USPS & FTC Mail Out "Avoid ID Theft" Brochure

Today we received a handy brochure (PDF) in the mail from the postal service. “Deter, Detect, Defend,” it reads, and it offers a bunch of handy reminders of what to look out for when it comes to protecting your identity, and what to do if you suspect it’s been stolen. If yours was stolen (ha ha, we kid!), you can read read or download it from the FTC’s ID theft website.

The website has a lot of other useful resources as well, like how to detect and avoid phishing scams, what to do if you suspect your identity has been stolen, and a printable ID theft affidavit (PDF) to send to creditors.

“Deter, Detect, Defend” Brochure (PDF) [FTC]
Text-only version of brochure [FTC]



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  1. tsunamibombsquad says:

    more junk mail

  2. corthepirate says:

    Oddly enough, this arrived in my mailbox the very day after I found out I was a victim. I’m 19 and I’ve never had a credit card, so I’ve never had a need to check my credit report. I tried to get it the other day from equifax, and it turns out someone took a mortgage out in my name over two years ago! Ugh what a headache…

  3. Gadgetgirl says:

    I saw it, then chucked it after the “WTF?!” moment passed by.

  4. tsunamibombsquad says:

    @corthepirate: holy shit? howd that work out…im 20 and wells fargo called me like 15 minutes after someone in illinois swiped my card for a dollar 31…1.31!!

  5. tsunamibombsquad says:

    im from cali, and have never been to a “fly by” state other than nevada, to give relevance..they caught it quick

  6. erikw says:


    If it helps, my girlfriend and I discovered the same thing and thought for sure she was a victim. I had a friend of mine run her TransUnion report shortly after, and it came up clean. Soon after, she got her Experian and Equifax reports in the mail and everything was clean. When she tried to receive her Equifax report online, it told her that she had opened a mortgage in 2002 (we are both 19) and it asked her what bank she was with and the range of payments. Citi also told her over the phone that someone had opened a credit card in her name. We have not addressed the Citi issue yet to see whether that is actually true, but at least all three reports are clean. I advise you to try to get a copy of your credit reports as soon as you can and hopefully you will find that something is wrong with Equifax’s systems.

  7. timmus says:

    How ironic… the USPS sending this stuff out, when they resell the crap out of our personal info when we fill out those Change Of Address packages.

  8. says:


    it’s in my bathroom for some reading material

  9. corthepirate says:

    @erikw: Wow, thanks for that tip. Equifax also told me I had a mortgage opened in 2005 and asked for the bank and the range of payments. I was freaking out because the payments were $2000+. I’m still waiting to get my report back, but in the meantime you have put my mind at ease.

  10. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    I got mine today: opened it, saw it was junk mail, threw it away…

    If/when my identity gets stolen, I’m coming looking to the internet for help (this post! Ha!), not some pamphlet the USPS sent me…

  11. DMDDallas says:

    FYI – when you request your credit report online, one of the security measures is to ask you a series of questions about your accounts to make sure you are really who you say you are.

    Sometimes they will throw a bogus question at you, asking about your mortgage or car payments. You have a choice to say you do not have one.

    Could this perhaps be what is happening to you? I find it hard to believe that someone can open a mortgage in your name fraudulently.

  12. chocxtc says:

    The USPS is a joke. They constantly and freely share our information when we fill out a change of address in addition to all the junk card offers we get. Still good to be diligent about your ID, having been victimized twice.

  13. tsunamibombsquad says:

    @DMDDallas: i dont….i was at a camera store the nice kind, and they were saying they had been hit hard by someone using fake ids with credit cards whose name matched the card, but the numbers were to someone else, hard to catch. identity theft is getting common, think about how many times a day you tell people your adress? then think about how many different places you use your SSN…i find it easy to believe that someone could walk through my neighborhood and collect thousands of credit card aps and then go home do a little research and badabing

  14. Angryrider says:

    Got this in the mail, didn’t read it. I don’t really expect my identity to be stolen… yet… Do colleges sell personal info about their students?

  15. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    I never thought this would happen to me, but then someone hacked into my ebay account and try to hack into my paypal account. Fortunately, I caught it relatively quickly.

    Definitely monitor you bank accounts and look your credit card bills over closely each month.

    I would also highly recommend a shredder. While most of the mail is bulky, I generally just tear off the part with my name and address on it and put that in the shredder and toss the rest.

  16. pfeng says:

    @Angryrider: Better ask your college. The type of information they will release can range widely. They’re certainly not going to sell stuff that would automatically lead to identity theft, but they might sell lists of students and addresses for marketing purposes, etc.

  17. Quellman says:

    I felt bad throwing mine away, simply because I know that my tax dollars are in the ink. At least we know why the price of stamps went up, to inform people of fraud!

