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Steps to Protect Your Information

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Steps to Protect Your Information

There are a number of steps that are always available to protect against identity theft:

  • Some state laws, including those in Massachusetts, allow you to place a security freeze on your credit reports. This would prohibit a credit reporting agency from releasing any information from your credit report without your written permission. You should be aware, however, that placing a security freeze on your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prevent the timely approval of any requests you make for new loans, credit, mortgages, employment, housing or other services.

    If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft and you provide the credit reporting agency with a valid police report, it cannot charge you to place, lift or remove a security freeze on your credit reports. In all other cases, a credit reporting agency may charge you up to $5.00 each time you place, temporarily lift, or permanently remove a security freeze.

    To place a security freeze on your credit report, you must send a written request to each of the three credit reporting agencies noted below, which must include the following information: (1) Full name (including middle initial as well as Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.); (2) Social Security Number; (3) Date of birth; (4) Addresses for the prior five years; (5) Proof of current address; (6) A legible copy of a government issued identification card; (7) A copy of any relevant police report, investigative report, or complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft and (8) If you are not a victim of identity theft, include payment by check, money order, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover only). Do not send cash though the mail.

    Mail by regular, certified or overnight mail to the addresses below:
     

    Equifax
    P.O. Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374
    800-525-6285
    www.equifax.com
     

    Experian
    P.O. Box 9532
    Allen, TX 75013
    888-397-3742
    www.experian.com
     

    TransUnionCorp
    Fraud Assistance Division
    P.O. Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92834
    800-680-7289
    www.transunion.com
     

    The credit reporting agencies have three (3) business days after receiving your request to place a security freeze on your credit report. They must also send written confirmation to you within five (5) business days and provide you with a unique personal identification number (PIN) or password, or both that can be used by you to permit the removal or lifting of the security freeze.

    To lift a security freeze to allow a specific entity or individual access to your credit report, you must call or send a written request to the credit reporting agencies by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and social security number) and the PIN number or password originally provided to you when you placed the security freeze. You also will need to provide the identities of those entities or individuals you would like to receive your credit report or the specific period of time you want the credit report to be available. The credit reporting agencies have three (3) business days after receiving your request to lift the security freeze for those identified entities or for the period of time you have specified.

    To remove a security freeze, you must send a written request to each of the three credit bureaus by mail and include proper identification (name, address, and Social Security number) and the PIN number or password provided to you when you placed the security freeze. The credit bureaus have three (3) business days after receiving your request to remove the security freeze.
  • You may also place a fraud alert on your credit report. This can help prevent someone from opening additional accounts in your name or changing your existing accounts. You can call any one of the three major credit reporting agencies listed above. As soon as one agency confirms your fraud alert, the others will be notified automatically of the alert.

  • You may also order a copy of your credit report from the agencies listed above. You are entitled to receive a free credit report annually from each of these three credit agencies.

  • In addition, if you believe that you have been the victim of identity theft, you have the right to file a police report and obtain a copy of it. Many creditors will want the information from the police report before excusing you from paying for any fraudulent charges or debts.

  • Under some state laws, including those in Massachusetts, you have the right to obtain a copy of any police report made in connection with this matter. Please note that to date South Shore Hospital has not filed any police reports in connection with this matter.

  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or at (877) ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).

  • Here are some things that could alert you to whether your medical information could have been used by someone else:

    • Getting a bill for medical services you didn’t receive.
    • Being contacted by a debt collector about medical debt you don’t owe.
    • Seeing medical collection notices on your credit report that you do not recognize.
    • Attempting to make a legitimate insurance claim and discovering your health plan says you’ve reached your limit on benefits.
    • Being denied insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
    • Noticing on a statement from your health plan that the health plan paid claims for care you did not receive.

If you believe someone else may have used your medical information, you may wish to consider taking additional steps which are outlined on the Federal Trade Commission’s website at http://www.ftc.gov.

  • Consumer protection information also is available by visiting the Massachusetts Attorney General’s website at www.mass.gov/ago.

    

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