possible identity theft help
June 19, 2005 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Identity theft filter: A friend who has only been in the country for a year got a phone call yesterday saying he won a big prize, but they need info to process it. They had his name, phone#... he gave up his address, DOB and last 4 digits of SS#. What can he do to prevent identity theft at this point?

I suggested calling his bank and telling them to put a watch on the account. He doesn't have any credit cards, and I'm wracking my brain to think of any other bad things people could do with this information. (Last 4 digits of social security number seem like a ID verification type thing to me)

He's really worried, given the recent Mastercard identity theft story.

Also, he's not listed in the phone book, but they knew his name and number. Not sure if that changes things one way or the other.
posted by steve.wdc to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call the FBI's Identity Theft Hotline (877.438.4338).
posted by cribcage at 10:32 AM on June 19, 2005

Depending on certain factors, the rest of your friend's SS# could be very easy to guess. New in the past year means the group code probably is still the newest and I bet he currently lives in the area he got his SS# or he got it at an immigration place.

Info on SS# format here.
posted by easyasy3k at 11:07 AM on June 19, 2005

He needs to call the major credit card agencies and put a fraud alert on his account, which will prevent anyone from opening account with his identity without his approval, but will not prevent random charges on already existing accounts. Google can tell you/him how to do this.
posted by judith at 11:30 AM on June 19, 2005

He should ontact the fraud departments at the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on his credit files.

Also he should check out these online resources: FTC's Identity Theft website, DOJ ID Theft Resource website, Identity Theft Resource Center website for other course of action.
posted by ericb at 12:00 PM on June 19, 2005

Call and follow-up with letters to the Fraud Alert Departments at:

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013

Trans Union
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
posted by ericb at 12:05 PM on June 19, 2005

xmutex, this is the 2nd or third time I've seen you post noise to AskMe. What exactly about "Wisecracks don't help people find answers" is difficult to understand?
posted by mediareport at 12:10 PM on June 19, 2005

Hi Steve,

I am sorry to hear about your friend. While it pains me to add his worries, there is a *lot* identity thieves can do with this information.

For example, they may:
- open new credit card accounts
- establish phone or wireless service
- open a bank account and write bad checks
- file for bankruptcy under the name
- buy a car by taking out an auto loan
- get identification such as a driver's license
- get a job / file fraudulent tax returns
- give the name to police during an arrest

Your friend needs to visit the FTC's Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft immediately.

If your friend has only been in this country for one year and English is not his mother tongue, please go through the page with him to make sure that he understands his situation. He may also need some help setting up the fraud alerts, etc.


Wow is he dumb.

Wow are you an asshole this morning. This guy has only been in the country for one year and already faces a world of hurt.

If you can't spare any compassion, at least show some class.

On Preview, ericb and mediareport beat me to it...
posted by cup at 12:22 PM on June 19, 2005

[xmutex's comment pulled, not sure it matters, but anyhow...]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:13 PM on June 19, 2005

I agree, this was not such a smart thing to do, but hey it's done and now he needs to protect himself. Sometimes that's how we learn, the hard way. ericb's advice is spot on. Through the credit bureaus, you can essentially get a hold put on opening new credit accounts.
posted by caddis at 1:31 PM on June 19, 2005

All good advice, but one more thing: always send letters by certified mail to banks, credit bureaus, etc. Even if you talk to somebody and s/he reassures you that "nothing bad will happen because we have your best interests in mind," follow up with a letter repeating what your understanding of the conversation is. Send the letter certified, and keep a copy with the certified receipt. You'll need it to prove that you suspected identity fraud and did all you could to avoid it.
posted by spacewrench at 2:11 PM on June 19, 2005

Thanks everyone, we've called the credit bureaus, FBI hotline and are filing a police report. We'll be calling the bank on Monday.

As it turns out, it looks like he was slammed (telephone carrier switched) by a super sketchy company supposedly connected to Verizon (according to the phone # they gave him).

Thanks for helping us cover all the bases, he's very appreciative.
posted by steve.wdc at 4:26 PM on June 19, 2005

I was slammed by Verizon once [OK, I think they were still Bell Atlantic then, not a recent occurrence]. I had always thought it was the small little nothing players that did this and was shocked when it happened by them.
posted by caddis at 7:31 PM on June 19, 2005

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