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March 2012 Archives

FIGHT BACK AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT


It happened to me once. 
While out shopping, someone bumped into me.  I didn’t think much about it until I went to
check out and my wallet was missing! 
With my heart pounding, I rushed back to the office to cancel all my
credit cards and to try to prevent identity theft.  I was lucky. 
The only charge was for gas on my fuel credit card before I had reached
the company.  My identity remained
intact.



But what steps would I have taken if that had not been the
end of it?  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
has a four-step plan you should undertake as soon as you suspect fraudulent
activity has taken place with your identity.


First, immediately file a fraud
alert on all three of the major consumer credit reporting companies.  They are: TransUnion (800-680-7289), Equifax
(888-766-0008) and Experian (888-397-3742). 
As long as you notify at least one of the companies, it is required to
alert the other two.  After the alert has
been filed, request a free copy of your credit report from each of the
companies.  Review each one thoroughly
for any suspicious activity.  If you find
any incorrect or fraudulent information, write a letter correcting it.  Continue to monitor your credit history at
least annually.


Second, close any accounts that
were fraudulently opened or were used or tampered with.  In order to do that, contact the fraud
department of the financial institution that issued the credit.  Call and then follow up in writing with proof
of the fraud, including any written documentation that supports your claim.


Third, contact your local police
department.  The police report can serve
as some of the supporting documentation in reporting the fraudulent
activity.  Additionally, the details you
provide can assist the police in locating the criminal and preventing the same
from happening to someone else.


Last, file a complaint with the
FTC.  This also provides documentation of
the fraud and provides a way for law enforcement around the country to track
and catch the thieves.  Contact the FTC
on the Identity Theft Hotline at 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).


Identity theft is horrible.  I hope it never happens to you.  But if it does, now you know what to do.

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