Boise resident Ashley Lewis says she never gives out her personal information, no matter who asks for it. But the text message she received on her cellphone looked for all purposes to be from her provider.
I did click on the link and gave my address and phone number, she says. However, I did not give my credit card. I did this on my phone. What do I need to do now?
As more people trade in simple flip-style cellphones for smartphones, thieves are using the mobile technology to perpetrate scams. The best way to protect yourself is to not click on any link unless you know, beyond a shadow of doubt, where it will take you.
If you have clicked on a bad link, you may not know the damage it has done or is doing to your identity. Here are a few things to do:
Watch for bills for a credit card account you never opened, or unfamiliar and unauthorized charges on your existing accounts. You may also get calls from collection agencies regarding payment of debts.
Watch for your credit card statements to arrive in the mail on a regular billing cycle. Keep an eye on other expected mail/bills. If they do not come, it may be because they are being diverted to a different address.
Look at your bank statements immediately. Look for items like electronic transfers or withdrawals you do not remember. Check to see if any checks are missing or out of order, or if youve ordered new checks that do not arrive in the mail.
Watch for changes in your credit. You could get turned down for a credit card, mortgage or other loan because your credit report includes debts you never knew you had.
If you fall victim to a scam, take additional steps.
Keep records of telephone calls and correspondence regarding the fraud.
File a report with the police department. Keep a copy of the report and note the date, case number and individuals youve talked with. This is proof of the crime.
If you suspect your mail is being diverted, check with the post office.
Call credit card companies right away to check on your account status. Canceling credit cards may stop someone else from using an existing account, but it does not stop new accounts in your name. To prevent this, contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus and ask them to flag your file as a possible fraud victim. This warning will include a statement that creditors should call to get your permission before approving new credit cards or loans in your name. After calling each credit bureau, you should follow up in writing. Keep copies of written notices.
Aside from the credit cards, you may want to call each creditor for any accounts that were tampered with or falsely established in your name. Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you must follow up a call with a letter. Send the letter to the address provided to report billing errors, unless you are directed otherwise.
Robb Hicken, (208) 947-2115