Identity Protection Resource Center

We are providing the following information and resources to help you respond to data breaches and protect yourself from and respond to incidents of identity theft.


Frequently Asked Questions



Background Information

A data breach is an incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data is sent to/received by an individual not authorized to have it.


Identity theft is a crime in which an unauthorized individual obtains key pieces of personal information, such as a Social Security Number and date of birth, and uses them to impersonate someone else.


A data breach means that someone has access to your data. Identity Theft is the when they use this data to impersonate someone else. Not all data breaches result in identity theft.


Phishing is a form of fraud in which someone tries to learn information such as passwords, log-in credentials or account information by masquerading as a reputable entity via e-mail, IM or other online communications.

Never click on links you don't trust and don't give out your personal information. Legitimate organizations do not typically ask for your information through texts, pop-up messages, or email. Scammers may call and pretend to be from the government or a business to try to get you to give them sensitive information. If a caller asks for your information, pause, and call back using a number you know to be legitimate.

The practices below can help you remain vigilant when it comes to identifying and steering clear of these scams.

• Avoid responding to emails, texts or phone calls asking for personal information or money, even if they appear to be from your bank, the IRS, or other companies or people you know and trust. Instead,

• Hover your mouse over the email address of the sender to determine if it is legitimate domain name. Be mindful, email addresses are no guarantee for security as criminals can use other people's email addresses.

• Visit the website of the institution directly.

• Call the number on the back of your credit card or other number you know to be legitimate to verify the request.

• Ask yourself if it makes sense for this institution or individual to contact you via email/phone.

• Do not download email attachments unless you know who sent them and what they contain.

• Only provide personal information over encrypted websites. Look for "https" addresses--the "s" stands for secure.

Learn more by going to the IRS Report Phishing and Online Scams page, Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information on Phishing, Social Security and SEC Information on Phishing.


Protecting My Identity

A fraud alert on your credit report notifies lenders and creditors who pull your report to take additional steps to verify your identity before opening you a line of credit or granting you a loan.

You may place a free 90-day fraud alert message on your credit file through one of the following credit reporting agencies Equifax (1-888-766-0008), Experian (1-888-397-3742) or TransUnion (1-800-680-7289). This can be done online or by calling. Once you place a fraud alert with one agency, they will share it with the other credit agencies. You do not need to contact all three agencies.


In order to place a seven year fraud alert you must personally be a victim of fraud or identity theft and must file an individual police report. You can then use this police report to add a seven year fraud alert to your credit report.


A credit freeze generally stops all access to your credit report, essentially locking down your credit, whereas a fraud alert permits creditors to get your report as long as they take additional steps to verify your identity. For example, if you provide a telephone number, the business must call you to verify whether you are the person making the credit request.

Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name, but they may not prevent misuse of your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.

The availability of a credit freeze depends on state law or a consumer reporting company's policies. Some states charge a fee for placing or removing a credit freeze, but it's free to place or remove a fraud alert.


That is your personal decision. A credit freeze may not stop misuse of your existing accounts or some other types of identity theft. Also, even with a credit freeze, companies that you do business with still have access to your credit report for select purposes.


Use complex passwords of 10-12 characters, combining letters, numbers, and special characters. Don't use something easily guessable for someone who knows you or has information about you. Don't repeat passwords for several accounts. For more information on how to choose a strong password, review the United States Computer Emergency Response Team's (US-CERT) tips for Choosing and Protecting Passwords.


Identity Theft Resources

Visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/Warning-Signs-of-Identity-Theft to learn about spotting the warning signs of identity theft.

Steps you should consider taking to protect your identity are:

• Place a free 90-day fraud alert message on your credit file through one of the following credit reporting agencies Equifax (1-888-766-0008), Experian (1-888-397-3742) or TransUnion (1-800-680-7289). This can be done online or by calling. Once you place a fraud alert with one agency, they will share it with the other credit agencies. Set a personal reminder to renew the alert every 90 days.

• Order a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com.

• Place a 90-Day Identity Theft Security Alert with ChexSystems. ChexSystems services a number of banks and credit unions to assess risk when opening new checking and savings accounts. There are two options for placing a 90-day Identity Theft Security Alert with ChexSystems: online at www.consumerdebit.com or calling 1-888-478-6536. Set a personal reminder to renew the alert every 90 days.

• Closely monitor all financial accounts including credit card accounts, checking, saving and investment accounts, 401(k), Social Security, etc.

For information about ways to protect yourself from identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft website.


If you believe you have been, or know you have been a victim of identity theft, visit www.IdentityTheft.gov to learn about next steps.

Steps you should consider taking are:

• Place a free 90-day fraud alert message on your credit file through one of the following credit reporting agencies Equifax (1-888-766-0008), Experian (1-888-397-3742) or TransUnion (1-800-680-7289). This can be done online or by calling. Once you place a fraud alert with one agency, they will share it with the other credit agencies. Set a personal reminder to renew the alert every 90 days.

• Order a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com.

