The Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit has tools
available to help victims of identity theft address their problems, and to help
all consumers protect themselves from identity thieves.
Identity theft is
one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, affecting nearly ten million
Americans a year, and Marylanders are not immune. Identity theft is when a thief uses your personal identifying information to open credit
accounts in your name or evade criminal liability. Identity thieves can obtain
your personal information by:
“change of address” form to divert your mail to another location
for documents with personal information
sending e-mails that appear to be from legitimate businesses asking for
consumer's personal information
using special storage devices to steal your credit or debit card number when
they process your card
using false pretenses to obtain your information from your bank, phone company,
or even you
from businesses where they are a customer or employee, or by hacking into
The Identity Theft
Unit can give you step-by-step advice on how to protect yourself from identity thieves
using, or continuing to use, your personal information. We may also be able to
help you to address some of the issues that identity theft causes, such as
dealing with credit card companies or collection agencies. You may contact
the Identity Theft Unit by calling (410) 576-6491 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
A new law that
took effect Jan. 1, 2013 enables parents and legal guardians to place a security
freeze on their minor child's credit records that would prevent identity thieves
from opening credit accounts in the child's name. For more information on how to
submit freeze requests to each of the three major credit reporting agencies, see this press release.
Review your credit
report from each of the three credit reporting agencies twice per year. You can
stagger them so you are looking at a fresh report every two months. Under
Maryland and federal law, you are entitled to two FREE credit reports from each
of the Credit Reporting Agencies each year. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to access
your report through the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. You must contact each
of the three Credit Reporting Agencies individually to access your credit report
under Maryland law:
Use passwords and
PIN numbers for your credit card, bank, and phone accounts.
Use a safe to
secure personal information in your home.
Don't carry your
social security card, bank account PIN or other sensitive information with you – leave it at home in a secure place.
Don't give out
your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary – ask for a
randomly generated ID number.
Don't give out
your personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet
unless you initiated the contact or know you can trust the person on the other
Buy a shredder and
destroy any documents that contain personal information instead of throwing them
away. This includes credit card offers you receive in the mail, bank statements,
phone bills, etc.
pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (567-8688) and junk mail
by writing to the direct marketing association at:
ServiceDirect Marketing AssociationP.O. Box 643Carmel, NY
Use a locking
mailbox to prevent mail theft.
Be wary of e-mail
scams. If you did not enter an international lottery, it is unlikely that you
won anything... If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Read more in our comprehensive guide to identity theft.
The Identity Theft Unit can issue Identity Theft Passports to consumers who have been impacted by identity theft. The Passport is a tool that may help a consumer resolve
financial issues caused by identity theft, and may help prevent a wrongful
arrest if a thief uses personal identifying information during the
commission of a crime. To obtain a Passport, you must fill out and submit an
application to the Identity Theft Unit. It is very important that you include a
copy of a police report regarding the crime committed against you, as well as a
photocopy of your Maryland Driver's License or other State-issued identification
card. We will conduct a background check to verify your identity and the details
of the crime, so please include any other supporting documents that you may
have. Court documents, financial account statements or your credit report will
be very helpful in speeding up the approval process. Once we determine whether
you are eligible for a passport, we will contact you to provide you with
instructions on how to activate your Passport and answer any questions you may
have.You may fill out the Passport application online, or download the Passport application.
A “security freeze” or “credit freeze”
completely blocks the information on your credit report from would-be creditors.
A credit freeze can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not open
credit accounts without first checking a consumer's credit history. If your
credit files are frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security
number might not be able to get credit in your name. Maryland law prohibits
credit reporting agencies from charging more than $5 per credit freeze. Anyone
who is a victim of identity theft will be able to freeze his or her credit
reports for free.
For more information, check out our guide on freezing your credit report.
The Federal Trade
Commission has useful information on its identity theft website, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft for
The Identity Theft
Resource Center is a non-profit organization that provides victim support and
consumer education, visit them at www.idtheftcenter.org/.
The Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse is a non-profit organization specializing in consumer education,
576-6491Fax: (410) 576-6566E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgMail:200
St. Paul Place16th FloorBaltimore, MD 21202
200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202
410-576-6300 / 1-888-743-0023 toll-free / TDD: 410-576-6372