Identity Theft

Dear New Yorker:

Besides a general desire for personal privacy and to be "left alone," there are very legitimate reasons why people act to decrease the personal information easily accessible about themselves.

The fastest growing financial crime in the nation -- "identity theft" -- is one important reason. Identity theft is when someone uses your personal identification information, such as your credit card number or social security number, to obtain something of value.

It takes very little to have your identity stolen. Only a few pieces of information can give a thief the ability to, for example, get a credit card in your name and leave you to deal with the bills.

If you believe someone has been using your name or personal information to make purchases, to get credit, or to obtain employment, you need to act right away to protect yourself.

Depending on your specific situation, our office has developed the following recommendations for your immediate action. If you have any further concerns, please contact our consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.


Immediately  contact the creditor associated with the fraudulent activity both by telephone and then with a follow-up letter expressly stating the problem.

  • Lost or Stolen Credit Cards: Federal law limits your liability to $50 for unauthorized charges to your account.
  • Lost or Stolen ATM/Debit Cards: Federal law provides that your liability for unauthorized debits is limited to $50 so long as you report the loss of the card  within two business days of discovering that it's missing. Otherwise, your liability increases to $500 for reporting it within 60 days. If you fail to report it within that period, however, your liability could be  unlimited.

Once you report the loss of the credit or debit card, you can't be held responsible for any additional unauthorized charges.

Fraudulent Charges on your Monthly Statements: If you believe there are fraudulent or erroneous charges on your existing credit account, contact your creditor immediately. Federal regulations require credit card companies to remove disputed items from your bill in order to investigate. It is important to note, however, that all disputes must be put in writing.

Password Accounts: If you have closed a credit card account due to fraud and have opened a new account - insist on password-only accounts.

Credit Bureaus

Immediately call the fraud help lines of each of the three major credit bureaus to inform them of the situation. Be sure to tell the credit bureaus to flag your file with a  fraud alert including a statement that creditors should call you for permission before opening any new accounts in your name.

Trans Union Fraud Victim Assistance Department 
P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016-2000
Phone: (800) 680-7289

Experian Consumer Fraud Assistance 
P.O. Box 9556, Allen, TX 75013 
(888) 397-3742

Equifax Consumer Fraud Division 
P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
(800) 525-6285

Under federal law, victims of fraud are entitled to receive  a free copy of their credit reports. It is advisable that you exercise this right immediately.

Inquire into the credit bureau's procedures for having a statement attached to fraudulent information in your file so that future potential creditors are aware of this.

Place a security freeze on your file to prevent further damage to your credit history.

Law Enforcement

Report any fraudulent activity to the appropriate police and sheriff departments with jurisdiction in your area. Be sure to keep a copy of the police report because financial institutions often require verification that there was a purported crime before they will continue an investigation.

The  Federal Trade Commission offers assistance to identity theft victims at (877) IDTHEFT or

Stolen Checks

If you believe any of your checks have been stolen or fraudulently used, immediately notify your bank. Have them put "stop-payment-orders" on your checks and consider closing out all existing bank accounts and then opening new accounts with new account numbers.

Also, report stolen or fraudulent use of checks to:

Telecheck: (800) 710-9898 
CheckRite: (800) 766-2748 
Equifax: (800) 525-6285
ChexSystems: (800) 428-9623
International Check Services: (800) 526-5380 
SCAN: (800) 262-7771 
NPC: (800) 526-5380

Social Security Number

If you believe someone has used your Social Security Number to get a job, contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 to confirm all reported earnings information. To report fraudulent use of a social security number, call (800) 269-0271.

U.S. Postal Service

For complaints about products or information received through the U.S. Postal Service, or if you believe your mail has been stolen or someone has submitted a fraudulent change-of-address form, write to:

Mail Fraud 
Chief of Postal Inspector Service 
475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20260-2181



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