• Place a 90-Day Identity Theft Security Alert with ChexSystems. ChexSystems services a number of banks and credit unions to assess risk when opening new checking and savings accounts. There are two options for placing a 90-day Identity Theft Security Alert with ChexSystems: online at www.consumerdebit.com or calling 1-888-478-6536. Set a personal reminder to renew the alert every 90 days.

• Closely monitor all financial accounts including credit card accounts, checking, saving and investment accounts, 401(k), Social Security, etc.


If someone is using your personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, take these steps as soon as possible:

• Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.

• Place a fraud alert on your credit report through one of the following credit reporting agencies Equifax (1-888-766-0008), Experian (1-888-397-3742) or TransUnion (1-800-680-7289). This can be done online or by calling. Once you place a fraud alert with one agency, they will share it with the other credit agencies. You do not need to contact all three agencies.

• File a report with your local police department and use this report to extend the fraud alert for seven years.

Depending on your situation, your next step may be to close accounts opened in your name, or report fraudulent charges to your credit card company. Visit www.IdentityTheft.gov for addition information.


If you are concerned about your child's identity being stolen, the Federal Trade Commission has information and resources to help.

In addition, each of the three credit reporting agencies have a process for monitoring their credit report.
https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/child-identity-theft-inquiry-form
https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html
https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/minor_child_warning.jsp


IRS Identity Theft Resources

Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return (typically an online return) in order to receive your tax refund. They may file a Federal return or a state return.


• The IRS notifies you in the event that they believe a fraudulent tax return has been filed.

• The IRS rejects your online tax return filing, claiming the return has already been filed.

• You receive a letter from the IRS that you owe additional tax, have a refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you, even though you have not filed a return yet.

• You receive a notice from the IRS stating that you received wages that you did not earn or you receive a Form W-2 or 1099 from an employer for whom you did not work.


You should carefully watch for letters from the IRS (not emails or phone calls) and should you receive one, promptly follow the instructions therein.

If your electronic filing has been rejected online (or if the IRS informs you that someone else has used your social security number), the IRS will instruct you to file a paper tax return. You then must submit IRS Form 14039. In Section A, you should check box #1. In the description of the incident, state that the IRS has notified you that someone has filed a fraudulent return using your or your spouse's Social Security Number.

Visit the IRS Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance website.


Order and review a copy of your IRS tax transcript. Call 1-800-908-9946 to receive your transcript by mail.


Yes.

The IRS will never:

• Initiate communication with taxpayers by e-mail, text message, telephone or social media; they will first contact you by postal mail for any legitimate inquiry

• Threaten arrest, deportation or loss of a driver's license

• Demand that you make immediate payments

• Ask you to wire money, share credit card information over the phone or pay with a prepaid money card

• For more information, go to the IRS Report Phishing and Online Scams page


That is your personal decision.

If you have not been informed by the IRS that you have an identity theft problem, filling out IRS Form 14039 is not required. If you are a victim of a data breach, you may choose to complete the affidavit. This informs the IRS that your information is at risk and advises the IRS that your income taxes may be impacted. Filing this form will delay your refund.

When filling out the form, check box #2 and use this suggested language in Section A: "My personal information is at risk due to a data breach." To complete the form (mail or fax), you must attach documentation such as a passport, driver's license, social security card, or another federal or state-issued government ID card to prove to the IRS that you are who you say you are.


You should file your state taxes each year as soon as possible. With respect to notification of possible identity theft, the Federation of Tax Administrators has a comprehensive list of all state tax agencies. Choose the state you file your taxes in and navigate to the appropriate form.


• You may choose to submit IRS Form 14039 - Identity Theft Affidavit , check Box 1. Use the following language: "I received a tax transcript from the IRS [insert date] that I did not request, therefore my personal information - including my social security number - was used by an unauthorized third-party to make this request." If you file a joint tax return, you may choose to file an IRS Form 14039 for your spouse/partner. Filing the form is your personal decision. If you have not been informed by the IRS that you have an identity theft problem, filling out IRS Form 14039 is not required. Filing this form will delay your refund.

• You may choose to reach out to your local police precinct and tell them that a third party used your personal and confidential information to request information from the IRS and you need to file an Identity Theft report. It is recommended that you bring the cover letter from the IRS and any other information other material that supports the fact that you are a victim of a data breach with you when you file the police report. The police report will document the personal fraud and makes it easier to correct problems caused by identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a memo that you can use to work with your local police department.

• If you have not already done so, place a free 90-day fraud alert message on your credit file through one of the following credit reporting agencies Equifax (1-888-766-0008), Experian (1-888-397-3742) or TransUnion (1-800-680-7289). This can be done online or by calling. Once you place a fraud alert with one agency, they will share it with the other credit agencies.

• You may utilize the police report to extend the fraud alert for seven years. After you receive a copy of the report, reach back out to each of the three credit agencies to extend the alert.


If you had your taxes filed fraudulently by someone other than yourself (or your tax preparer) you can request a redacted copy of the fraudulent return which was filed. Detailed instructions can be found here - "Instructions for Requesting Copy of Fraudulent Returns".