With the number of high visibility, high risk personally identifiable information (PII) breaches in the news recently, this article will review the steps that you should take if your PII has been compromised and you have become an actual victim of identity fraud.
Future CHIPS articles will continue to highlight specific Department of the Navy incidents to increase PII awareness. When names and other sensitive personal information are disclosed not only are there identity fraud concerns, but also security issues to consider.
Has something like this happened to you?
-- You get a phone call or letter telling you that you have been approved or denied credit for accounts that you never opened.
--You no longer receive your credit card statements, or you notice that some of your mail seems to be missing.
--Your credit card statement includes charges for things you know you never purchased.
--A collection agency contacts you for an account you never opened.
If so, it's possible that you or a family member has become a victim of identity theft and fraud. If you suspect any improper or illegal activity is taking place, here are some recommended actions to consider:
1. Order a copy of your credit report (http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ or by calling 1-877-322-8228) to see if any new accounts or credit inquiries show up. Virtually all of your credit information is in your credit report. If someone is opening accounts in your name, it should show up there. If you suspect you've been a victim of fraud (for example; you've had your mail stolen, lost your wallet, or been contacted by a collection agency for an account you've never heard of), you should contact the fraud department of each credit bureau. You are eligible for a free credit report sent via U.S. mail if you are a victim of fraud or ID theft.
2. Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and report that you think your identity has been stolen. Request that a "Fraud Alert" be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
Equifax: http://www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance/ or 866 349-5191
Experian: http://www.experian.com/ or 888 397 3742
TransUnion: http://www.transunion.com/fraud or 1-800-680-7289
3. Research the crime and file complaints. Contact each company where you think you might have been a victim of ID fraud. Talk to their security or fraud department and explain what has happened. Review your account with them for any incorrect charges or a change of address. If you find something is wrong, you may need to close the account. If you open any new accounts, ask the company to put passwords on the account.
4. File a police report. File a report with your local police or the police department where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime. Also, make sure that the crime is reported as identity theft.
5. Keep a log of all conversations and activities. Make notes of everyone you speak with; ask for names, department names, phone extensions, and record the date you spoke to to each entity. Don't throw your notes away. Retain all notes and any correspondence, including emails, for your records. Keep track of the time you spend documenting this information and lost hours at work. You will need this information if the perpetrator is ever caught. You can be reimbursed for the time spent and hours lost.
6. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the FTC assists victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help resolve the financial and other problems that can result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action. If you're a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting its hotline. By phone: Toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
7. Call the Social Security Administration if you suspect that your Social Security number is being fraudulently used. By phone: Toll-free 1-800-269-0271 or https://www.ssa.gov .
8. Contact the Internal Revenue Service if you suspect the improper use of your identification information in connection with tax violations. By phone: Toll-free 1-800-908-4490 (may experience long wait times) or https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection .
Be proactive. Even though you may be offered and accept credit monitoring as the result of a breach, personally monitoring each of your financial accounts on a regular basis can help ensure that any fraudulent activity is recognized as early as possible. You can then take the action required to limit the impact on you and your family.
Please visit the DON CIO website often for the latest tips and guidance for preventing identity fraud: http://www.doncio.navy.mil/privacy .
Steve Daughety is the privacy lead for the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer.