Frequently Asked Questions
Identity Theft

What is identity theft?
It's the act of using someone's personal information (such as a name, address, account number, driver's license number, Social Security number, health insurance number) without that person's knowledge, and using the assumed identity to commit fraud or theft. Go back

Is it serious? How many people become victims each year?
Yes, identity theft is a serious crime. Identity theft has topped the Federal Trade Commission´s national ranking of consumer complaints since 2000. Go back

What do thieves do with a stolen identity?
Once they have your personal information, identity thieves use it in a variety of ways.

  • Credit card fraud:
    • They may open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the cards and don't pay the bills, the delinquent accounts appear on your credit report
    • They may change the billing address on your credit card so that you no longer receive bills, and then run up charges on your account. Because your bills are now sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realize there's a problem
    • They may steal a pre-approved credit card application out of your mailbox, fill it out with a change of address (usually directing it to a vacant house) where they will obtain the card and begin charging on it - sticking you with the charges

  • Phone or utilities fraud:
    • They may open a new phone or wireless account in your name, or run up charges on your existing account
    • They may use your name to get utility services like electricity, heating, or cable TV

  • Bank/finance fraud:
    • They may create counterfeit checks using your name or account number
    • They may open a bank account in your name and write bad checks
    • They may steal your bank checks out of your mailbox and use them fraudulently
    • They may clone your ATM or debit card and make electronic withdrawals in your name, draining your accounts
    • They may take out a loan in your name

  • Government documents/Benefits fraud:
    • They may get a driver's license or official ID card issued in your name but with their picture on it
    • They may use your name and Social Security number to get government benefits
    • They may file a fraudulent tax return using your information

  • Other fraud:
    • They may get a job using your Social Security number.
    • They may rent a house or get medical services using your name.

Often, the personal information is used to get loans or open credit-card accounts. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn't make-or until you've been contacted by a debt collector or collection agency. Additionally, they may give your personal information to police during an arrest. If they don't show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest is issued in your name.

Aside from the expense and personal time required to resolve an identity theft, some victims who have had their identity stolen have lost job opportunities, been denied loans and housing, have had to pay higher deposits for utilities or cellular telephone contracts, and been left with destroyed credit and reputations. Go back

What are the various types of identity theft crimes?

  • According to the FTC, the breakdown is as follows:
    • 38% involve government documents or benefits fraud
    • 17% involve credit card fraud
    • 12.5% involve phone or utilities fraud
    • 8.2% involve bank fraud
    • 4.8% involve employment-related fraud
    • 4.4% involve loan fraud

Source: FTC, Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January - December 2014. Go back

How much does it cost to repair an identity theft?
While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others may spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of personal time repairing damage to their good name and credit record.

Occasionally, some victims have recurring problems. That is, the identity thief may try to strike again. To stay on top of the situation, continue to monitor your credit reports and read your financial account statements promptly and carefully. You may want to review your credit reports once every three months in the first year of the theft, and once or twice a year thereafter. Go back

Are businesses at risk of identity theft?
Yes. Identity thieves may steal records or personal information from customers at a business (or, in the case of medical fraud, patients). Thieves may hack (gain illegal access) into the company's computer system or bribe an employee who has access to these records.

A business could also become victim of a data breach - the unauthorized disclosure of information that compromises the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personally identifiable information. In fact, one of the most common data breach events involves a lost or stolen laptop computer that contains sensitive customer (or patient) information. Go back

Child Identity Theft

How can children have their identities stolen?
Children are the new favorite target of identity thieves worldwide. Law enforcement officials and consumer advocates report criminals are stealing the personal identifying information, specifically the Social Security numbers of children, thereby stealing their identities. The thief wreaks havoc on the child's credit history long before the child becomes legally eligible for credit lines.

Since the crimes usually aren't uncovered until the children try to establish credit (usually years later), by then it's too late - and the damage is done. Go back

How does a stolen child's identity affect them?
Unfortunately, without a credit monitoring product on the child, it could take many years before the crime is detected. A stolen identity may hinder the child from getting a job, a driver's license, an auto or student loan, or being admitted to college. What's more, once the crime has been uncovered, the clean up begins - which could take hundreds personal hours and substantial personal expense. If you know someone who has become a victim, they will attest to the fact that it is a very damaging and frustrating experience. Go back

How does a thief steal a child's Social Security number?
There are lots of ways a thief could get a hold of your child's Social Security number. For example, it could be stolen from the school nurse's office or your pediatrician's office. Or it could be stolen as a result of a data breach at a school or university - which usually involves a lost or stolen laptop computer containing sensitive personal information on its students. Go back

Why do kids have Social Security numbers?
There are several reasons. Parents who want to claim their child for a tax deduction are required to have a Social Security number for any child older than 12 months. They can acquire the number for a newborn by applying at the hospital where the baby was born, a Social Security office, by mail or they can receive the child's number by the Enumeration at Birth program. This process, which began in 1989, enables parents to simply fill out the information at the hospital when the child is born.

Additionally, children receive numerous requests for their Social Security numbers as proof of identity from schools, medical and insurance companies, financial institutions and cell phone providers. All of these sources become potential options for an identity thief. Go back

What if I keep my child's Social Security card in a safe place at home?
A thief doesn't have to physically steal your child's Social Security card - all they need is the number. That's why it's important to consider a credit monitoring product for your children/family. Go back

What do thieves do once they steal a child's Social Security number?
They are used to obtain credit cards, get driver's licenses or open bank and credit card accounts, falsely obtain a job, and file taxes. Often the information is sold for use by illegal immigrants or individuals attempting to "start over" in life and avoid arrest. Go back

Where do thieves get a child's personal information?

  • Lots of places. When you think about, a thief has many options, including, but not limited to:
    • Preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school or university
    • Doctor's office or medical insurance companies (many use SSN as the policy number)
    • Your kids' immunization records at schools or medical offices
    • Hospitals where you gave birth (specifically, the application for your new baby's SSN) Go back

How can an outsider obtain personal information on my child at school?
There could be someone at the school who steals this information and may sell it to an identity thief. However, the most common way is through a data breach - whereby a laptop computer containing sensitive personal information on students is lost or stolen.

Additionally, medical data breaches are on the rise as thieves and fraudsters tap into medical records which contain personal identifying information for both parents and children. Go back

So even if the thief has the child's Social Security number, how do they get away with it?
The reason is that credit agencies don't begin a credit history on an individual (regardless of their age) until the individual's identifying information is used to open a credit account. This information may include name, address, age and Social Security number. Thieves know this - along with the fact that neither the child nor the parents check to see if a credit report exists. This gives the thief plenty of time to create a "new life" using the child's information. Since the crimes usually aren't uncovered until the victims (child) try to establish credit, they can go undetected for years. Go back

What's being done to prevent child identity theft?
Well, the FTC launched a credit education campaign targeted to young people. Plus, they have launched several tools to assist parents on their website. However, one of the best early warning signs of child identity theft is to have a child identity monitoring product, such as Family Secure. Go back

Family SecureSM

What is Family Secure?
Family Secure was created by ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., an Experian company. Family Secure is a comprehensive monitoring system developed in response to the growing problem of child identity theft. Fraudsters know the average consumer does not check their own credit report on a regular basis, let alone their child's, so it gives them plenty of time to exploit the child's information without the parent's knowledge. Family Secure was developed to help parents fight back against child identity theft. Go back

What exactly does Family Secure do for me and my family?

  • Family Secure checks the parents and children's personal information against the Experian credit report database to see if there is a credit report associated with the parent or the child
  • It monitors the parents and the children's credit reports, not just for key changes but also for any suspicious activity
  • It provides email alert notification, allowing the parents to take appropriate action
  • It offers the parent unlimited access to their own credit report so the parent can keep a watchful eye on any unwarranted activity
  • Family Secure allows you to extend benefits to your spouse or one adult family member or friend at no additional cost (not available in all memberships)
  • Family Secure is backed by our team of Fraud Resolution representatives and our exclusive $2,000,000 guarantee, reimbursing you for certain expenses incurred should you or your enrolled children become victims of identity theft as a Family Secure member. Go back

Does it cost extra for Fraud Resolution assistance?
No! With Family Secure, you'll have toll-free access to our helpful Customer Care Center at any time during your membership. Plus, we offer specially trained Fraud Resolution representatives in case anyone in your family becomes a victim of identity theft. This is included as part of your Family Secure membership - there is no additional charge. Go back

