What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when an individual or a group of individuals gains access to your personal data, such as Social Security number, birth date, credit card numbers, bank account information etc. They may then choose to use this information fraudulently, possibly affecting your credit and financial history and future.
How do identity thieves work?
Identity thieves may work in the following ways:
- They may open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
- They may call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there's a problem.
- They may establish cellular phone service in your name.
- They may open a bank account in your name and write a bad check on that account.
- They may use your identity as if it were their own, often committing crimes and hurting other people.
The University would like to emphasize that, at the current time, there is no evidence that any of the data is being used illegally.
How do I reach the credit reporting agencies?
The credit reporting agencies are available 24/7 and can be reached at the following numbers, Web sites and addresses:
Equifax: (800) 525-6285
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
Experian: (888) 397-3742
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
How do I issue a fraud alert and what should I say when I call?
Call one of the credit reporting agencies listed above to issue a fraud alert. Once the alert has been issued with one of the three credit agencies, they will alert the other two. YOU DO NOT NEED TO ALERT ALL THREE!
We recommend you alert a major credit reporting agency that there may be a compromise to your personal information, to include your names and Social Security number. Phone prompts will guide you through the process to place a fraud alert on your account.
An initial 90-day alert will then be placed on your account, free of charge. You may extend this fraud alert to a 7-year alert by writing a letter to the credit reporting agencies. You may issue consecutive 90-day alerts, if do not want to issue a 7-year alert.
By issuing a fraud alert, is my credit affected?
By issuing a fraud alert, it does not change your credit rating. However, when applying for extended credit (for example, mortgages, car loans, credit cards etc.) you will have to actively prove your identity to the credit reporting agencies. The credit reporting agencies can provide you with more information regarding these activities.
Is there a cost to issuing a fraud alert?
How long does the alert stay on the report?
An initial 90-day alert will be placed on your account, free of charge. It is possible to extend this fraud alert to a 7-year alert by writing a letter to the credit reporting agencies. You may issue consecutive 90-day alerts if you do not want to issue a 7-year alert.
Do I need to contact the Social Security Administration?
You only need to contact the Social Security Administration if you are currently a Social Security beneficiary. They can post a message to your account indicating that your Social Security number may be compromised. You do not need to contact the SSA if you do not receive Social Security benefits.