– To empower the public during National
Consumer Protection Week, the State Division
of Consumer Affairs today offers information
on how consumers can protect themselves
against identity theft, which remains the
most common Internet crime in New Jersey.
are here to help consumers push back against
criminals who seek to profit by stealing
the personal information and ruining the
credit of hard-working New Jersey citizens.
People can protect themselves by carefully
checking their bills and credit statements,
refusing to give out personal information,
and staying in touch with their banks and
creditors,” Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting
Director of the State Division of Consumer
theft was the most common Internet crime
reported last year in New Jersey, according
to the 2010 Internet Crime Report issued
by the joint FBI/National White Collar Crime
Center’s Internet Crime Complaint
Center (IC3). The 2010 report noted some
2,300 identity theft complaints from New
Jersey, with a median loss of $740 per complaint.
consumers can take basic steps to protect
themselves, such as:
In a safe place, keep a list of all your
account numbers, credit card numbers with
expiration dates, and the phone numbers
of your creditors.
Carefully review your bank statements
and bills. Contact the sender immediately
if you see unauthorized activity. Contact
the creditors if your usual bills don’t
arrive on time.
Do not reply to email notices that request
personal or account information –
even if they look legitimate and professional.
Don’t call any phone numbers or
click any web links on an unfamiliar email;
instead, find the correct phone number
or web address yourself.
Do not give personal or account information
over the phone to telemarketers. If you
wish to donate to a charity or make a
purchase, ask them to send you a bill
Do not give your credit card information
over the phone unless you initiated the
call and have a trusting relationship
with the company you have called.
When making a purchase or donation over
the Internet, provide your credit card
number only after you have established
that the website is a valid one that is
controlled and maintained by a company
you trust. Review the company’s
privacy statements to learn how it uses
your personal information.
Shred all mail that has personal or account
information before disposing. This includes
pre-approved credit offers that arrive
Check your credit report. Under the federal
Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers may
request a free credit report from each
of the three credit reporting agencies
once every 12 months. Consumers may visit
or call 877-322-8228
to receive a copy of their credit reports.
If your wallet, credit cards, or checks
Cancel your credit and debit cards if
they are stolen.
Report the theft to police where the incident
If your driver’s license was stolen,
contact the Motor Vehicle Commission.
Find out how to replace your license,
and alert the MVC that someone may attempt
to use your identification.
Contact one of the three credit bureaus*
and file a fraud alert. Fraud alerts usually
last 90 days. They let vendors know you
may be a victim of identity theft, and
that they should verify your identity
before issuing any new credit in your
If you become a victim of identity theft:
Contact one of the three credit bureaus*
and file for extended fraud-alert protection.
This protection lasts up to seven years.
To obtain an extended fraud alert, you
must provide the credit bureaus with a
valid police report showing that you have
been a victim of identity theft.
Review your credit reports periodically
and report any suspicious activity to
the credit reporting bureaus.
Consider initiating a security freeze
on your credit report. This will block
potential creditors from accessing your
credit information, which will make it
difficult for identity thieves to open
new credit cards or obtain new loans in
your name. To do this, you must contact
each of the three credit bureaus* separately.
However, if you need to have your credit
checked in order to open a new bank account
or for other purposes, you would need
to call all three credit bureaus in order
to lift the credit freeze in advance.
The three credit bureaus are Equifax at
800-525-6285 or www.equifax.com;
Experian at 888-397-3742
and Trans Union at 800-680-7289
more information from the State Division
of Consumer Affairs:
Consumer Protection Week (NCPW)
is a coordinated campaign that encourages
consumers nationwide to take full advantage
of their consumer rights and make better-informed
decisions. NCPW 2011 takes place March 6
through 12, 2011.
information designed to help consumers protect
themselves is offered free of charge at
the State Division of Consumer Affairs NCPW
website at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov
. Information is also available at the official
National Consumer Awareness Week website,
who believe they have been cheated or scammed
by a business, or suspect any other form
of consumer abuse, can file a complaint
with the State Division of Consumer Affairs
by visiting its website, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov,
or by calling 1-800-242-5846
(toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.