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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

Credit Management: Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime where one individual steals personally identifiable information of another for their own personal gain. Students should protect themselves, their credit, and livelihood from this quickly growing crime.


  1. Destroy private records and statements. Shred credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain private financial information.
  2. Secure mail. Empty mailboxes quickly, lock them, or get a post office box to ensure that no one has access to financial information. Never mail bill payments from home to eliminate the chance of them being stolen from a mailbox. Mail bills from the post office or another secure location.
  3. Safeguard Social Security Number. Do not carry social security card, or any other card that has a social security number on it. Do not list your social security number on personal checks.
  4. Do not leave a paper trail. Never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts in clear view. Shred unneeded documents.
  5. Safeguard credit cards. Always keep an eye on credit cards or pay with cash.
  6. Be cautious in dealing with others. When someone requests private identity or financial information, make no response other than to find out who they are, what company they represent and the reason for the call. If the request may be legitimate, contact the company first and confirm before revealing any personal data.
  7. Take name off of marketer lists. Register with the National Do-Not-Call registry by calling 888.382.1222 in order to cut down on junk mail and credit card solicitations.
  8. Be defensive when it comes to personal information. When others request information such as a social security or driver's license number, question whether or not it is absolutely necessary. Also, question the company's privacy policy and request that the organization not share information with others.
  9. Monitor credit reports. Obtain and thoroughly review credit reports, which can be obtained annually, free of charge, at http://www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877.322.8228. Report suspicious activity from credit report immediately.
  10. Review credit card statements carefully. Recognize merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. Consider closing credit card accounts that are not in use.

Victims of Identity Theft

Step 1

Contact the fraud department of each of the three major credit bureaus; identify yourself as an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" and victim's statement be placed in your file, instructing creditors to contact you prior to opening any new accounts or making any changes to existing accounts.

To report fraud: 1.800.525.6285
and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

To report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

To report fraud: 1.800.680.7289
and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634

Step 2

Contact the creditors of any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a notification letter.

Step 3

File a report with the local police department or the police department of the community where the identity theft took place. Keep a copy of the police report to verify the crime with banks, credit card companies, and other parties requesting some form of proof.

Step 4

Maintain records of everything concerning efforts to clear up fraud, including copies of written correspondence and documentation of telephone calls.

Other Resources

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Protection

Identity Theft Resource Center

U.S. Department of Education: Identity Theft