Credit Protection: Identity Theft
Credit Card Select
Victims Reference Guide
Provided By New Jersey State
Identity theft is a serious problem affecting
millions of people each year. It involves acquiring key
pieces of someone's identifying information, such as
name, address, date of birth, social security number and
mother's maiden name, in order to impersonate them. This
information enables the identity thief to commit
numerous forms of fraud which include, but are not
limited to, taking over the victim's financial accounts,
opening new bank accounts, purchasing automobiles,
applying for loans, credit cards and social security
benefits, renting apartments, and establishing services
with utility and phone companies.
identity theft a crime?
New Jersey is one of forty three states which do in
fact have a statute for identity theft. In the State of
New Jersey, identity theft is covered under the wrongful
(Wrongful Impersonation: 2C:21-17)
Wrongful impersonation escalates from a disorderly
persons offense to a crime when the total monetary
values for the goods or services that were defrauded
Most identity crimes will be multi-jurisdictional in
nature. Frequently, you will not even realize that your
identity was compromised until you receive a bill,
statement, or some other notice that alerts you to the
fact that you have a problem. Many times this is months
after your identifiers were first stolen. The subsequent
fraudulent use of your identifiers may very well have
occurred in a different state.
identity theft occur?
Offenders who commit identity theft may or may not be
known to the victim. There are many ways the offender
may obtain your personal information or information
related to your personal financial accounts. Information
can be obtained from trash bins or at places where you
conduct your personal business. It can be obtained from
identity thieves who work at banks, mortgage firms,
social or credit agencies, city-state-federal agencies,
auto dealerships, collection agencies, utility service
providers, telemarketers, doctor's offices, merchants
and other businesses that have access to your personal
information or credit card information. Identity thieves
also contact victims via telephone and e-mail requesting
personal information. Information can also be obtained
from obituaries and taken out of residential garbage
cans, mailboxes and mail facilities. The information
obtained from these sources is used to assume a false
Preventing Identity Theft
The Do's and Don'ts for preventing identity theft.
Order a copy of your credit report every year from
all three of the major credit reporting agencies in
order to check for fraudulent activity or discrepancies.
In the State of New Jersey, you can obtain one free
report each year from each of the credit reporting
Protect your mail by removing it from your mailbox as
soon as possible. Consider using a locked mailbox.
Shred any discarded paperwork that contains personal
identifiers or financial information, including
pre-approved credit card and loan applications. If a
vendor uses carbon copies for credit card bills, ask for
and destroy the carbons.
Stop pre-approved credit offers by calling the Credit
Reporting Industry at 1-888-567-8688.
Know where your personal information is kept, who has
access to it, and who you may have provided it to in the
past. Protect your wallet and purse and never leave them
unattended. Keep an eye on your credit card when using
it to pay for purchases.
Be aware of your surroundings when using ATM cards,
making credit card purchases, using telephone credit
card numbers and utilizing pin numbers or passwords.
Carefully review your bills, bank statements, credit
card statements and other financial accounts, to ensure
that all balances and receipts match and no activity is
If you use a computer, install virus protection and
firewall software to discourage hackers. Be aware of
personal information that you send over the internet
that could be viewed by others.
Destroy computers, hard drives, zip-drives, floppy
disks, compact disks, or any other electronic device
which may contain personal information before disposing
Request your financial institutions to add security
to your accounts, such as a special password.
Do not give out personal identifiers or financial
identifiers in response to unsolicited offers by mail,
phone, internet, and/or in person. Identity thieves
frequently pose as legitimate business people, charity
workers, or law enforcement to gain your trust.
Do not fill out personal information on warranty
cards and sweepstakes entries; it is often sold to
others as a marketing tool.
Do not provide or use your social security number
unless you have to.
Do not provide personal identifiers, account numbers
or other personal information unless you know the
information will be secure.
Following these steps will reduce your risk of
being a victim of an identity theft. Your goal should be
to reduce other people's access to your information.
Remember: It is your responsibility to correct
credit errors and restore your identity.
I do if I become a victim of identity theft?
- Immediately call the fraud units of the three
credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and
Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards or
identity to them. Ask that your account be flagged and
have a "Fraud Alert/Victim Impact" statement placed on
your credit file, asking that creditors call you
before granting credit. Obtain the names and phone
numbers of businesses with whom fraudulent accounts
have been opened.