  18. falc says:

    did anyone else use the link to try to get your free reports? i was curious and i tried but they would not give me the reports online for security reasons… they said i have to mail them the forms to get the info. that made me nervous. when i checked back in 2006 before my wife and i bought our house we had no problems checking online…

  19. savvy999 says:

    @corthepirate, @erikw: My spouse had the same of thing on her credit report, but it was *not* a case of theft, just simple mixup– someone with the same first and last name (but different SSN) had their info on her report. At least it was an item ‘in good standing’, actually helped her credit score.

    Your cases may indeed be true fraud, but it could also be an honest mixup. Either way, follow up until everything is fixed.

  20. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    @falc: I remebember I tried last year and one of them successfully gave me the report online, while I know Equifax gave me the same message you got.

    I tried Equifax again and I got the same message so I printed out the form and made copies of my IDs so I will mail it off to them. Maybe their system is off.

  21. cotr says:

    Get Identity Guard. A bunch of places resell it like Citibank, Chase, BoA, and Costco. Costco has the cheapest price though. Ive been a member for a year now. 7.49/mo with costco executive membership gets me my three reports and scores every 30 days.

  22. Bozman8 says:

    This also came to me two days after I was a victim of identity theft…

    Fraudulent withdrawls…$2,900
    Living off my Discover Card for ten business days…$500
    Credit Report…$10
    Knowing the azzholes who stole my money got to enjoy NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans….priceless

  23. LankanDude says:

    I think the government is ignoring the obvious solution to identity theft and try to find work arounds.
    What they should do is rather than provide an annual free credit report every person should have unlimited free access to his credit reports and credit scores.
    Basically a free version of

  24. johnva says:

    @Angryrider: Some people have their identity stolen and used to open credit accounts even before they turn 18. Another thing that is fairly common (and really sucky) is for parents who have bad credit to use their children’s names and social security numbers to get credit cards, etc. That’s even worse than “stranger” identity theft because it screws people before they even get a chance in the world and forces them to possibly call the cops on their own parents to get it cleared up.

  25. johnva says:

    @LankanDude: Agreed. It should not be legal for the credit reporting agencies to charge money to see your own reports or scores if they are allowed to make money by selling that info to others.

  26. buck09 says:

    That last link is going to FTC.COM, not FTC.GOV – They have a great 404 page, so I suspect that they get a lot of donations from people who mistype the URL, feel guilty and contribute before moving on. I did…

  27. Radoman says:

    The biggest problem with ID theft is that no authority cares to enforce the law. My cousin had his SS number stolen. The IRS came a callin’ to ask for taxes for all this extra income the thief generated. He was able to clear his name with the IRS and even found out where the thief worked. The IRS didn’t care, or pursue charges.. The company where the thief worked didn’t care. The local police where the thief lived didn’t care or pursue charges.

    There is still an illegal alien using all my cousins info and no one cares to stop him.

    I’m not real fond of national ID, but stories like this make me see it as more of a necessity.

  28. aikoto says:

    If it doesn’t mention credit freezes, then it’s a waste of time.

  29. maddypilar says:

    @aikoto: It does.

  30. yagisencho says:

    My 700+ credit rating should be restored by the end of March. Why the rating dip? My identity was stolen two years ago.

    I found out about the theft while traveling overseas, but thankfully was able to freeze my accounts then and there. The credit reporting agencies were somewhat helpful during the ordeal, and AmEx was fantastic. But the scammed businesses couldn’t be bothered to reverse the ‘hard pulls’ on my credit rating, so it’s been artificially low for the past two years.

    Lessons learned:
    * Always inform revolving credit agencies of overseas travel periods (beforehand).
    * If a mailing or document has your name, address, or any ID number on it whatsoever, shred it in a cross-shredder before recycling.
    * Subscribe to a credit watching service and/or place a freeze on any new accounts.
    * Place a spoken password on any and all financial accounts that you can. Unfortunately, not all institutions offer this safeguard.
    * Change any account passwords on shopping sites regularly, and make them as secure as possible.
    * Do not allow online merchants to save credit card #s in their system for the sake of convenience. Amazon is especially bad about this, as they don’t ask – they just save it. You have to remove the card # after each order has been placed.
    * Police are sympathetic, but absolutely powerless to help you in most cases. Nonetheless, report the ID theft immediately to your local police department. The credit reporting agencies and financial institutions will want the case # for their records.
    * Never place outgoing mail in an unsecured mail box.

  31. maxpower1 says:

    I think some of you are confusing the questions the credit bureaus ask on the web as facts. They might ask about “a mortgage taken out in 2005,” but if you didn’t take one out, you choose the “none of the above” answer for the payment size. It is just there to check if you know your own history. Don’t be alarmed until you see something suspicious on your actual credit report. The security questions can be about anything, whether or not it pertains to you.

  32. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Angryrider: Yes.

    Some don’t even try to hide it. I’ve gotten applications with the name of my college filled in on the form.

  33. keith4298 says:

    Just got mine in the mail yesterday.