How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have severe effects on your credit and security. Identity thieves scour the Internet and the phone lines looking for ways to access personal information and “phishing” for information through fraudulent emails, pop-up advertisements, websites and phone calls. Here are some ways you can ensure that you are protected from fraud and identity theft:

  • Don’t give out personal information in response to an unsolicited request. Be wary of “phishing” schemes. Phishing is when fraudsters contact you posing as anything from a financial institution to a utility or government agency, and request personal information. Often these requests look and feel like the real thing. If you did not initiate the contact, don’t give out any information. If you are unsure if a request is legitimate, end contact and call the institution directly to verify who is making the request. Read this brochure on what "phishing" is, how to fight identity theft and what to do if you fall victim to identity theft. 
  • Every 12 months you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). Take advantage of these reports to ensure that there are no errant transactions or incorrect information on your report.
  • Create passwords and pin numbers that are hard to replicate. For your Online Banking sign-on, or your debit card pin #, avoid common information such as your date of birth or mother’s maiden name. It is best to memorize your passwords, but if you must maintain written copies ensure that they are in a secure place
  • For Businesses: Read these FTC Facts for Businesses for information on the risk of identity theft

If you believe you have already been a victim of identity theft here are some steps to follow:

  • Immediately contact REALTORS® Federal Credit Union, A Division of Northwest Federal Credit Union at 866.295.6038 and report the ID theft.
  • Close accounts that you know have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  • Contact Equifax, Experian and Trans Union and have a “fraud alert” placed on your file. You can also have messages placed on your reports that ensure that no additional credit is issued without your written consent.
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
    • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
  • Contact the security departments of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions for all accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened. Work with them to take the appropriate action by either closing accounts and opening new ones or changing security information as necessary. 
  • File a police report with your local department or where the fraud took place. Be sure to keep a copy of the report for your records and for supplying to creditors.
  • Complete an ID Theft Affidavit and send it to the companies you have credit disputes with to help solve any issues with your account.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Call the Identity Theft number at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) or visit ftc.gov/idtheft. They can be helpful in solving crime and providing advice. You can also call for information from the general Federal Hotline, 1-800-FED-INFO.