Why does my child have a credit report?
There are several legitimate reasons for your child to have a credit report. Some credit card companies allow parents to add children to their credit cards. Your child might have a credit history if he or she is listed as an authorized user on your account. Additionally, many teenagers apply for auto loans and department store cards. Go back

Why can't I see my child's information online?
We take you and your children's privacy and security seriously. That's why we insist upon verifying your identity before we show you any of your children's personal information such as a Credit Report. Because there is no definite way for you to prove that you are the parent or guardian of your child online, we require you to fax documentation to us as proof. Once we have received this information and verified that you are the parent or guardian, you will be able to obtain a hard copy of your child's information in the mail. That way, no else can access your child's information. Go back

If I can obtain this information about my child's files, can't other people, too?
No. That is why you cannot view your child's Information online. You must first fax in documents proving that you are the parent or legal guardian before we will send your child's Credit Report. Go back

If I enroll my child, what will you do with my child's information?
When you enroll your children, we use their information to monitor their credit information. We are unable to monitor your children's personal information until you provide us with their first and last names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. Your children's information is safe with us, and will be used to verify their identities, and so we may begin monitoring their personal information. To learn more, please refer to our Privacy Policy. Go back

Can I monitor my child without enrolling myself in this product?
No. You must be an active member of our website to enjoy the valuable benefits of Family Secure, such as child protection. Go back

Does Family Secure really offer a $2 million Guarantee?
Yes. If you or your minor children become victims of identity theft while enrolled in Family Secure, ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. will reimburse your for certain identity theft expenses up to $2,000,000. Go back

What sort of expenses are covered in the $2 Million Guarantee?
You can find out more information by clicking on this link to our $2 Million Guarantee. Go back

How do I change the information on my credit report?
Experian® wants your credit information to be as accurate as possible. If you have reviewed your credit report and believe that the information is inaccurate, you can dispute it online for the fastest resolution. To access online disputes with Experian, go to a current online copy of your credit report and click on the link "DISPUTE INFORMATION."

To request an investigation into information you don't agree with on your Equifax or TransUnion credit report, you should write directly to the credit reporting company that supplied the information. For details, go to a current online copy of your credit report and click on the link "DISPUTE INFORMATION." Go back

How can I reactivate a deactivated child?
Once you have deactivated your child from Family Secure, you must contact our customer care team to reactivate that child. Simply call us at: 1-888-276-0529. Go back

Which credit reporting company's credit report do I receive?
Family Secure provides you with your complete Experian® credit report - one of three national credit reporting companies. Go back

Why didn't I get my online credit report?

  • Although we usually deliver online credit reports to our customers within seconds, there are some instances in which we are prohibited from doing so. These include:
    • When we are not able to verify your identity. For your security, we only deliver your credit report when you pass our online identity verification process.
    • When we are experiencing a technical issue.
    • When the credit reporting company does not return a credit report. Sometimes the credit reporting company does not have enough information to create a credit report for you. Go back

Why should I enroll in Family Secure?
There are several reasons. First, child identity theft is a relatively new crime. Chances are, it will only get worse. Second, compared to the cost of repairing an identity theft, it's a good bargain. Third, you want to protect your children every day of their lives, as well as give them the best life that you can. Why chance it with a potential child identity theft, which wreaks havoc on their personal identity when they need it most - while applying for a job, a loan, college or credit. Family Secure is a small price to pay to help protect you and your family from identity theft. Go back

Family Secure Credit Monitoring

What are credit monitoring alerts?
Your Experian credit report is monitored daily to see if key information has changed or if new data has been added. You will receive a monitoring alert if essential information has changed on your report. That way, you can identify fraudulent activity early in cases where credit activity is unfamiliar or unauthorized. A monthly "No Activity" email will be sent when no key changes have been posted to any of your three national credit reports in the past month. Go back

Which credit reporting company's credit report does Family Secure monitor?
Family Secure monitors your Experian Credit Report. You will be notified of several important changes to your Experian Credit Report and, if you choose, SMS Mobile Text messaging alerts. You'll know about new derogatory information, recent inquiries into your credit, and several indicators of possible Identity Theft. Remember, Family Secure members also receive unlimited copies of their Experian® Credit Report and PLUS Score. Go back

When will I receive my first daily monitoring alerts?
If you are a new member, please note that for parents and guardians it may take up to five to seven days from the date you ordered to be enrolled in the daily monitoring system. Go back

What do I do if I receive a Monitoring Alert?
First of all, don't panic! It doesn't necessarily mean that your child's identity has been compromised. If you receive an e-mail notifying you that there is an "alert" associated with you or your child, it simply means that personal information relating to you or your child's identity was detected. It can be a very legitimate event, in fact, one that you had authorized.

