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Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines identity theft as the "illegal use of someone else's personal information (such as a Social Security number) in order to obtain money or credit".

Each year the number of identity theft cases increases, with consumers between the ages of 20-39 being the most heavily targeted victims.  In Maryland alone, there were 5,412 identity theft complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission ( FTC) in 2008. The majority of complaints inMaryland were related to credit card fraud.  Across the country, there were 313,982 identity theft complaints received by the FTC in 2008.  Learn how to prevent being an identity theft victim and avoid being another statistic.

ID Theft

How can you detect and prevent identity theft?

  • Protect your social security number. Only give your social security number to trusted sources.
  • If a bill does not arrive as normally scheduled, call your creditor.  Mail theft is a common tool used in identity theft.
  • Avoid giving your personal information over the phone or through the mail unless you initiated the contact.
  • Be sure to shred documents containing personal information before disposing them.
  • Regularly monitor your billing statements and bank charge accounts.  If there are charges that you did not make, you might be a victim of identity theft.
  • Regularly monitor your credit reports by contacting  annualcreditreport.com.

Are you a victim of identity theft?  If so, take immediate action!

  • Contact the three main credit bureaus ( ExperianEquifaxTrans Union) and place a fraud alert on your credit reports.  
  • Contact you local law enforcement agency and report the fraudulent activity.
  • Place a security freeze on your credit report. This is done to prevent credit reporting companies from releasing your credit report without your consent. With a security freeze on your credit report it would be unlikely for an identity thief to open new accounts using your personal information.
  • Contact the Office of Consumer Protection for assistance.  We have an Investigator-on-Duty (T: 240.777.3636), Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  
  • File a  complaint with the FTC. The information provided by the complaint form is used to detect deceptive wrong doings world wide and may lead to an investigation or prosecution.
Contact Information Description
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580
T: 202.326.2222
www.ftc.gov
The Federal Trade Commission has detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft.
Consumer Action
221 Main St., Suite 480
San Francisco, CA 94105
T: 415.777.9635
www.consumer-action.org
Consumer Action provides information on how to prevent identity theft and the steps that need to be taken if you have been a victim of identity theft.
Maryland Attorney General's Office
200 St. Paul Pl.
Baltimore, MD 21202
T: 410.576.6300
TDD: 410.576.6372
www.oag.state.md.us
The MD Attorney General's office has useful information on what to do if you have been a victim of identity theft.
Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105283
Atlanta, GA 30348-5283
T: 877.322.8228
www.annualcreditreport.com

Equifax
P.O. Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348
T: 800.685.1111
www.equifax.com

Experian
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
T: 888.397.3742
www.experian.com

Trans Union
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
T: 800.916.8800 or 800.888.4213
www.transunion.com
To acquire a copy of your credit report, contact Annual Credit Report or the three main credit bureaus.
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