Learn more about consumer protection
Securing IDs is essential to not only protecting consumers from financial loss and shoring up the world's finest financial system. Mainers should be vigilant to protect themselves and our community from the dangers caused by identity thieves. The links below lead to some great resources on protecting your identity or recovering from theft. Please give these resources a look and call my office at (207) 774-5019 if you have any questions.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information without your permission to commit fraud and other crimes. As many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
It is possible to minimize your risk by protecting your personal information.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on your checks, and give out your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. Whenever possible, ask to use another type of identifier.
- Shred documents with identifying information, like credit applications, insurance forms, bank statements, credit card offers, and receipts before you throw them away. You can opt out of receiving pre-screened credit offers in the mail by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). Take outgoing mail with personally-identifying information, like bills, to the post office rather than leaving them in an unsecured mailbox.
- Avoid internet scams by visiting OnGuard Online.
- Use intricate passwords for your online accounts. Avoid using easily available information like you mother’s maiden name, your birth date, part of your Social Security number, or a single word that appears in the dictionary. Instead, combine letters, numbers, and special characters to make strong passwords.
- Do not give out personal information unless you know who you are dealing with. Search online to verify that organizations are legitimate. If you receive a call from a bank or company that asks for account information, ask if you can call them back at the customer service number listed on your account statement or in the phone book.
- Store information in secure locations at home and keep your purse or wallet secure at work. Ask about security information at your workplace or at businesses, doctor’s offices, and other institutions that collect your personal information.
- Regularly monitor your financial statements and credit reports for inaccurate information or suspicious activity, like charges for merchandise or services you did not purchase.
- Accounts you didn’t open and debts on your accounts that you cannot explain
- Fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit reports
- Failing to receive bills or other mail. Follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time.
- Receiving credit cards when you didn’t apply
- Being denied credit or being offered less favorable terms for no apparent reason
- Getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you didn’t buy.
Recovering from identity theft can be a difficult process. You can find the step-by-step process to file police reports, notify the Federal Trade Commission, and resolve disputes with companies and credit reporting agencies here.
Remember to keep detailed records of your correspondence to protect you in the future.
- Fighting Back Against Identity Theft (FTC)
- Federal and State Laws
- Department of Justice Guide to Identity Theft
- Social Security Administration Guide to Identity Theft
An important step to securing your identity is checking your credit report for unusual and suspicious activity. You can get one free credit report a year through the Federal Trade Commission. Beware: this is the only way to get a free credit report. Companies who say they offer the service for free usually charge hidden fees.