  • Call our Customer Care team to find out more information. If the monitoring alert is for your child, you need to prove that you are authorized to discuss the details of the alert. To do so, you'll need the following handy:
    • Signed copy of Parent/Guardian Certification
    • A copy of your child's birth certificate
    • A copy of your child's Social Security Card
    • A copy of your Driver's License or other government-issued ID
    • Documentation verifying your address (i.e., a recent utility bill)

If there really is fraudulent activity happening here, you will be assisted every step of the way by our team of specially trained Fraud Resolution representatives. Go back

Does it cost more to monitor all my children?
No. With Family Secure, you can monitor as many of your children as you like at no additional cost. Of course, once your child turns 18, they are legally an adult, and we can no longer monitor them within your Family Secure membership. However, they may be able to enroll in a similar credit monitoring product as an adult, just to be safe. Go back

Can I add my spouse or another family member to my account?
You may add your spouse to your Family Secure membership at no additional cost (not available in all memberships). You also have the option of extending Family Secure benefits to another adult family member or friend, in lieu of a spouse. You are limited, however, to adding one additional adult member at no extra cost. Go back

What benefits does the additional member receive?
The additional adult member enjoys all personal credit monitoring benefits, including daily monitoring of his/her Experian Credit Report, unlimited Experian Credit Reports and Scores, email alerts as well as the $2 Million Family Secure Guarantee. The additional member maintains a unique credit reporting page and has no access to you or your children's credit information. Go back

Can the additional member monitor my children?
No. Only you, the primary member, has access to your children's personal information or receives email alerts related to your children. Go back

Can I remove the additional adult member from my account?
You can remove the additional member from your account by calling the Customer Care Center at: 1-888-276-0529. You then have the option of extending Family Secure benefits to another family member or friend at no additional cost. Go back

How do I enroll for SMS Text Messaging alerts?
Alerts of key changes to your credit reports are always sent through email. As a member, you have the option to also receive alerts via SMS Mobile Text messaging.

To begin receiving SMS Text Messaging alerts, simply log in, and click the "Edit Profile" link from My Credit Center" to update your preferences. You are able to set up, modify, or cancel text message alerts from the Credit Center and using the My Account link for no additional cost.

If you need help, simply text HELP to the short code you are enrolled in from your mobile device.  To quit, simply text STOP to the short code you are enrolled in from your mobile device, or  opt-out from the Credit Center and using the My Account link.   Be advised, STANDARD AND MESSAGING DATA RATES MAY APPLY . Go back

How do I cancel my membership?
If for any reason you are not satisfied, you may cancel anytime to discontinue your membership to Family Secure and stop the monthly billing. However, you will not be eligible for a prorated refund of any portion of your current month's paid membership fee. To cancel, please contact Customer Care at 1-888-276-0529. Go back

General Questions

Is this site secure?
Yes, the process of sending and receiving your information is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. This technology helps ensure that your credit card and other sensitive information is protected. Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a protocol that ensures privacy between communicating applications and their users on the Internet. When a server and client communicate, TLS ensures that no third party may eavesdrop or tamper with any message. TLS is the successor to the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Preferred web browsers are: Microsoft Internet Explorer 10.0 or higher, Google chrome release 37 or higher, Mozilla Firefox release 29 or Higher or Safari 8.0 release and higher.

Our company has rigorous security screening processes set up by International Computer Security Associates (ICSA) and the credit reporting agencies, and we have also partnered with VeriSign, Inc. Go back

What browsers are supported?
We support current versions and prior major of the major web browsers in the marketplace. Using a current released browser and operating system ensures a higher degree of security as the vendor is committed to providing security patches. If you experience issues with your browser we suggest you upgrade to the latest version or try with a different vendors product.

