TrustLink Reviews

Identity Theft Tips

Click the following link to watch an important video presentation from the FDIC:

Don't Be an On-line Victim
"How to Guard Against Internet
Thieves and Electronic Scams

Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

Order your checks with only your initials on them. Do not have your full name printed. If a check or checkbook gets stolen, the thief will not know if you sign your checks with your first name or just your initials.

Use your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone.

Use your PO Box on your checks instead of your home address if you have one. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address.

Never have your Social Security Number printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

Do not sign the back of your credit cards, gas cards, or debit cards. Instead, write out. "PHOTO ID REQUIRED". By doing this; anyone that may try to fraudulently use them they must show a photo ID, which will not work.

When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For or Memo" line. Instead; just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

Place the contents of your wallet or purse on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.


If You Suspect ID Theft or Become a Victim

  • Cancel your credit cards immediately. Make sure you have the phone numbers and credit card numbers readily available. This is where making copies of everything in your purse or wallet comes in. Keep those where you can find them.
  • File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
  • Call the 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and Trans-Union immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number. 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 credit. In addition, it will prevent the credit bureaus from reporting any negative information due to the id theft on your credit reports.
  • Document Everything! Make notes of all conversations you had with merchants, banks, police, and/or anyone you spoke to regarding the identity theft. Send all correspondence via certified mail and keep all receipts. This will come in handy because you will probably need it to prove your case.
  • Continually monitor your credit reports and look for accounts you are unaware of, inquiries that you do not recall authorizing, and/or any other suspicious activity. Once you have placed a fraud alert with the credit bureaus you are entitled to periodic free credit reports, depending on the severity of the ID theft. You are also legally entitled having the fraudulent activity removed from your report until the investigation is complete.

How to place a fraud alert on your credit report

  • If you have received notice that your personal information may have been exposed, you are advised to place a "fraud alert" on your credit file with the three major credit bureaus. This is a free service that will request creditors to verify your identity before opening a new account.
  • You may place an Initial 90-day Fraud Alert by calling any one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. The agency that accepts your request will share your request with the other two credit reporting companies, which will add the alert to your file or request that you provide them additional information. You will receive a confirmation when an alert is added to your file. You may also request a free credit report from each of the three agencies.
  • Choose one of the credit bureaus from the contact information below. Experian allows you to file a fraud alert online or by telephone; Equifax and Trans Union require you to call.

*Please note that your initial call to the credit bureau will be to an automated system. With your copy of the credit report, you will receive another phone number that will allow you to discuss anything unusual with a representative.



You can place a fraud alert with Experian online by going to the Experian Credit Fraud Center.

To place a fraud alert with Experian by phone:

  • Dial 1-888-397-3742.
  • Select option 2 ("all other" requests not related to credit management tool).
  • Select option 2 ("if not" wanting to listen to 8 minute recording of CA Civil Code Section 1785.10).
  • Select option 3 ("if you believe that your credit information is being used fraudulently").
  • Select option 2 ("to add an alert to your credit file using an automated system").
  • Select option 1 ("add a temporary initial fraud security alert". There are other options for 7-year extended victim alert and active duty at this point).
  • Select option 2 ("to continue to the automated alert system" which then asks for your social security number).



To place a fraud alert with Equifax, you must do so by phone. You cannot place a fraud alert with Equifax online.

To place a fraud alert with Equifax by phone:

  • Dial 1-800-525-6285 (this number is specifically for placing a fraud alert).
  • Select option 1 (to place a fraud alert).
  • Follow instructions.

Trans Union


To place a fraud alert with Trans Union, you must do so by phone. You cannot place a fraud alert with Trans Union online.

To place a fraud alert with Trans Union by phone:

  • Dial 1-800-680-7289.
  • Enter your zip code.
  • DO NOT press 1 or say 1 to listen to the summary.
  • Wait for the next option.
  • Press 1 or say 1 for Fraud Alert options.

You should also request a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. When you receive your credit reports, review them carefully. Look especially for these indicators of possible fraudulent activity:

        • Unfamiliar accounts, especially ones that have been newly opened.

        • Unauthorized charges to existing accounts.

        • Addresses that you have not lived at

Facts About Fraud Alerts
Before you add a fraud alert to your credit report, be aware of these effects:

  • You may be asked to provide proof of your identification when applying for instant credit. In some cases, the presence of a fraud alert may limit your ability to receive instant credit for in-store purchases that you plan to take possession of immediately.
  • Creditors may contact you by phone at a designated number before opening a new account
  • A fraud alert should not interfere with the daily use of credit cards or banking or checking accounts.
  • The length of time that an alert stays on your record varies for each credit bureau. You can request an extension when the initial period has ended.


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