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Lottery Scams - How to Recognize Them and what To Do If You Receive One

How can someone steal your identity? 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 a serious crime. 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 job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.

If you think your identity has been stolen, here's what to do now:

  1. Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus  to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts, and all three credit reports will be sent to you free of charge.
  2. Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts.

  3. File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.

  4. File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.

  5. For more in-depth information on recovering from identity theft and help with specific problems, read ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name.

More information:


For publications marked with the CD-Rom icon, you can order a CD-Rom to print bulk copies. Go to Order Publications and request under bulk orders information.

ID Theft: What's It All About?

ID Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name

ID Theft Affidavit

Identity Crisis... What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen

Identity Thieves Can Ruin Your Good Name: Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

Is Someone "Phishing" for Your Information?

How Not to Get Hooked by a Phishing Scam

Now Is the Time For All Good Consumers to Order a Copy of Their Credit Report

Getting Purse-onal: What To Do If Your Wallet or Purse Is Stolen

Pretexting: Your Personal Information Revealed

Avoiding Credit and Charge Card Fraud

Consumer Credit File Privacy: The Real Deal

Credit, ATM and Debit Cards: What to do If They're Lost or Stolen

Electronic Banking

Fair Credit Billing

Fair Credit Reporting

Fair Debt Collection

Hoax Targets Elderly African Americans

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

The “Nigerian” Scam: Costly Compassion

Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information

Privacy: Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information

Privacy: What You Do Know Can Protect You

ID Theft Audio File (Shirley Rooker)
[Audio1] [Audio 2]

ID Theft Video News Release (Dial Up Version - 56k)
[Video 1] [Video 2]

ID Theft Video News Release (Broadband Version)
[Video 1] [Video 2]



For consumers:

About identity theft

button link to Consumer Information Section

button link to Business Information Section

button link to For Law Enforcement Section

button link to Press Room Section
button link to ID Theft Statistics
button link to En Espanol Section
























Consumer and Professional Organizations

International Association of Chiefs of Police:
Curbing Identity Theft Resolution

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Identity Theft Resource Center

Better Business Bureau

Call for Action

National Consumers' League (National Fraud Information Center)

Credit Bureaus




Federal Government

Federal Trade Commission

Comptroller of the Currency

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Secret Service

Social Security Administration

US Department of Justice

US Postal Inspection Service

State & Local Government


National Conference of State Legislatures

Alabama Attorney General

Alaska Attorney General

Arizona Attorney General

Phoenix Police Department

Arkansas Attorney General

California Attorney General

California Office of Privacy Protection

California Department of Motor Vehicles

Colorado Attorney General

Connecticut Attorney General

Delaware Attorney General

District of Columbia
Office of the Corporation Counsel

Florida Attorney General

Georgia Attorney General

Georgia Stop Identity Theft Network

Hawaii Attorney General

Idaho Attorney General

Illinois Attorney General

Indiana Attorney General

Iowa Attorney General

Kansas Attorney General

Kentucky Attorney General

Louisiana Attorney General

Maine Attorney General

Maryland Attorney General

Massachusetts Attorney General

Michigan Attorney General

Minnesota Attorney General

Mississippi Attorney General

Missouri Attorney General

Montana Attorney General

Nebraska Attorney General

Nevada Attorney General

New Hampshire Attorney General

New Jersey Attorney General

New Mexico Attorney General

New York Attorney General

North Carolina Attorney General

North Dakota Attorney General

Ohio Attorney General

Oklahoma Attorney General

Oregon Attorney General

Pennsylvania Attorney General

Rhode Island Attorney General

South Carolina Attorney General

South Dakota Attorney General

Tennessee Attorney General

Texas Attorney General

Utah Attorney General

Vermont Attorney General

Virginia Attorney General

Washington Attorney General

West Virginia Attorney General

Wisconsin Attorney General

Wyoming Attorney General


Fraudulent Emails Seek to Capture Consumer Information 

Consumers should stay alert for spam emails that purport to come from well-known companies. The exact scam may vary, but usually the email will claim that there is a problem with the consumer’s account or an order has been mistakenly placed which the consumer needs to cancel. The email will provide a link which will take the consumer to a website that may look very similar to the true company’s website with a URL that may sound plausible. The consumer will be asked to input personal information which can range from credit card numbers to bank account numbers and PINs to Social Security numbers. Consumers should not enter any information or they put themselves at risk of becoming victims of identity theft. If consumers are not sure if the email is a hoax, they should check the real company’s website for a posting about the scam or call customer service. They should use a regular telephone or online directory to find the company’s contact information, not contact information provided in the email. 

What should I do if I gave away my personal information?

See How Not to Get Hooked by a "Phishing" Scam for more information.

July 1 Opt-out Email

The "July 1 Opt-out" email is not a scam, although it does contain certain misinformation. The July 1 deadline relates to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB), which set July 1, 2001 as the deadline for financial institutions to give consumers the first of their annual notices about their privacy policies and how to opt-out of some of their information-sharing practices. Consumers may contact their financial institutions at any time to learn more about their privacy policies and to opt-out under the law.

The toll-free number - 1-888-567-8688 - is the number to call if consumers wish to opt-out of the pre-screened credit card or other offers that they receive in the mail. This is a legitimate number that will take consumers off the pre-screened marketing lists of the three major credit bureaus. Any personal information the credit bureaus may ask for is for verification purposes only. The credit bureaus already have all of the information. Consumers may call the pre-screened offers opt-out number at anytime. 

For more information, read Privacy Choices for Your Personal Financial Information.

Hoax Targets Elderly African Americans

The “Nigerian” Scam: Costly Compassion



All images and text © Copyright J Slemmer 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
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