How To: Place a Credit Freeze
Everybody in the United States has the ability to place a freeze on their credit reports, however, each state handles credit freezes differently. Some charge a one-time fee for placing the freeze, some do not. While most freezes last forever, some only last for 7 years. We have more information about the terms of credit freezes for each state.
Victims of Identity Theft with a Police Report or Federal Trade Commission Report:
If you have a police report or a report from the Federal Trade Commission that states you are a victim of identity theft you are entitled to a free credit freeze. To apply for this credit freeze you will need to mail the following information to the three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs):
Include the Form: Security Freeze Request which requests that a freeze is placed on your credit file. You must send a packet to each CRA. Making the request of one will not place it on the other two. Send each packet via Certified Mail with Return Receipt. The CRAs may not accept your request if it is not sent this way.
Freezes for Dependent Adults:
In order to freeze the credit report of a dependent adult, you will need to send to the CRAs proof that you have the legal right to request the freeze on behalf of another. Mail to the CRAs:
Include ITRC’s Letter Form 139. Make sure you explain who you are and that you are contacting the CRA’s on the dependent’s behalf. You must send a packet to each CRA. Making the request of one will not place it on the other two. Send each packet via Certified Mail with Return Receipt. The CRAs may not accept your request if it is not sent this way.
Not all states have extended their laws on freezes to include minor children and not every CRA has extended their freeze services to cover those under the age of 18. You will need to contact each CRA directly to see if your child is eligible for a credit freeze.
The focus of this document is to give suggestions in the case of fraudulent information being reported on a background check or online information search. If you receive/are told there is information that is not yours DON’T PANIC. Information on a background check or an online search does not mean you are a victim of identity theft. Some background check companies and programs will confuse people with similar names, birth dates, etc. or will lump them together into one file.
Your Rights - The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) is the primary federal law regulating employment background checks. Despite its name, the FCRA applies to all employment backgrounds checks conducted by a third party whether they include a credit report or not. See A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In addition to the FCRA, there are many other Federal, State, and Local laws and regulations that may impact a particular employment background check. See Background Check Laws & Regulations.
Steps to Take: Make sure you have a print out of the background check or the search results for your records.
You may decide that you wish to pull your own background records. If you do, consult your local police department or the Better Business Bureau for recommendations on a reputable company.
Individual State Resources ITRC Solution 6 - Criminal Identity Theft ITRC Solution 27 – Fraudulent Work History ITRC Fact Sheet 100 – Financial Identity Theft ITRC Fact Sheet 110 – Criminal Identity Theft (a guide to the crime) ITRC Fact Sheet 126 – Checking Accounts and Check Fraud
What do you do when somebody has pulled your annual free credit report using your information?
If you believe or feel this may be related to a case of stalking, consult your Attorney General’s website for programs that are available to help protect you.
FS 115 When you personally know the thief
FS 115A When your spouse is the thief.
FS 124 Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts
FS 132 - What are Identity Theft Products?
SN 30 - Clearing Financial Account Takeover
“Doxing” is the increasingly common practice of tracing internet activity with the purpose of uncovering and then publishing personally identifiable information about the individual. The methods employed in pursuit of this information range from searching publically available databases and social media websites to hacking and social engineering.
In some ways, doxing is a form of cyberbullying, or even extortion. The tactic is often employed when the “doxer” wants to intimidate an individual into a certain behavior. It may be hard to imagine that the average user—you, in this case—would be an attractive target or would engage in any behavior that could cause you to become a victim of this exploitation. But it’s becoming a more and more common practice, mostly because it’s so simple to do and doesn’t require any set technological skill.
One of the unfortunate realities about doxing is that simply uncovering information about someone isn’t a crime; but using it to threaten, intimidate, or extort the victim is. However, some doxers feel completely justified in their behavior. For example, actor Adam Baldwin was doxed because of his involvement in a controversial movement entitled #GamerGate along with “Business Journal” columnist Milo Yiannopoulos and four other people.*. The doxer was apparently offended by their public stance on this controversial issue and punished them for their crimes with the release of personal information in a document posted on Pastebin that could be accessed by the public. Baldwin’s personal phone number was exposed, and other people had their parents’ addresses, their own addresses, and birthdates released. The sender threatened that if activities they found offensive continued “…this list grows”.
There are many ways by which scammers and stalkers can find out things about you just by skimming what you have posted online. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand the long-term implications of posting everyday activities, pictures, or updates about seemingly innocuous information or activities.
People who engage in “doxing” are usually doing it to scare or harass the person they have targeted. If someone targets you and claims to have your information, do not discuss it online or make it public, and do not become confrontational. You may very well be taking the bait the doxer is holding out, and you may inadvertently be confirming the authenticity of the information the doxer thinks he’s acquired. It can also encourage the person to harass you even more in order to get a stronger reaction out of you. Even if he threatens to release the information online, do not confront him or talk about it online. Report it to online moderators, and be sure to report the situation to the police as stalking or cyberbullying, so there is a confirmed paper trail of the initial behavior if the situation escalates.
The following information contains some suggestions that can help you stay safe online: