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Family Life

ID THEFT - WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Identity theft is a serious crime. That is why NYCHA keeps resident information strictly confidential, as the law requires. Records containing personal or confidential information about residents, applicants and employees are for the use of NYCHA exclusively. NYCHA employees are forbidden to disclose this data to anyone without authorization, including other employees who do not need the information to conduct Authority business.

We urge residents to be equally careful because an identity thief could try to obtain some piece of your sensitive information and use it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years — and their hard-earned money — cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. Some victims have lost job opportunities, been refused loans for education, housing or cars, or even been arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.

Can you prevent identity theft from occurring?

As with any crime, you cannot completely control whether you will become a victim. But, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information cautiously and with heightened sensitivity. For examples...
  • Make sure that unlocked or damaged mailbox repair requests are submitted immediately;
  • Shred manually or by machine documents containingwith personal information before putting them in the garbrage;
  • Make sure that computers do not have personal information stored ion them before you throw them away.
How Identity Theft Occurs

Skilled identity thieves have many ways use a variety of methods to gain access to your personal information. For example:
  • They get information from businesses or other institutions by: - stealing records from their employer, - bribing an employee who has access to these records, or - hacking into an the organization’s computers.
  • They rummage through your trash, or the trash of businesses or dumps in a practice known as “dumpster diving.”
  • They obtain credit reports by abusing their employer’s authorized access to credit reports or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to the information.
  • They steal credit and debit card numbers as your card is processed by using a special information storage device in a practice known as “skimming.”
  • They steal wallets and purses containing identification and credit and bankcards.
  • They steal mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information.
  • They complete a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location.
  • They steal personal information from your home.
  • They scam information from you by posing as a legitimate business person or government official.
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may:
  • Go on spending sprees using your credit and debit card account numbers to buy “big-ticket” items like computers that they can easily sell.
  • Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and SSN. When they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • Change the mailing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on the account. Because the bills are being sent to the new address, it may take some time before you realize there’s a problem.
  • Take out auto loans in your name.
  • Establish cell phone or other or wireless services in your name.
  • Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
  • Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
  • File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred, or to avoid eviction.
  • Give your name to the police during an arrest. If they are released and don’t show up for their court date, an arrest warrant could be issued in your name.
How Can I Tell if I'm a Victim of Identity Theft?

Monitor the balances of your financial accounts. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals. Other indications of identity theft can be:
  • failing to receive bills or other mail signaling an address change by the identity thief;
  • receiving credit cards for which you did not apply;
  • denial of credit for no apparent reason; or
  • receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you didn’t buy.

What steps can I take?

If an identity thief is opening new credit accounts in your name, these accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You can find out by ordering a copy of your credit report from any of three major credit bureaus. Beginning September 1, 2005 New York State residents are eligible for one free credit report each year. Find out more about free credit reports at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. The three major credit bureaus are: If you find inaccurate information on one report, check your reports from the other two credit bureaus. Of course, some inaccuracies on your credit reports may be because of computer, clerical, or other errors and may not be a result of identity theft. Note: If your personal information has been lost or stolen, you may want to check all of your reports more frequently for the first year. Federal law allows credit bureaus to charge you up to $9 for a copy of your credit report.

You may also want to visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or call 1-877-IDTHEFT, the Federal Trade Commission's toll-free ID Theft Hotline.