From a reader: I just received a post card from the Post Office. It said that they wanted to confirm that I was moving and had filed a change of address. I am not moving and I have not filed a change of address. How does this happen?
Action Line: It appears that someone has attempted to steal your identity. They try to divert your billing statements to another address by completing a change of address form.
Some of the most common ways ID theft happens are Dumpster diving, skimming, phishing, old-fashioned stealing or, in your case, filing a false change of address with the U.S. Postal Service. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your information on it. They steal credit/debit numbers by using special storage devices when you swipe your card for payment. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or popup messages to get you to reveal your personal information. They steal wallets and purses, mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and new checks or tax information.
What you should do: Notify the USPS that you did not file a change of address. You must act quickly.
Here is a list of things that the Federal Trade Commission advises that you can do to avoid ID theft:
Inspect your credit report. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history.
Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call (877) 322-8228. This is a service created by Equifax, Experian and Trans Union (major credit reporting companies) to order your free credit report each year. Or you can write to:
Annual Credit Report Request
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta GA 30348-5281
Inspect your financial statements. Review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.
If your identity has become compromised, you need to:
Close accounts. Close any account that has been tampered with or established fraudulently. Call the security or fraud department of each company where an account was opened or changed without your OK. Follow up in writing.
Use the ID Theft Affidavit at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations of the theft.
File a police report.
File a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
By phone: (877) 438-4338 or TTY (866) 653-4261/
By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, FTC, Washington, DC 20580.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.