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This FAQ is organized into 4 sections:
A. How do I respond to possible identity theft, or to someone stealing my credit card or bank account number?
B. How do I report Internet fraud, drive-by installs, hijacking, viruses, malware, theft of computer services or theft of telecommunications services?
C. How do I prevent identify theft and Internet fraud?
D. Other links
E. Phishing email (a type of scam email) is covered in the FAQ here »Security »Scam Email: What is Phishing? What do I do about it?

A. How do I respond to possible identity theft, or to someone stealing my credit card or bank account number?

Immediate action is important.

1. If a criminal may have your credit card number, use the credit card issuing company's 7/24 phone number to report the card "stolen" right now, day or night. Once that is done, return here to follow the other reporting steps.

In most jurisdictions, by reporting a credit card or card number as stolen as soon as you realize it has been stolen, you limit your liability for charges made on it.

2. Minimize the time the criminal has to work, so that the damage to your credit and the effort to restore your credit is minimized. Follow the other reporting steps promptly, no later than the morning of the next business day.

Different countries have different reporting steps, and these are given at the websites below. Generally, they involve:
(a) Contacting all of your country's central credit bureaus to place a "fraud alert" on your credit file.
(b) Closing any account that you know has been tampered with. This includes confirming that the credit cards or card numbers reported stolen in step 1 have been canceled and new cards with new numbers issued.
(c) If your checks or checking account numbers have been stolen, close the account and ask your bank to notify the appropriate check verification service.
(d) Filing a written report with your local police.
(e) Filing a report with central/federal agencies.
USA: FTC FTC ID Theft Input Form/

Do NOT wait for credit companies to phone you.

Do NOT wait for your monthly statements.

(f) If/when you later receive monthly statements for accounts you did not open, promptly follow the instructions for your country to notify those companies that you did not open the account. Print out and complete an Identity Theft Affidavit for each company using these forms:
US 'ID Theft' and 'Fraudulent Account Statement' Affidavits
Canada 'ID Theft' and 'Statement of Unauthorized Account Activity' Affidavits
These affidavits can be adapted for use in many other countries.

3. For possible identify theft, immediately follow the instructions on the web page for the country you reside in:

USA: FTC www.consumer.gov/idtheft/

Canada: »www.phonebusters.com/english/rec···the.html

Australia: »www.netalert.net.au/00625-What-i···heft.asp

B. How do I report Internet fraud, drive-by installs, hijacking, viruses, malware, theft of computer services or theft of telecommunications services?

1. If you are certain of the country the criminals reside in, use the website for that country. Otherwise, use the website for your own country.

For economic crimes, like computer crime, the total amount of damaged caused to victims is used to prioritize investigations and to determine sentencing. Be certain to mention any damages (economic loss, time wasted, etc.) due to the crime.

USA: DHS (virus, malware and hijacking type crimes) »forms.us-cert.gov/report/index.php
USA: FBI (fraud and theft type crimes) »www.ic3.gov/

Australia: »www.netalert.net.au/00311-Austra···ntre.asp



You can also use those links to report websites that you strongly suspect are being used to commit these sorts of crime.

There are more reporting links here:

2. If you have lost money, or suffered possible identity theft, make a report to your local police.

When you file a police report, to later complete the ID Theft Affidavits you will need the Officer's name, badge number, phone number, police force name, report number and report date. Ask if you can have a copy of the report to attach to the ID Theft Affidavits for your creditors and others.

Do not use any compromised or hacked computers, especially not to check on your accounts, until you are certain they have been cleaned of any trojans and keystroke loggers.

