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Identity Theft

What is identity theft?

Identity theft happens when a criminal obtains data that personally identifies you and then uses that information for an illegal purpose.  Criminals can use a victim's identity to obtain credit and credit cards, steal money from existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with utility companies, rent an apartment, file for bankruptcy, obtain a job, or commit countless other crimes using the victim's name.  It can take months or years for a victim to realize their identity has been stolen, and then years and a significant amount of money to rectify the problem. 

How a thief gets your information

Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to gain access to your personal information. For example:

  • They rummage through your trash, or the trash of businesses or dumps.
  • They steal credit and debit card numbers as your card is processed by using a special information storage device.
  • They steal wallets and purses containing identification and credit and bank cards.
  • They steal incoming or outgoing mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information, or checks made payable for balances due on existing accounts. 
  • They scam information from you by posing as a legitimate business person or government official.
  • They overhear your conversations at your desk, the bank, retail outlets or anywhere else you might be asked for personal information.

What to do if you're a victim

  • Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Tell them you are an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file. At the same time, order copies of your credit reports.
    • To order your report: (800) 685-1111
    • To place a fraud alert: (888) 766-0008
    • TDD (800) 255-0056
    • Write: Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    • To order your report call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    • To report fraud, call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    • TDD (800) 972-0322
    • Write: Experian, P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX 75013
  • TransUnion:
    • To order your report, call: (800) 888-4213
    • To report fraud, call: (800) 680-7289
    • TDD (877)553-7803
    • Fax: (714) 447-6034
    • Write: Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634-6790
  • Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Creditors can include credit card companies, phone companies and other utilities, banks and other lenders.
  • File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Obtain a copy of all police reports.
  • Report it to the US Postal Service or the local post office if the theft involves stolen or tampered mail
  • Contact Social Security Fraud if your Social Security Number was used
    • SSA DATA OPS P.O. Box 7004 Wilkes Barre, PA 18767
    • Hotline (800)269-0271 
  • Contact the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles if your driver's license number has been used.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus at least once a year.
  • Report any fraudulent use of your checks:
    • Check Rite/Global Payments
      • (800) 638-4600
    • SCAN
      • (800) 262-7771
    • Tele-Check
      • (800) 710-9898
    • Chex Systems
      • (800) 328-5121