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 or higher
  • Google chrome release 37 or higher
  • Mozilla Firefox release 29 or higher
  • Safari 8.0 release or higher
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What will happen to the information I enter?
The information that you provide is used to verify your identity and remains in our system. We do not resell or provide your credit information to any third-party marketers. Please see our privacy policy for full details about how we protect the information you submit to us. Go back

Will ordering my credit report appear as an inquiry on my credit report?
We are pulling your credit report on your behalf, so the inquiry on your credit report will not be shown to creditors and will not affect your credit score. Anytime your credit report is pulled - including when you order a copy of your credit report directly from the credit reporting company - an inquiry is added to your report. Only some of those inquiries appear to creditors and therefore impact your credit score. Inquiries that were made for credit cards or loans for which you applied will be shown to creditors. Inquiries added when you request a copy of your credit report or when an employer checks your credit report do not appear to creditors.

However, ALL inquiries will be displayed on copies of your credit file disclosure that you order directly from the credit reporting companies' consumer assistance centers. This is done so you know who has been looking at your credit. Some inquiries on your report are accompanied by a description of why the report was pulled. Go back

I don't have a credit card. Can I still purchase an online credit report?
Currently, we only accept credit card payments. Our system is not set up to accept checks or cash at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience. Go back

What is the refund policy if the transaction fails?
We don't charge your card unless you get your credit report or you complete the request. If we are unable to process your request, we will not charge your card. Please note that when you complete the order process, your credit card may be authorized for a charge, but that does not mean that it has been charged. Go back

Where is my report?
You may view the status of your orders by visiting the "Account Summary" section of your membership. Go back

Will my spouse's name and information appear on my report?
The credit reporting companies maintain credit files on individual U.S. residents only. They do not maintain joint files for spouses. Only accounts that are in both your names or those for which you are an authorized user will show up on your report. Therefore, your credit report is separate and different from your spouse's. Go back

How do I dispute possible inaccuracies on my credit report?
Experian® wants your credit information to be as accurate as possible. If you have reviewed your credit report and believe that the information is inaccurate, you can dispute it online for the fastest resolution. To access online disputes with Experian, go to a current online copy of your credit report and click on the link "DISPUTE INFORMATION".

To request an investigation into information you don't agree with on your Equifax or TransUnion credit report, you should write directly to the credit reporting company that supplied the information. For details, go to a current online copy of your credit report and click on the link "DISPUTE INFORMATION." Go back

Can I order someone else's report?
No. Under federal law, any person who knowingly and willfully obtains information on a consumer from a credit reporting company under false pretenses (for example, getting a credit report on an individual without his/her permission) shall be fined under Title 18 United States Code, or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both. Go back

What are my rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of the information in the files of credit reporting companies. Please click here for the summary of your major rights under the FCRA. Go back

What if I forget my Username and Password?
If you have forgotten your username or password, click "Forgot your password" at the customer login page. Enter your full name, last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, and date of birth, and click "Submit." You will then be prompted to enter your mother's maiden name, and answer the question you chose as your "Reminder Phrase." If you answer correctly, you will be prompted to change your password. Go back

What is your authentication process and what happens if I don't get authenticated instantly?
Generally, we can authenticate you online immediately after you place an order. If you order a product that is delivered instantly, and we are unable to verify your identity online, you have the option of going through further verification. We then deliver you a private access code via U.S. mail within five to seven days, which provides you full access to your report online. For your protection, if we are still unable to verify your identity, you will be referred to Customer Care. If you submit the required information, you are agreeing to purchase the report. Once your information is received, your identity will be manually verified. You will receive an email confirming the outcome within three business days. If your information is verified, your login information also will be provided in this email. You can then login at the site to view your report, which will be available online for 30 days. Go back

Why is there a sales tax and how is it calculated?

That depends on the state in which you reside. Certain orders may be subject to sales tax based on specific laws in your state of residence. Sales tax may be included on membership orders and any additional reports and scores that you purchase, such as a 3-Bureau report and score.

The address you provided during the order process is used to determine whether sales tax applies to your order(s) and if so, at what rate. Since sales tax rates may change over time, you might notice minor fluctuations in the membership fee.

Keeping your address up-to-date in our system will help ensure the sales tax is calculated accurately during each billing cycle. You can easily update your address information anytime by logging in to My Credit Center and using the Edit Profile section. You may also contact our Customer Care Team at 1-888-276-0529 for address changes. Go back

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