- Review your credit report with them and request a
|P.O. Box 105873
||P.O. Box 949
||P.O. Box 390
|Atlanta, Ga. 30348-5873
||Allen, Tx. 75013-0949
||Springfield, Pa. 19064-0390
- Contact your creditors and those who provided
credit fraudulently, by phone and in writing to inform
them of the problem. Ask for replacement cards, close
old or fraudulent accounts, obtain new account numbers
and pin numbers if the accounts have been used
Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
- Contact the FTC and file a report either through
the FTC web site (www.consumer.gov/idtheft)
or by telephone 1-877-ID-THEFT. The FTC is the
clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity
theft. The FTC helps victims by providing information
to help resolve financial and other problems that
could result from identity theft.
- Obtain an "Identity Crimes Affidavit" and complete
it. It will be useful when notifying merchants,
financial institutions, credit bureaus, and it will
assist the police.
- Contact your local police department, file a
report and obtain a case number. Most credit and
financial institutions will require that you make a
Assisting Law Enforcement with Your Case:
- Set up a folder to keep a detailed history of the
crime. Keep a log of all contacts and make copies of
all documents. Provide this information to the police
and assist them with obtaining additional information.
- Gather all evidence and documentation of your
financial loss and provide it to the police.
- Obtain suspect information or descriptions and
provide it to the police.
- Obtain possible witness information, the
salesperson, apartment managers, employers and persons
who accepted the fraudulent applications or documents.
Provide this information to the police.
- Complete FTC "Identity Crimes Affidavit" and
provide it to the police.
- If you have checks stolen or accounts set up
fraudulently, report it to the bank and close the
accounts. Set up new accounts and put stop payments on
the outstanding fraudulent checks.
- Report the stolen checks to the check verification
|National Check Fraud Service
|Equifax Check Systems
|International Check Services
- If your ATM card is stolen or compromised, get a
new card, account number and password.
Fraudulent Change of Address:
- Notify the local US Postal Inspector if you
suspect someone fraudulently changed your address.
Find out what your address was changed to. Notify the
local Postmaster for that address and instruct them to
forward all mail addressed to you to your correct
- The phone numbers for U.S. Postal Inspectors and
Post Offices can be obtained in the phone book under
Federal Government or through their web site, (www.usps.gov/postalinspectors).
Social Security Number:
- If your Social Security number has been used
fraudulently, contact the Social Security
Administration at 1-800-269-0271, or through their web
Drivers License Fraud:
- If you suspect that your drivers license or
registration was lost, stolen or fraudulently used
contact the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles. You
will have to appear in person at a regional office and
fill out a fraud affidavit. You must bring forms of
identification and all proof to show fraudulent
activity. You can locate your regional office by
calling NJ DMV at 1-609-292-6500 or visiting their web
- Protect yourself from passport fraud. Contact the
U.S. State Department at their web site (www.travel.state.gov)
and alert them that you were the victim of identity
theft. Request that they alert you if anyone attempts
to use your identity to acquire a passport.
False Civil and Criminal Judgments:
- Contact the Court where the judgment was entered
and report that you are the victim of identity theft.
Personal Property Security:
- If your suspect that your identity was compromised
by someone who had access to your residence, change
the locks to your residence and vehicles if necessary.
- Contact your local utility companies to see if
there is any unusual activity on your accounts.
Laws that provide you protection from identity theft.
Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998
Anyone who knowingly transfers or uses, without
lawful authority, a means of identification of another
person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any
unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of
Federal law, or constitutes a felony under any
applicable State or local law.
Fair Credit Reporting Act:
This act establishes procedures for correcting
mistakes on your credit record and requires that your
credit record only be provided for legitimate business
Fair Credit Billing Act:
This act establishes procedures for resolving billing
errors on your credit card accounts. It also limits a
consumer's liability for fraudulent credit card charges.
When proper notice is given the consumer's liability is
limited to $50.00.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:
This act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair
or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills that
your creditor has forwarded for collection.
Electronic Fund Transfer Act:
This act provided consumer protection for all
transactions using a debit card or electronic means to
debit or credit an account. It also limits a consumer's
liability for unauthorized electronic fund transfers.
You can research and review the federal laws at
the U.S. Code web site,