Data theft occurs when someone obtains key pieces of your personally identifying information, such as your name, address, birthday, phone numbers or Social Security Number (SSN). Identity theft occurs when that information is used for any fraudulent or other unlawful purpose. The unlawful acquisition of personal identifying information does not necessarily mean that identity theft has occurred. This distinction is important when considering any response you might wish to make to the disclosure of your SSN. A list of contact information is provided at the end of this guide.
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Periodically monitor your credit reports by requesting a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus.
Recent changes under the FACT Act amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitle consumers to one free credit report within any 12 month period from each of the three major bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). For more information on obtaining free credit reports, visit https://www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-FACTACT. Please note- several popular companies claim to provide 'free' credit reports but then tack on hidden fees. The site above is actually free.
...or Order Additional Copies of Your Report
The credit bureaus will charge a fee for ordering additional copies of your credit report. Order the copies directly from one of the major credit bureaus. Avoid ordering credit reports from third-party credit agencies over the Internet, since many sites that seem to offer you a free credit report may actually attempt to charge you or require you to buy additional services to get the report. Be cautious if requested to provide personal information over the Internet unless you are absolutely sure of the validity of the site.
If you have been positively identified as a victim of identity theft and it involves data derived from UCM records, UCM will arrange for a fee waiver for ordering your credit report. In such cases UCM will notify you in writing with instructions regarding how to sign up for the credit report.
To order a credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus, visit their websites or call their toll-free numbers:
- Sequoia http://www.equifax.com, 1-800-685-1111
- Experian http://www.experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion http://www.transunion.com, 1-800-888-4213
Once you have received a copy of your credit report, look for any accounts that you don't recognize, especially accounts opened recently. Look at the inquiries or requests section for names of creditors from whom you haven't requested credit.
Some inquiries, labeled something like "promotional inquiries" are for unsolicited offers of credit, mostly from companies with whom you do business. Don't be concerned about those inquiries as a sign of fraud. (Note: If you place a fraud alert (See Section 'What is a Fraud Alert and How do I Place One?') on your account, you are automatically removed from lists to receive unsolicited pre-approved and pre-screened credit and insurance offers. You can also stop those offers by visiting https://www.optoutprescreen.com or calling 1-888-5OPTOUT)
Look in the personal information section for addresses where you have never lived. Any of these things might be indications of fraud. Also be on the alert for other possible signs of identity theft, such as calls from creditors or debt collectors about bills that you don't recognize, or unusual charges on your credit card bills.
If you find items you don't understand on your report, call the credit bureau at the number given on the report. Credit bureau staff will review your report with you. If the information can't be explained, then you will need to call the creditors involved and report the crime to your local police or sheriff's office.
If you find errors in your credit report, informing the issuing credit bureau at the phone number located on the report to have the information removed or corrected.
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If you determine that someone actually has used your personal information for an illegal purpose, you should considering taking the following steps:
|File a police report
File a police report with UCM's Public Safety Office or the agency to which UCM Public Safety may refer you.
|Contact the Missouri Attorney General's Office, Consumer Protection Unit
|Contact the Social Security Administration
Contact the Social Security Administration if you believe your Social Security Number has been used illegally and call the SSA Fraud Hotline. You should also periodically contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your SSN, and you may request a copy of your Social Security Statement. Additionally, these other SSA resources are available on the Internet:
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Ask for a copy of "Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft". This is a free comprehensive consumer guide to help you guard against and recover from identity theft. You may also write to the FTC at:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
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These Internet sites provide information on steps you can take to protect your credit and identity.
Missouri Attorney General
The Missouri Attorney General site is a good starting point for learning about personal data and identity theft. It also provides tips on how to protect yourself against different types of credit fraud.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration is the government agency responsible for issuing and managing Social Security numbers. The agency's official site describes whom you should contact, when, and why. It also links to two useful fact sheets:
- Fact Sheet: When Someone Misuses Your Number (05-10064)
- Fact Sheet: Social Security-Your Number and Card (05-10002)
Department of Justice
The Department of Justice site describes what can happen if you are a victim of data theft or identity fraud. It provides steps for action, tips for reducing your risk of fraud, and phone numbers, addresses, and links to credit bureaus and other governmental agencies you may need to contact.
Federal Trade Commission
This site provides a document titled Identity Crisis... What to Do If Your Identity is Stolen that includes information on steps to follow if you are a victim of identity theft.
ID Theft Information
This is the U.S. government's central Web site for information about identity theft, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, offering government reports, consumer updates, and links to other sites.
Department of Education
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Portions of this information is derived from undated TRIWEST information on identity theft.
Portions of this information is derived from the 2009 Federal Trade Commission website information on identity theft.
Portions of this information is derived from the 2008 University of Colorado website information on privacy and identity theft.
Portions of this information is derived from the and 2009 Georgetown University website information on identity protection.