C. How do I prevent identify theft and Internet fraud?

* At merchant sites, pay by credit card only.
- There is legislation limiting your liability in the event your credit card number is stolen.
- This legislation does not limit your liability for debit cards, bank accounts or other payment accounts and methods.
- However, you can safely use your bank's website to pay bills.
* Sign all credit cards when you receive them.
* Never loan your credit cards to anyone.
* Cancel credit cards you do not use.
* Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards, and any discrepancies in your monthly statements, to the credit card issuing company.
* Never leave receipts at bank machines, on counters or at unattended gasoline pumps; ensure you destroy paperwork you no longer need.
* Never provide personal information such as Social Security Number (Social Insurance Number in Canada), date of birth, credit card numbers or PIN over the telephone unless you initiate the call.
* Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. Do not leave mail lying around your residence or work.
* Shred or destroy pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bills and similar papers when no longer needed.
* Avoid keeping a written record of your bank PIN number(s) and computer passwords, and never keep this information in your wallet or hand bag.
* Memorize your SSN. Take your SSN card out of your wallet and store it in a safe place at home.
* Avoid mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions or surveys offering instant prizes or awards. Sometimes these are designed merely to obtain your personal details.
* Be aware that telephone caller-id information can be faked/spoofed.
* Follow the steps to resist the Internet identify theft technique "phishing" What is Phishing? What do I do about it? In particular, expect that any legitimate email about your accounts will include your name, account number and other details.

D. Other links:

* What is Phishing? What do I do about it?
* I think my computer is infected or hijacked. What should I do?
* How do I avoid online Credit/Debit card fraud?
* Anti-Phishing Working Group
* Fraud.org
* Scambusters.org
* Cyber Criminals Most Wanted LLC
* Department of Justice Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (US)
* Privacy Rights Clearing House (US, but fact sheet 17A is useful for anyone anywhere)
* Privacy Rights Clearing House: How to prevent identity theft (US, but useful for anyone anywhere)
* ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name (US FTC)
* Identity Theft Q&A Government of Canada
* Identity Theft Consumer Advice Government of Australia
* ScamWatch New Zealand

(If you know the URL for a central website for identify theft or Internet fraud complaints in other countries where BBR members live, please let Keith2468 know by Instant Message.)


Updated US government reporting links.

2006-01-02 by Keith2468
Updated US government reporting links.

01 July 2005
Added UK links.
28 May 2005
Added link to Crimes-of-Persuasion.com.
25 Apr 2005
Be aware that telephone caller-id information can be faked.
25 Feb 2005
Added "C. How do I prevent identify theft and Internet fraud?"

Feedback received on this FAQ entry:
  • The Australian contacts are from various States or Territories and not that useful overall as they're State or Territory specific. Maybe you could put up links with appropriate info re identity theft that are issued by the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Taxation Department and the Australian Cometition & Consumer Commission as these are agencies that cover the whole of Australia.

    2012-09-09 14:38:38

  • Hello, I was taking a look at your great website and I noticed that one of the links (Identity Theft Resources - http://www.dslreports.com/faq/10451) you suggest isn't working properly. The link in question is this one: http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/. You'll find a similar resource published here: http://www.criminal-justice-careers.com/crime/id-theft.html. Please feel free to replace the broken link with the new resource. I know that it takes a lot of time keeping any website up-to-date, and I hope you'll find this helpful. Keep up the good work! Best regards, Jennifer Moore

    2010-09-09 12:08:34

  • The link in B.1. for the UK is outdated and needs amended... Your current link, http://www.nhtcu.org/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=12347 takes you to http://www.nhtcu.org which has the message... "Notice from Owner: It has come to our attention that the ownership of this site has been the subject of media interest and controversy. This domain name was purchased with the best intentions and was originally found on RegisterComapss.com. We have no fixed intentions for this domain at present and would welcome any ideas or suggestions about how it might be best used." To their credit they also have a link on the same page for the "Serious Organised Crime Agency" [SOCA], www.soca.gov.uk , which when formed the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit [NHTCU] became part of... "What happened to the National High Tech Crime Unit Like other precursor organisations, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) became part of SOCA when the organisation was launched in April. SOCA takes e-crime seriously and the NHTCU has evolved into a dedicated unit within SOCA to tackle the problem. The Unit has more people, more resources and a bigger budget than its predecessor. It brings together experts from different organisations under one roof and gives this important issue more focus with less potential for overlaps. However, we also recognise that hi-tech techniques are used across the whole range of organised criminality, not just by specialised ‘hi-tech criminals’. That is why our e-Crime Unit is integrated into SOCA, providing the specialist knowledge and techniques needed to fight today’s organised criminal enterprises." Source: http://www.soca.gov.uk/faqs/index.html HTH.

    2009-08-14 15:13:54

  • All Links for reporting possible Identity theft in Australia do not go anywhere. Can you please update this information.

    2009-07-23 09:05:39

Expand got feedback?

by keith2468 See Profile edited by JMGullett See Profile
last modified: 2007-07-25 15:37:50