: The Network Advertising Initiative offers a free tool that will check advertising cookies on your computer. It will then allow you to create an “opt out” cookie that will restrict the selected companies from delivering ads tailored to you.
What to Do If You Suspect Abuse
- You are not alone and help is available: If you or someone you know is in danger, call 911 without delay. Reports to the police can be made anonymously, but it’s important to note that law enforcement professionals are now trained on issues related to fraud, identity theft and elder abuse. Many police departments work with social service agencies that provide assistance to crime victims and counseling to seniors. When reporting exploitation to the police, it’s important to request the name of the police officer to whom the abuse is reported and to obtain a complaint report number, if applicable. This information may be important when following up with the police and when reporting the abuse to financial institutions and/or social services agencies.
- Adult Protective Services (APS), also known as Protective Services for Adults (PSA): APS/PSA is a system of services provided to abused, neglected or exploited older adults and adults with disabilities. It is administered nationwide by city or state health, aging or regulatory agencies and makes health and social services, as well as legal intervention, available to qualified adults. In many states, reporting suspected abuse and/or exploitation involving vulnerable adults or seniors is mandatory. Contact information for APS/PSA in your jurisdiction can be found at www.napsa-now.org/.
- Notify financial institutions: If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of fraud or identity theft, the affected financial institution(s) and credit reporting agencies should be made aware of the exploitation. Your civil attorney, accountant and insurance company should be alerted to the abuse as well.
- File a Fraud Alert: If your identifying information has been compromised, you should file a fraud alert with a credit reporting agency in order to protect yourself. Filing a fraud alert will help prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. See the section at the top of this page entitled How do I File a Fraud Alert?
Identity Theft and Fraud Prevention Resources
Consumers are targeted every day for identity theft, check fraud, online fraud through email and Internet scams, elder financial abuse and more. Criminals are constantly developing new schemes to commit identity theft and fraud.
Here are some resources available to provide you with information and education to help protect you from becoming a victim:
AARP Scam Alert – action.aarp.org
Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – www.consumerfinance.gov/older-americans
Federal Trade Commission – www.consumer.ftc.gov
Identity Theft Resource Center – www.idtheftcenter.org
National Center on Elder Abuse – ncea.acl.gov
National Adult Protective Services – www.napsa-now.org/
National Center for Victims of Crime – www.victimsofcrime.org
National Council on Aging – www.ncoa.org
Before investing with a new broker or financial advisor, consider checking out the respective credentials at the following resources:
Check Broker/Advisor Credentials – www.brokercheck.finra.org, www.adviserinfo.sec.gov
Senior Investor Tools – ServeOurSeniors.org
Securities Helpline for Seniors – 1-844-574-3577