Houston - Identity theft
Giving your credit card number over the phone or the Internet is a daily occurrence on the United States, but be sure you are talking to a legitimate merchant, or if the transaction takes place online that you are on a secure site.
In case you experience fraud, call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number (SSN). The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new lines of credit.
The numbers are:
Tel: 1 800 525 6285
Experian (formerly TRW)
Tel: 1 800 301 7195
Tel: 1 800 680 7289
Social Security Administration fraud line
Tel: 1 800 269 0271
Export Import Bank of the United States
Learn more about countermeasures about this crime at Federal Trade commission webpage
Precautions to avoid identity theft
Do not show anybody important personal information (such as your bank account numbers, credit card numbers, pin codes or personal identity number, date of birth, insurance policy numbers, passport number etc) unless absolutely necessary (such as filling in tax forms, opening bank accounts, applying for benefits, employment records etc)
Do not carry your passport, birth certificate or extra credit cards with you except when necessary. Make sure you keep your passport in a safe place.
Keep a copy of all valuable personal documentation in a safe place. Also, make a copy of everything you keep in your wallet (such as driver license, credit cards, etc.)
Put a lock on your mailbox and do not let the mail stay in your box for too long.
Have your name removed from marketing lists and arrange to stop advertising material being sent to your mailbox (ask at the post office).
Never leave behind receipts, especially those from cash points (ATMs), petrol stations and other credit card payments. Do not throw them in public litter bins.
Bank Accounts and Credit Card
Make sure you keep track of the information on your bank statements and all activities on your
accounts. Check with your bank/finance institution immediately if you suspect irregularities.
Do not keep your pin codes in your wallet.
If your wallet is stolen, cancel your credit cards immediately. File a police report in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation.
Register all your credit cards with a card protection plan. With your credit card contract, you should have an insurance that covers fraudulent money withdrawals. Most credit-card companies have an emergency number you can call if your card is lost or stolen. The service may include wiring you a cash advance or providing you with a replacement card.
Nowadays you can link all your accounts together, and if you and your partner have separate accounts you may be able to arrange with your bank to have your partner's credit limit lifted if your cards are stolen.
Ask your bank, credit card company, telephone company and utility companies to place passwords or extra security protection on your accounts.
Create unpredictable pin codes and passwords and change them regularly. Do not give your pin number to anyone.
It is NOT wise to send your credit card information via email as that is not a secure source.
Update your virus protection regularly, as viruses can steal files with personal information that you may keep in your computer.
Do not download files from people you do not know.
Install filters and a fire wall programme on your PC, especially if you have a high speed connection (DSL), to protect against hackers.
Do not store personal financial information on your computer and use a low limit credit card for online transactions.