Identity Theft Resource Center

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when someone uses another person’s identity for their own gain. They obtain vital data – Social Security Number, credit card account numbers, date and place of birth or driver’s license number. These they use to obtain fraudulent credit cards, bank accounts or driver’s licenses. Click here to learn what you should do if you have accidentally given out personal or financial information.

Some of the ways they obtain this information are by stealing your wallet, going through your garbage, stealing your mail, or reading official court documents. Newer forms of identity theft include phishing (posing as a financial institution or credit card company and requesting personal information such as passwords and account numbers) and pharming (rerouting you to a fake website, similar to your financial institution website, where they ask you for personal identifying information). There are also versions using your cell phone, instant messaging, and other forms of social media. Click here to learn what you should do if you have accidentally given out personal or financial information.

To safeguard yourself, NEVER give this information via unsecured email or internet! You should never share this information unless you have made the contact yourself. Don’t follow an email link and assume you are safe.

AAFCU will NEVER ask you for this type of information by email!

Preventing Identity Theft

To help prevent identity theft:

  • Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call.
  • Shred all documents and mail with identifying information.
  • Don’t carry any information you don’t need in your wallet (Social Security card, extra credit cards, birth certificate, etc.)
  • Keep track of all credit cards, ATM and debit cards, receipts and statements.
  • Cancel all unused credit cards.
  • Keep a list of all credit cards, account numbers, and telephone numbers you use in a safe place.
  • Periodically check your credit rating with each of the three major credit agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report each year from each of the credit agencies. To access them, visit Rather than requesting all three at once, request one every four months to monitor for signs of identity theft year-round.
  • Call your credit card company if your card has expired and you haven’t received a replacement.
  • Never write down PIN’s or passwords. Don’t use anything that is easy to guess as a PIN.
  • If on vacation, arrange to have your mail picked up by someone you trust, or have it held at the Post Office until your return.

What to Do If You’ve Given Out Your Personal or Financial Information

Phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated and difficult to detect, even for technologically savvy people. Many people are also getting onto the Internet and Web browsers for the first time. As a result, some people are going to continue to be fooled into giving up their personal financial information in response to a phishing email or website. If you’ve been tricked this way, you should assume that you will become a victim of credit card fraud, financial institution fraud, or identity theft and take precautions to reduce your risks. Here is some advice on what to do if you are in this situation.

Credit card fraud

  • Report the theft of this information to the card issuer as quickly as possible.
    • Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to handle such emergencies. If this involves your AAFCU Visa Credit Card or AAFCU Visa Debit (Check) Card, call us at 724.763.1172 immediately. If you discover the theft after regular business hours, call 1.800.991.4961 for Visa Credit, or 1-800-472-3272 for Visa Debit.
  • Cancel your account and open a new one. We can take care of your AAFCU account quickly to minimize your inconvenience.
  • Review your billing statements carefully after the loss.
    • If they show any unauthorized charges, it’s best to send a letter to the card issuer describing each questionable charge.
  • Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges (FCBA):
    • Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50.
    • If the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use.
  • ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers (EFTA):
    • Your liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card depends on how quickly you report the loss.
    • You risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you.
  • Report the theft of this information to the financial institution as quickly as possible.

Internet Use

Some phishing attacks use viruses and/or Trojans to install programs called “key loggers” on your computer. These programs capture and send out any information that you type to the phisher, including credit card numbers, user names, passwords, Social Security numbers, etc. In this case, you should:

  • Install and/or update anti-virus and personal firewall software.
  • Update all virus definitions and run a full scan.
  • Confirm every connection your firewall allows.
  • If your system appears to have been compromised, fix it and then change your password again, since you may well have transmitted the new one to the hacker.
  • Check your other accounts! The hackers may have helped themselves to many different accounts: eBay account, PayPal, your email ISP, online bank accounts, online trading accounts, e-commerce accounts, and everything else for which you use online passwords.

Identity Theft

Identity Theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. If you have given out this kind of information to a phisher, you should do the following:

  • Report the theft to the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion Corporation, and do the following:
    • Request that they place a fraud alert and a victim’s statement in your file.
    • Request a FREE copy of your credit report to check whether any accounts were opened without your consent. You can find information about obtaining free credit reports on the Federal Trade Commission’s website or at:
    • Request that the agencies remove inquiries and/or fraudulent accounts stemming from the theft.
  • Major Credit Bureaus:
    • Equifax –
      • To order your report, call: 800.685.1111 or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
      • To report fraud, call: 800.525.6285 and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
      • Hearing impaired call: 1.800.255.0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1.800.685.1111 to request a copy of your report.
    • Experian –
      • To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397.3742) or write: P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013.
      • To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397.3742) and write: P.O. Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013. TDD: 1.800.972.0322.
    • Trans Union –
      • To order your report, call: 800.888.4213 or write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022.
      • To report fraud, call: 800.680.7289 and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634. TDD: 1.877.553.7803.
  • Notify your financial institution(s) and ask them to flag your account and contact you regarding any unusual activity.
    • If accounts were set up without your consent, close them.
    • If your ATM card was stolen, get a new card, account number, and PIN.
  • Contact your local police department to file a criminal report.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information.
  • Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identity theft.
    • Check to see whether an unauthorized license number has been issued in your name.
  • Notify the passport office to be watching for anyone ordering a passport in your name.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
    • Ask for a free copy of “ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen in Your Good Name” a guide that will help you guard against and recover from your theft.
  • File a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC)
    • The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), with a mission to address fraud committed over the Internet.
    • For victims of Internet fraud, IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation.
  • Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the incident. Follow up your phone calls with letters, and keep copies of all correspondence.

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