FRANKFORT KY - Attorney General Greg Stumbo has issued a consumer alert to Veterans and their families following receipt of information from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs of a phone scam targeting veterans returning from duty.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) reports that the caller begins the conversation by asking veterans military deployment related questions. A second caller then comes on the line and asks for the veteran's social security number.
"Fraud against our veterans is loathsome," said Attorney General Greg Stumbo. "There are 367,000 veterans living in Kentucky. Those who have received such a call and provided their social security numbers are at risk of becoming victims of identity theft. It is important that our veterans recognize this threat and guard against it."
If any veterans have been victimized by this phone scam, the Attorney
General suggests you take the following steps:
1. Contact the fraud department of one of the three major credit bureaus:
* Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
* Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, Texas 75013
* TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
* Ask one of the credit bureaus to place a "fraud alert" on your account. Each bureau will notify the other bureaus to place a fraud alert on each bureau's files.
* Consider whether to place a "security freeze" on your account (after July 12, when the law goes into effect).
* The "fraud alert" tells creditors to contact you before opening any
new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts.
* Kentucky's security freeze law went into effect July 12. Unlike the "fraud alert," a "security freeze" actually prevents any potential creditor from accessing your credit report without your consent. Information in your credit file contains personal information that may be used to steal your identity. However, it also makes it more time consuming for you to obtain credit as well, so you should carefully consider your options before placing a "security freeze" on your account. Under Kentucky law, credit bureaus may charge a $10.00 fee to place a freeze on your credit file unless you are an identity theft victim and have a police report. Credit bureaus may also charge $10.00 to temporarily lift the freeze at your request to authorize a creditor to access your file.
* Each of the credit bureaus has additional information about security freezes and fraud alerts at the websites listed above.
* As a victim of identity theft, you should obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor activity every few months. Ask the credit bureaus for names and phone numbers of credit grantors with whom fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask the credit bureaus to remove inquiries that have been generated due to the fraudulent access. Consumers seeking a copy of their credit report more than once per year may be charged a fee.
2. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the billing inquiries and security departments of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions. Close these accounts. Use passwords, not your mother's maiden name, on any new accounts opened. Confirm your contact with a letter to the security department of each. Ask that old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" rather than as "card lost or stolen" so your credit file won't be interpreted as blaming you for the loss. Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills and report immediately any new fraudulent activity to creditors.
3. File a police report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Get a copy of the police report and retain for your records. Credit card companies and financial institutions may require you to show a copy of this report to verify the crime. Keep the phone number of your investigator and provide it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Contact the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline by telephone: 1-877-438-4338, online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by mail at Identity Theft
Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20580.
5. Contest bills that result from identity theft.
Consumer and privacy advocates suggest not paying any portion of a bill which is a result of identity theft and not filing for bankruptcy. Dispute credit card charges with the card company by writing to the address for "billing error" disputes, not the bill payment address. Follow the directions given by the credit card company for disputing charges. This information must be provided by the company. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected and no legal action should be taken against you as a result of identity theft. If any merchant, financial institution or collection agency suggests otherwise, simply restate your willingness to cooperate, but don't allow yourself to be coerced into paying fraudulent bills. Report such attempts to the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection immediately.
6. Get an ID theft victim's kit from the Attorney General's Office.
Additional information is provided in the kit to assist you in minimizing any harm from having your identity stolen and in restoring your good name. The kit is available online at http://ag.ky.gov/consumer/identity/ or you may call the Attorney General's Office toll free at 1-888-432-9257 and choose option 3.