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What is Identity Theft?

Last Update: August 09 2012

As part of our ongoing commitment to keep our citizens informed about possible threats to their financial security, we would like to provide you with information regarding the growing problem of Identity Theft.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity Theft involves acquiring pieces of someone's personal information such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, and mother's maiden name, in order to assume the individual's identity. This information allows the Identity Thief to commit many types of fraud, which include purchasing automobiles, applying for loans, credit cards, apartment rentals, and establishing phone and utility services.

What can I do to prevent Identity Theft?

  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery and deposit mail (especially bill payments with checks enclosed) at secured mailbox sites, such as the Post Office. Request a vacation hold if you plan to be away from home.
  • Never give personal information over the telephone or internet such as your social security number, date of birth, any credit union or bank account numbers, etc. Provide them only for action you initiate.

    Remember, your financial institution should never contact you and request your account information. Any such calls should be reported to them immediately!
  • Shred pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts and any other financial information before throwing them away.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from the following credit reporting agencies at least once a year to check for fraudulent activities.

    Equifax: (800) 997-2493
    Experian (formerly TRW): (888) 397-3742
    TransUnion: (800) 916-8800
  • Never leave receipts behind at ATM machines, gas pumps, or in the trash.
  • If you applied for a new credit or debit card and it hasn't arrived in a timely manner, call the issuing institution and report it immediately.
  • Report all lost or stolen cards to the issuing institution immediately.
  • Beware of internet, mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions offering instant prizes or awards designed solely to obtain your personal or credit card numbers. Remember, a company offering a legitimate "free" vacation will not ask you for your credit card number or any monies up front!
  • Close all credit card or bank accounts that you do not use.
  • Minimize the identification information and number of credit cards you carry with you.
  • Do not carry your social security card on your person.
  • Be cautious with personal information if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having service work done in your home.

What do I do if I become the victim of Identity Theft?

  • Notify the police and file a complaint.
  • Alert any financial institutions you do business with to flag your accounts and to inform you of any unusual activity.
  • Contact your creditors to inform them of the problem.
  • Contact the three main credit bureaus' Fraud unit to report Identity Theft. Ask to have a "Fraud Alert Victim" statement put in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts.

    Equifax Fraud Unit: (800) 525-6285
    Experian Fraud Unit: (888) 397-3742
    TransUnion Fraud Unit: (877) IDTHEFT
  • Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud hotline at (800) 269-0271.
  • To flag your account so that counterfeit checks will be refused, call these check guarantee companies:

    Telecheck: (800) 366-2425
    International Check Services Company: (800) 526-5380
  • If fraudulent charges appear on your accounts, call the Consumer Credit Counseling Service at (800) 388-2227 for help in clearing false claims from your credit report.
  • Contact the DMV to see if another license was issued in your name. If so, request a new license number and fill out the DMV complaint form to start the investigation process.

For additional information, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or visit http://www.privacyrights.org

In 2003, former Attorney General Charlie Crist and FDLE launched a new web site designed to serve as the State of Florida’s official portal for identity theft information. The site contains a specially designed “Identity Theft Victim Kit” to assist Floridians in navigating through the process of rebuilding their good names. We encourage you to share this web site with citizens in your community and with identity theft victims. The site address is http://www.myfloridalegal.com/identitytheft

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One component of the victim kit will provide instructions for initiating an identity theft claim for victims who suspect that their criminal record information has been compromised. To address this issue, claimants will be instructed to complete the Compromised Identity Review Claim Form which includes (as part of the form) a requirement for fingerprinting by any local law enforcement agency. In order to maintain the integrity of this process, the local law enforcement agency will be responsible for mailing the completed from to FDLE in an official agency envelope where the claimant’s fingerprint will be used to verify the identity of the claimant/victim.

The FDLE will compare the claimant’s personal identifiers and submitted fingerprints against the identifiers and fingerprints contained in the Computerized Criminal History (CCH) files and Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) database. The FDLE will contact local law enforcement agencies as necessary to obtain information related to the arrest in which the victim claims his/her identity was fraudulently used by another individual.

If FDLE can verify, through a fingerprint comparison, that the claimant’s personal identifies have been used in a criminal record belonging to another person, FDLE will provide the claimant with a “Compromised Identity Certificate.” This certificate will be issued on security enhanced paper. If the CCH files do not indicate that the claimant has been a victim of identity theft, the FDLE will provide the claimant with an appropriate letter to that effect.