The ITRC suggests that active duty personnel consider using online banking services in order to monitor and track bank account activity. Please be aware of your environment (for example key loggers, spyware, shoulder surfing) when accessing accounts.
An active duty alert is similar to a fraud alert in that it requires an inquiring creditor to verify that it is you who is attempting to open a line of credit. The difference is, unlike the 90 day fraud alert, this alert lasts for a year. Additionally, if you are deployed out of the country and cannot be contacted, you may appoint somebody you trust to act as your representative.
Contacting CRAs by mail (see ITRC Solution SN 02 – CRA Contact Information)
Send a letter asking for an Active Duty Fraud Alert to be placed and your credit report to be mailed to you (see ITRC Letter Form LF 133). Enclose the following items:
Contacting Credit Reporting Agencies – Placing Alerts Online
Service members in the U.S. Military often consider granting a Power of Attorney to a spouse or a loved one before they are deployed. Although this can be a good idea, please be careful.
Unfortunately, many service members have found out too late that the person they gave a General Power of Attorney to did not have their best interests in mind. They come home to find their bank accounts cleaned out, credit cards opened in their name, and other credit problems that are all legally possible due to a General Power of Attorney.
We suggest that you read the Explanation of Powers of Attorney put together by the Judge Advocate General office. This document on Powers of Attorney covers issues like: how to stay safe when filing a POA, what you will need to grant a POA depending on POA category, and how to revoke it when you are ready to. The ITRC strongly suggests that you consult with the Judge Advocate General office for Command Legal Assistance prior to granting any Power of Attorney.
Identity Theft Resource Center
Federal Trade Commission website: www.identitytheft.gov
For further information visit the following links:
This fact sheet covers:
The Identity Theft Resource Center receives numerous inquiries from consumers regarding identity theft products and services available for purchase. While ITRC does not endorse any specific product or service, this document has been created to help consumers understand various products, their benefits and limitations, and what items should be included. Most of these services can be done by an industrious and identity theft-aware consumer. For instance, you can check your own credit reports via the free federal program: www.annualcreditreport.com. Please refer to ITRC Fact Sheet FS 125 for more information.
However, if you have the discretionary money and want to take advantage of consumer products, this guide will help you understand a little bit more about what you’re purchasing.
Identity theft is not just a financial crime. Therefore, it is ITRC‘s position that no one product can fully protect you from identity theft and that any advertisement stating it provides a complete protection program may be misleading. For example, none of these products can stop a criminal from using your information when being ticketed by a police officer. Additionally, they cannot stop someone from using your Social Security number to get a job or apply for government benefits.
Using the word “protect,” implies the ability to proactively stop a crime before it happens. Some of these products and services are reactive and only let you know a crime has occurred after the fact.
As you consider the following services, ITRC would like to remind you to shop carefully, read contracts and privacy policies, and check out companies with the Better Business Bureau or state Attorneys General. You can also do an Internet search for complaints about specific companies or services.
Credit monitoring is a service which allows consumers to be advised about changes on their credit reports, and/or to view a summary of their credit report upon request. This service may monitor only one credit report or it could monitor reports from all the major Credit Reporting Agencies (i.e. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You should be aware that all three reports are not identical.
If you wish to sign up for a credit monitoring service, you should review and evaluate the various options available to determine the product and/or service that best meets your needs.
To date, credit monitoring products only help in a limited area of financial identity theft, and do not address the other forms of identity theft, such as criminal, governmental services, etc. They also do not indicate account takeover or the misuse of existing credit cards. In addition, new bank accounts, utility accounts, and some other types of financial accounts may not appear on your credit report until they go to collection.
Please beware of the following:
These new services go beyond traditional credit monitoring by including additional areas where fraudulent activity may be indicated. In some cases, these may be more proactive in alerting you to fraudulent activity in real time. Each service is slightly different.
Additional areas may include:
Some companies calculate identity risk by looking for any suspicious or unusual relationships among billions of basic identity elements. Others include credit monitoring and some of the additional items mentioned above. Look for a service that notifies you quickly of any developing problem.
A credit or security freeze is a stronger measure than a fraud alert. It literally locks your credit report from viewing for the purpose of new lines of credit, and for some employment and tenancy purposes. When in place, potential creditors, insurance companies, landlords and some employers doing financial background checks may be told that your report is unavailable for viewing. The price varies from state to state and is usually free for victims of identity theft (please see our State Resources Map for your state’s freeze law). This product is typically added to other identity theft services. For more information about Credit Freezes see ITRC Fact Sheet FS 124.
Ask the following questions?
By definition, victim resolution or restitution is the process by which a victim clears all fraudulent records created by an identity thief.
There are companies that will do all the restoration work for you. Make sure the company will cover any identity theft case that unknowingly existed before you purchased the program. A contract clause denying coverage for a pre-existing identity theft case is the one that most consumers discover after the fact and then find themselves without assistance.
Ask about the following items:
ITRC cannot stress enough the need for victims to do their homework as part of your “buyer beware” due diligence.
Note: There are many state and non-profit organizations that will assist victims WITHOUT charge. These organizations will guide victims through the process, step by step, and will even provide letter forms to use.
