Identity Theft Information

Identity Theft & Security Breach Information

Welcome to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs identity theft information webpage. Identity theft doesn’t have to be inevitable. There are things that you can do to reduce the chances that you become a victim and to minimize the damage should it happen to you.  If you’re a business owner, and you would like more information on how the Hawaii’s identity theft laws will affect your business, read our Business Briefing.

For a list of security breaches affecting 1,000 or more Hawaii residents that were reported to the Office of Consumer Protection, see our Security Breach Notices

Identity Theft Warning Signs

  • Unauthorized charges on your credit card
  • Receiving credit cards that you did not seek or apply for
  • Missing credit card bills
  • Calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise you did not buy or services you did not authorize
  • Being denied credit or offered credit at less favorable terms for no apparent reason
  • Unauthorized credit cards or charges on your credit report
Identity theft is a serious crime. It’s happening more and more frequently around the world, across the nation, and here in Hawaii. It’s not a mere inconvenience. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and their hard-earned money – cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose opportunities for jobs, loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity theft is on the rise. What you need to know.

Your personal information can be stolen or obtained from businesses or government entities you have patronized if the business or government entity suffers a security breach.  Security breaches can occur for a variety of reasons:

  • Hackers, or unauthorized access to personal information
  • Accidental release or display of information
  • Theft of personal information by a business’s employee or contractor
  • Stolen laptops, computers, or other equipment

In the event of a security breach, if your personal information has been lost or stolen, you may be notified directly by the breached business or government entity, or, in the case of large security breaches, the notification may be via press releases and news media.

Data breach cyber attack graphic

PROTECTING YOURSELF WITH SECURITY FREEZES

If you’re concerned about identity theft, those reported mega-data breaches, or someone gaining access to your credit report without your permission, you might consider placing a credit freeze on your report.

What is a security freeze?

A security freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors. A security 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 would probably not be able to obtain credit in your name.

How do I place a freeze on my credit reports?

To place a freeze, you must write to each of the three credit reporting companies. Each credit reporting company requires Hawaii residents to pay a $5 fee to place, temporarily lift, or remove a security freeze on a credit file. However, the fee is waived if you are a victim of identity theft. To prove you are a victim (and to avoid the fees) you must send a copy of a report of alleged identity fraud or an identity theft report to each of the credit reporting company.

Write to all three addresses below and include the information that follows:

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Security Freeze
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

For each, you must:

  • Send a letter by certified mail
  • If you are a victim of identity theft and do not want to pay a fee, you must include a copy of a report of alleged identity fraud or an identity theft report
  • Provide your full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.,) address, Social Security number, and date of birth
  • If you have moved in the past 5 years, supply the addresses where you have lived over the prior 5 years
  • Provide proof of current address such as a current utility bill or phone bill
  • Send a photocopy of a government issued identification card (state driver’s license or ID card, military identification, etc.)
  • If you are not a victim, provide payment by check, money order or credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express, or Discover cards only) for the $5 fee.

If you are not a victim of identity theft you have the option to request to place, lift, or remove a security freeze by a secure website or telephone. Payment of the $5 fee is required.

Equifax
1-800-349-9960
Experian
1-888-397-3742
TransUnion
1-888-909-8872

After receiving your credit freeze request, each credit bureau will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.

I am a victim of identity theft.  How do I get a police report, investigative report or a complaint from a law enforcement agency that I can submit to a credit reporting company to avoid the $5 fee?

File a police report

You can obtain a detailed police report about your situation by filing a police report both locally as well as in the jurisdiction where the fraud took place. Filing a report in person is the most effective method. The police department may ask for copies of any evidence you have of the fraud such as credit card statements with fraudulent transactions, collection letters, or credit reports showing unauthorized accounts. You can also report identity theft using an online reporting system at IdentityTheft.gov where you’ll answer some questions about what happened. In most cases, you can use the Identity Theft Report generated online in place of a police report because when you use IdentityTheft.gov, you are reporting the crime to the Federal Trade Commission, a federal law enforcement agency. Similarly, you can file an Identity Theft Report with the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection, a state law enforcement agency, by calling (808) 586-2636.

Does a credit freeze affect my credit score?

No. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score.
A credit freeze also does not:

  • prevent you from getting your free annual credit report
  • keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. But if you’re doing any of these, you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily, either for a specific time or for a specific party, say, a potential landlord or employer. The cost and lead times to lift a freeze vary, so it’s best to check with the credit reporting company in advance.
  • prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.

Can anyone see my credit report if it is frozen?

Certain entities still will have access to it.
• your report can be released to your existing creditors or to debt collectors acting on their behalf.
• government agencies may have access in response to a court or administrative order, a subpoena, or a search warrant.

How do I lift a freeze?

A freeze remains in place until you ask the credit reporting company to temporarily lift it or remove it altogether. A credit reporting company must lift a freeze no later than three business days after getting your request. The cost to lift a freeze in Hawaii is $5 and it can vary by state.
If you opt for a temporary lift because you are applying for credit or a job, and you can find out which credit reporting company the business will contact for your file, you can save some money by lifting the freeze for only that company.

What’s the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?

A credit freeze locks down your credit. A fraud alert allows creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity.

PROTECTING YOURSELF FOLLOWING A SECURITY BREACH WITH A FRAUD ALERT

  • Contact your creditors, including credit card companies, banks, credit unions, and other lenders, to determine whether there is any suspicious or unauthorized activity that has occurred on your accounts
  • Contact any of the three credit reporting companies to place a fraud alerton your credit report. A fraud alert does not block potential new credit, but places a comment on your credit history to alert creditors to contact you prior to opening a new account.  Once you have contacted any one of the three credit reporting companies the other two will be notified that you have placed a fraud alert on your credit report.  (See credit reporting company contact information, below)
A stamp that reads: Fraud Alert
  • Once you have placed a fraud alerton your credit report, you will be entitled to a free copy of your credit report. The credit reporting companies will send you a letter telling you how to order your free credit report.  Review your credit reports carefully for suspicious activity or charges.
  • Be alert! The first year following a security breach is when your stolen personal information is most likely to be used by ID thieves.

How do I place a fraud alert on my credit reports?

To place a fraud alert on your credit reports, ask one of the three credit reporting companies to put a fraud alert on your credit file.  Confirm that the company you called will contact the other two companies. Don’t forget to mark your calendar because the initial fraud alert stays on your report for 90 days.  You can renew it after 90 days.

Contact information for the credit reporting companies:

Equifax
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Phone: 1-888-766-0008
Experian
National Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Phone: 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion
Fraud Victim Assistance
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Phone: 1-888-909-8872

Three types of fraud alerts are available:

  • Initial Fraud Alert. If you’re concerned about identity theft, but haven’t yet become a victim, this fraud alert will protect your credit from unverified access for at least 90 days. You may want to place a fraud alert on your file if your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information are lost or stolen.
  • Extended Fraud Alert. For victims of identity theft, an extended fraud alert will protect your credit for seven years.
  • Active Duty Military Alert. For those in the military who want to protect their credit while deployed, this fraud alert lasts for one year.

How do I get a free copy of my credit reports?

All consumers can obtain a free annual credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies, regardless of whether they have been victims of identity theft.  Call 1-877-322-8228, or request one online.

IDENTITY THEFT & SECURITY BREACH LINKS

Federal Trade Commission

Federal Bureau of Investigation