Eastern District of Missouri ID Theft Task Force

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Frequently asked questions

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Credit Bureaus & Reports
Police Reports
Is It a Scam or Not?
Social Security Numbers
U.S. Mail/USPS Change of Address Information


When am I entitled to a FREE credit report?
You are entitled to a free credit report after the denial of credit, if you believe you are the victim of identity theft, if you receive welfare benefits or if you are unemployed. Section 501 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act states that consumer reporting agencies, upon the request of a consumer, will make all disclosures once during any 12 month period without charge to the consumer. Visit annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus.

Do I need to contact each of the 3 credit bureaus when I become a victim of a financial crime?
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, when you place a call to one of the 3 major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert or victim statement on your report, that alert or statement will also be placed on your credit reports with the other 2 credit bureaus. Here are the links for the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

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Why is it important to file a police report?
Filing a police report with your local or state police is important because it provides authorities with a concise statement of the crime that has occurred and lets creditors or businesses know that you are serious about resolving the issue. In addition, many creditors require a police report to resolve your dispute and credit bureaus will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and bad debts from appearing on your credit report. Click here to locate contact info for your local law enforcement agencies.

What do I do if my local police tell me that they can't file a police report for identity theft outside of their jurisdiction?
A resolution by the International Association of Chiefs of Police has mandated that the area in which you live is the proper place to file your report. Stress to the police that even if they cannot investigate the crime, you still need a report to provide to creditors or credit bureaus to block your accounts or resolve disputes. Your local police department also should have access to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel database, which lists other complaints and patterns of financial crime in your area.

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How can I tell the difference between a scam and a legitimate offer or business opportunity?
No advice is better than the old saying, "if it sounds too good to be true than it probably is!" When was the last time you won money from a lottery that you never played? Why is it that people whom you've never met suddenly want to transfer millions of dollars to you? How come someone will pay triple your price for an item on Ebay and ask you to return the excess payment? Because in all of these instances you are being solicited to take part in a scam and criminals know that the thought of easy money will force a small minority of unsuspecting consumers to let their guard down. Visit LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com for some of the latest scams.

If you are unsure of an offers legitimacy, do your homework and ask plenty of questions either to the representative on the phone or via email. Be wary of offers that rush you into making a decision or that ask you to "keep this a secret." Look for grammatical errors or untruths, and words like "no-risk" or "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." Contact the Eastern District of Missouri ID Theft Task Force, the Federal Trade Commission, or your local Better Business Bureau, to see whether they have ever heard of the offer or received similiar complaints.

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Who has a right to request my social security number?
Only a handful of agencies or companies have a legal right to ask you for your social security number. These include the Internal Revenue Service, your state Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Welfare. In addition, your banks, financial insititutions and those companies which provide you credit may also request your social security number. Other than that, you should question any other company or agency which asks you for your social security number.

What should I do if my social security number is misused?
In addition to contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency, make sure you contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or write to the SSA Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235. For more information regarding social security card fraud you can visit the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General Website.

Can I be issued a new social security number?
Under certain circumstances you can be issued a new social security number but there are no guarantees that this number won't be misused as well. While you may resolve your current problem, a new social security number may affect your ability to get approved for new credit. Furthermore, credit bureaus may simply combine your credit history from your old social security number with your new number. Consider these circumstances carefully before contacting the Social Security Administration.

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How can I be sure that identity thieves are not forwarding my mail without my knowledge?
In April 1996, the Postal Service implemented a process to circumvent the fraudulent submission of change-of-address orders. The Customer Notification (Move Validation) Letter is a notification to postal customers who have submitted change-of address (COA) orders (PS Form 3575, Change of Address Order). The notification is mailed to Postal Service customers at their old address and includes details of the COA order, providing customers an opportunity to verify the COA information on file with the Postal Service. If a potentially fraudulent situation exists, the customer is instructed to contact the local Post Office for assistance. For more information on filing a change of address visit the U.S. Postal Service Online Movers Guide.

Answer taken from the 2003 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations, USPS.

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