This type of company checks the Internet for listings of your personal identifying information. While names, Social Security numbers and financial records are critical to identity theft, other pieces of information, such as your email address, also expose you to spammers and identity thieves. Once personal information is detected, these services will provide an alert so that steps may be taken to remove it.
Questions to ask these companies include:
These are insurance programs, or add-ons to existing policies, that help replace real expenses incurred by the victims of identity theft. Look for the following items:
This fact sheet will cover:
According to a Nilson Report in April, 2009, 78 percent of American households - about 91.1 million - had one or more credit cards at the end of 2008. “In less than 15 years, debit card transactions in the United States grew from 1 percent of noncash transactions to more than 50 percent." (Source: Tower Group, August 2009)
Visa reports there are 309 million Visa credit cards and 352 million Visa debit cards in circulation in the United States. MasterCard states that as of Sept. 30, 2009, there were 211 million MasterCard credit cards and 130 million debit cards. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 159 million credit cardholders in the United States in 2000, 173 million in 2006, and that number is projected to grow to 181 million Americans by 2010.
The fact of the matter is banks make money on purchases made with debit or credit cards. Whether it is a percentage based fee on a “signature” transaction or a flat fee for a PIN-based transaction, banks profit from consumers’ growing use of plastic.
You have two main choices when making purchases with a card:
Credit cards – making purchases with the creditor’s money until billed
Debit cards – having your money immediately extracted from the linked account
A credit card is a bank-issued card that allows people to purchase goods or services from a merchant and to pay for them at a later date. Every month the credit card company provides a bill, which reflects the card activity during the previous 30 days. Also, credit cards may be sponsored by large retailers (such as major clothing or department stores) or by banks or corporations (like VISA, MasterCard or American Express).
The ATM card is the most basic form of “plastic.” An ATM card is offered by financial institutions as a method of withdrawing cash/funds through the use of Automated Teller Machines. In addition to withdrawing money, you can check account balances, transfer money between accounts or deposit funds into an account. The Debit feature, adding the ability to make purchases, is a feature now offered by most financial institutions.
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a debit card looks like a credit card but works like an electronic check. A debit card is linked with the customer’s checking or banking account. When used, money is immediately withdrawn from that account. There are two ways for a merchant to process a debit card transaction:
The problem with Debit cards is that they can be used for credit without your PIN. The swiping of a debit card, with the use of a forged signature, can easily wipe out your account/s.
A growing threat to both credit card and debit card users is an activity commonly known as "skimming." Skimming occurs when thieves set up a scanning device that captures the magnetic strip and keypad information from ATM machines, gas pumps, and retail and restaurant checkout devices. This allows for the duplication of the card enabling it to be used as either a debit or credit card.
After the waiter takes your debit card for payment, he skims (scans) the card before returning it to the table. With this number in hand, there exists the possibility of duplicating that number onto a fraudulent debit card. At this time, the new card may be swiped as a CREDIT purchase without the need for a PIN number.
You pull into a gas station to fill up your tank. Someone has mounted a skimmer on the face of the point of purchase device. At this point, the thief has the information necessary to create a fraudulent card. Additionally, an extra device may be placed within the line of sight of the keypad to video record your PIN code.
Key logging comes in two forms: the first form is a physical device which can be attached to a computer, most commonly via the keyboard input port. These devices tend to collect a finite number of key strokes. The device can then be removed and used by the thief to see every key stroke made on that computer.
The second form of key logging is software-based. In other words, this is a program which may be added to your computer by logging into a website, receipt of a bogus email, or the exposure to a virus or Trojan horse. This type of key logging will transmit your exact key strokes to a remote location where the thief can have access to it. This occurs whenever your computer is logged on to the internet.
Mr. Brown is a traveling salesman staying at a well-known hotel equipped with a business center. He uses the business center computer to access various accounts. Once he leaves the computer, the thief comes by and removes the physical key logger device.
A software-based key logging program has been loaded on your computer by way of a Trojan horse. Unaware, you go through your day to day on-line activities which included monitoring your financial accounts, accessing emails, on-line shopping, etc. The entire time your computer is linked to the internet, it is communicating your keystrokes to a remote site. The thief may then retrieve this information at will.
Misinformation on medical records may be caused by human error or identity theft. It can lead to an inaccurate diagnosis of a condition and could be fatal if the information causes a drug interaction, allergic reaction or inappropriate diagnoses.
You should be able to fully correct medical records created in your name. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is federal law that protects patients from unauthorized access to personal medical information and addresses the problem of errors in medical records.
Health care providers are often unwilling to remove any information from your medical record because it may simply be a case of mixing two patients’ records and they don’t want to lose any information regarding either patient. Outlined below are steps that you can take to rectify mistakes in your medical records and protect yourself from the consequences associated with erroneous health records.
For the purpose of this information guide, all information provided is per HIPAA regulations. We suggest that you also check your state laws about any additional rules or regulations regarding health care privacy and record correction.
How to correct errors in your medical and insurance records:
ITRC Fact Sheet FS 130 – Basic Medical Identity Theft
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - The area of medical privacy is complex. It is guided by HIPAA (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and your state laws.