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How to Avoid Identity Theft

Code of Iowa - Identity Theft

  • 714.16B Identity theft - civil cause of action.
  • 715A.8   Identity theft.
  • 715A.9  Value for purposes of identity theft.


    A message from Attorney General Tom Miller:

    Dear fellow Iowans,
    The goal of this brochure is to help you avoid becoming a victim of "identity theft." Identity theft occurs when someone obtains important personal information, such as your Social Security number, banking or credit card account numbers, to commit fraud or theft.


    Today's credit identity thieves are information seekers and they don't need to steal your wallet. They obtain bits of information by sorting through trash for discarded receipts and statements, spying for your PIN number at ATM machines or telephone booths, accessing public records, and even stealing from your mailbox.

    The Consumer Protection Division of my office developed this brochure to suggest steps you can take to reduce your risk of disclosing important personal information and of becoming a victim of identity theft.

    I encourage you to contact my office if we can provide any more information. Please write to the Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, or call 515-281-5926.

    With best wishes,
    Tom Miller
    Attorney General of Iowa

    Identity theft crimes are on the rise causing nationwide concern. Your personal identifying information can be accessed in a variety of ways. An imposter can misuse your information to open fraudulent credit card accounts, secure deposits on cars and housing, obtain employment opportunities, create insurance benefits, and rob retirement earnings. This form of financial sabotage can devastate your credit and require endless hours of telephone and written communication to resolve. In the meantime, you may experience difficulty writing checks, obtaining loans, renting apartments, and even getting hired. While following these precautionary steps is not a guarantee, it will greatly reduce your chances of becoming the next identity theft victim.

    Table of Contents

    Reducing Access to Your Personal Identifying Information
    Credit Cards
    Passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)
    Social Security Numbers
    Responsible Information Handling

    Reducing Access to Your Personal
    Identifying Information

    1. To minimize the amount of information a thief can steal, do not carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport in your wallet or purse, except when needed.

    2. To reduce the amount of personal information that is "out there," consider the following:

    • Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus -- CSC Credit Services (Equifax Regional Office), Experian (formerly TRW), and Trans Union. This will limit the number of pre-approved offers of credit that you receive in the mail. When in transit or tossed into the garbage, such solicitations are a potential target of identity thieves who use them to order credit cards in your name.

    • Order your credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus to check for inaccuracies and fraudulent use of your accounts. Monitoring your credit card statements and your credit report are the most important steps you can take to safeguard your credit identity.
  • Credit Bureau
    Report Consumer Fraud
    Request Credit Report
    Get Off Mailing Lists
    CSC Credit Services
    (Equifax Regional Office)

    P.O. Box 674402

    Houston, TX 77267-4402
    800-272-9281
    and write to address at left.
    800-759-5979 800-759-5979
    and write to address at left.
    Experian (TRW)
    P.O. Box 1017

    Allen, TX 75013
    888-397-3742 or
    800-301-7195

    and write to address at left.
    888-397-3742 or
    800-682-7654
    800-353-0809
    and write to:

    Experian (TRW)

    P.O. Box 919

    Allen, TX 75013
    Trans Union
    P.O. Box 390

    Springfield, PA 19064
    800-680-7289
    and write to:

    Fraud Victim Asst. Div.

    P.O. Box 6790

    Fullerton, CA 92634
    800-888-4213 800-680-7293
    and write to:

    P.O. Box 97328

    Jackson, MS 39738

    Remove your name, home address and home telephone number from many mailing and telephone lists through the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service. This free service is only available for individuals and "home" addresses (not businesses). You will be removed from the Direct Marketing Association member lists for five years.

    To remove your name and home address from national mailing lists, write:
    Direct Marketing Association

    Mail Preference Service

    P.O. Box 643

    Carmel, NY 10512-0643
    To remove your name from telephone solicitation
    lists, write:
    Direct Marketing Association

    Telephone Preference Service

    P.O. Box 1559

    Carmel, NY 10512-1559

    Remove your name and address from the telephone book, reverse directories, and city directories. By eliminating your name from these sources, you can reduce access to your personal information from places like the Internet (which mainly use public information resources as a database), telemarketers, and identity thieves


    To block your address, call or write: U.S. West
    925 High Street

    Des Moines, IA 50309

    1-800-244-1111
    $13 one time fee
    To remove your information from the phone book ("non-listed"), call or write: U. S. West
    925 High Street

    Des Moines, IA 50309

    1-800-244-1111
    $13 one time fee and
    $2.50 monthly
    To remove your information from the phone book and directory assistance ("non-published"), call or write: U. S. West
    925 High Street

    Des Moines, IA 50309

    1-800-244-1111
    $13 one time fee and
    $4 monthly
    To remove your information from the city directory, call or write: R. L. Polk Company
    37001 Industrial Road

    Livonia, MI 48150

    1-800-275-7655
    Free

    Iowa law allows individuals to request an "assigned" driver's license number rather than using their Social Security number. The Social Security number is the most frequently used record keeping number in the United States. The widespread use of Social Security numbers makes invasion of privacy and fraud easier to commit. Assigned driver's license numbers are only available to holders of non-commercial licenses. Persons holding a commercial driver's license (CDL) must use their Social Security number as a driver's license number. Even though you may request an assigned number, Iowa law requires you to disclose your Social Security number to the Department of Transportation when applying for an Iowa driver's license. In addition to being your driver's license number, an assigned number can be utilized in a variety of ways, thus protecting your Social Security number from unnecessary public disclosure.

    Iowa law allows individuals to protect their personal information contained within driver's license records from public disclosure. (Iowa Code section 321.11) You may pick up a form to prohibit disclosure at your local driver's license station. Or, you may write to the address listed below and request that the personal information contained within your driving record be protected from public disclosure. Personal information does not include records of conviction or occurrences of accidents. Be sure to include with the request your full name as shown on your driver's license or non-driver identification card (ID), current address, social security number, Iowa driver's license number or non-driver ID card number, date of birth, and signature. Iowa law requires you to disclose and use of your full name for driver's license records.
      Iowa Department of Transportation
      Office of Driver Services
      Park Fair Mall
      100 Euclid Avenue
      Des Moines, IA 50306-9204
      Phone: 515-244-8725
      Phone: 800-532-1121(toll-free within Iowa)
    Iowa law allows individuals to protect their personal information contained within motor vehicle records from public disclosure. (Iowa Code section 321.11) Your local County Treasurer's Office can give you or mail you a form to prohibit disclosure. Or, there is a box you may check to prohibit disclosure on your Motor Vehicle Renewal Notice or on the Application for Iowa Title when you purchase a motor vehicle.

    If you provide your County Treasurer with an assigned driver's license number, your Social Security number will not be printed on your motor vehicle registration receipt, which you are required to carry in your vehicle. In addition, you may consider deleting your middle name or using only your middle initial if you have a common name. Iowa law requires you to disclose your full name and Social Security number to the County Treasurer when applying for an Iowa title or a motor vehicle renewal.

    Iowa law allows individuals to delete their Social Security number, middle name (you may consider using a middle initial if you have a common name) and telephone number from voter registration records. (Iowa Code section 48A.11) Your local County Auditor's Office can give you or mail you a Voter Registration Application to change the information contained within your voter registration file. Fill out the entire form and simply write "delete" in the areas you want to protect from public disclosure. This form is also available in most US West and Telecom telephone books in the government listings.

    COPYRIGHT 2000 THE STATE OF IOWA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.