Tony's Tips
Identity Theft

Dear Appreciated Friend,

We at Tony’s Body Shop are committed to bringing you and your family the latest information for your protection and well-being. The increasing number of people affected by identity theft is alarming.

Over 9.9 million people became victims of identity theft last year. These victims reported more than $5 billion in out-of-pocket losses. Unlike victims of other crimes, who are generally taken seriously, identity-theft victims often find themselves needing to prove their innocence, and that they aren’t trying to get out of bad debts. California is one of the few states that have taken measures to help its residents deal with this crime.

We have consolidated this report to help you protect yourselves and your families from being one of those many victims.


In this Issue you will learn:

• How identity thieves get your information
• How identity thieves use this information
• How to best protect yourself from identity theft
• What to do in the event you are a victim

How identity thieves get your information:

• They steal wallets and purses containing your identification, credit and bankcards.
• They steal your mail, which may include your bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, and tax information.
• They complete a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location.
• They rummage through your trash, or the trash of businesses, for personal data in a practice known as “dumpster diving.”
• They obtain your credit report by posing as a landlord, employer, etc.
• They find personal information in your home.
• They use personal information you share on the Internet.
• They scam you, often through email, by posing as legitimate companies or government agencies you do business with.
• They get your information from the workplace in a practice known as “business record theft” by stealing files out of offices where you’re a customer, employee, patient or student; bribing an employee who has access to your files; or “hacking” into electronic files.
They lean over your shoulder while you are on your computer or at the ATM terminal


How identity thieves use your personal information:

• They call your credit card issuer, pretend to be you, ask to change the mailing address on your credit card account, and then run up charges on your account.
• They open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and SSN.
• They establish phone or wireless service in your name.
• They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
• They file for bankruptcy under your name.
• They buy cars by taking out auto loans in your name.
• They give your name to the police during an arrest.


How you can protect yourself from identity theft:

• Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus listed below and make sure it’s accurate. In California your first report is free.
• Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
• In California you can “freeze” your credit so that identity thieves can’t open accounts in their names. It takes a personal ID number that only you know to unfreeze the account so that credit can be granted.
• Ask about security procedures on your personal records in your workplace.
• Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or are sure you know whom you’re dealing with.
• Guard your mail and trash from theft, and secure personal information in your home.
• Don’t carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.
• Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
• Carry only the identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you’ll actually need.
• Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.
• Be wary of promotional scams.
• Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work.
• Before you dispose of a computer, delete personal information. Use a “wipe” utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive. For more information, see Clearing Information From Your Computer’s Hard Drive (www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oig/hq/harddrive.pdf) from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
• Look for Web site privacy policies. If you don’t see a privacy policy, consider surfing elsewhere.
• Notify the three major credit bureaus in writing that you do not want personal information about you shared for promotional purposes. : 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567- 8688).


What to do in the event you are a victim:

• Call your local police department, report the theft and ask them to document it. CA police will give you a copy of the report.
• Call the Federal Trade Commission’s ( FTC’s) Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).
• Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently, and follow up in writing — by certified letter, return receipt requested — so you can prove when the institution received your letter. Keep a copy of the letter you send for your records. Write to the creditor at the address given for "billing inquiries," not the address for sending your payments. Include your name, address, account number and a description of the billing error, including the amount and date of the error.
• Call all credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
• Find out as much information about the suspect as you can so you can share that information with the police and the FTC.
• If you’re closing existing accounts and opening new ones, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords.
• Set up a filing system for easy access to your paperwork. Keep old files even if you believe your case is closed.
• Keep a list of anyone you talk to, what you were told, and the date of the conversation.


Credit Bureaus

Equifax — www.equifax.com
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111
To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285/
TDD 800-255-0056 and write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian — www.experian.com
To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)/
TDD 800-972-0322 and write:
P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX 75013

TransUnion — www.transunion.com
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213
To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289/
TDD 877-553-7803; fax: 714-447-6034; emailor write: Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634-6790

For more information, see Fair Debt Collection from the FTC at www.consumer.gov

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Phone: (805) 485-5514
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