Yourself From Identity Theft
Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit has tools available
to help victims of identity theft address their problems, and to
help all consumers protect themselves from identity thieves.
theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, affecting
nearly ten million Americans a year, and Marylanders
are not immune. Examples of identity theft include when a thief
uses your personal identifying information to open credit accounts
in your name or evade criminal liability. Identity thieves can
obtain your personal information by:
wallets and purses
a “change of address” form to divert
your mail to another location
- “Dumpster Diving” for documents with personal information
- “Phishing” or
sending e-mails that appear to be from legitimate businesses
asking for consumer's personal information
- “Skimming” or
using special storage devices to steal your credit or debit
card number when they process your card.
- “Pretexting” or using false pretenses to obtain your information from your
bank, phone company, or even you.
files from businesses where they are a customer or employee,
or by hacking into electronic files.
The Identity Theft Unit can give you step-by-step advice on how
to protect yourself from ID thieves using, or continuing to use,
your personal information. We may also be able to help you to address
some of the issues that identity theft causes, such as dealing
with credit card companies or collection agencies.
You may contact the Identity Theft Unit by calling (410) 576-6491
or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:
- A new law that took effect Jan. 1, 2013 enables parents and legal guardians to place a security freeze on their minor child's credit records that would prevent identity thieves from opening credit accounts in the child's name. For more information on how to submit freeze requests to each of the three major credit reporting agencies, see http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2012/122712a.html.
your credit report from each of the three credit reporting
agencies twice per year. You can stagger them so you are looking
at a fresh report every two months. Under Maryland and federal
law, you are entitled to two FREE credit reports from each of
the Credit Reporting Agencies each year. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or
call 1-877-322-8228 to access your report through the federal
Fair Credit Reporting Act. You must contact each of the three
Credit Reporting Agencies individually to access your credit
report under Maryland law:
passwords and PIN numbers for your credit card, bank, and phone
a safe to secure personal information in your home.
carry your social security card, bank account PIN or other
sensitive information with you -- leave it at home in a secure
give out your Social Security number unless it is absolutely
necessary –- ask for
a randomly generated ID number.
give out your personal information over the phone, through
the mail, or over the Internet unless you initiated
contact or know you can trust the person on the
a shredder and destroy any documents that contain personal
information instead of throwing them away. This
includes credit card offers you receive in the mail, bank statements, phone
of pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (567-8688)
and junk mail by writing to the direct marketing association
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
a locking mailbox to prevent mail theft.
wary of e-mail scams. If you did not enter an international
lottery, it is unlikely
that you won anything...
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Click here for our comprehensive guide to identity theft.
Identity Theft Passports for Victims
One of the tools we can offer you is an Identity Theft Passport.
The Passport is a tool that may help you resolve financial issues
caused by identity theft, and may help prevent a wrongful arrest
if a thief uses your personal identifying information during
the commission of a crime. To obtain a Passport, you must fill
out and submit an application to the Identity Theft Unit. It
is very important that you include a copy of a police report
regarding the crime committed against you, as well as a photocopy
of your Maryland Driver's License or other State-issued
identification card. We will conduct a background check to verify
your identity and the details of the crime, so please include
any other supporting documents that you may have. Court documents,
financial account statements or your credit report will be very
helpful in speeding up the approval process. Once we determine
whether you are eligible for a passport, we will contact you
to provide you with instructions on how to activate your Passport
and answer any questions you may have.
Click here to fill out the
application online, or to download the application.
A “security freeze” or “credit freeze” completely blocks
the information on your credit report from would-be creditors. A credit freeze
can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not open credit accounts
without first checking a consumer's credit history. If your credit files are
frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number might not
be able to get credit in your name. Maryland law prohibits credit reporting
agencies from charging more than $5 per credit freeze. Anyone who is a victim
of identity theft will be able to freeze his or her credit reports for free.
here for a guide to freezing your credit report.
Federal Trade Commission has useful information on it's identity
theft website, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft for
Identity Theft Resource Center is a non-profit organization that
provides victim support and consumer education, visit them
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a non-profit organization specializing
in consumer education, visit www.privacyrights.org.
Contact the Identity Theft Unit:
Fax: (410) 576-6566
St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202