How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

While nothing is ever foolproof you can learn how to protect yourself from identity theft. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America today with victims reporting new cases to authorities at an alarming rate.

Last year alone in 2004, more than 9.9 million Americans were victims of identity theft scams. Those crimes cost them nearly $5 billion. That number of victims and their losses are probably much higher. Several cases go unreported because people are either embarrassed that it happened to them or have no idea where to report it when it does happen.

First, here are a few ways to prevent identity theft so you have less chance of it happening to you. A very important step in learning how to avoid identity theft is to keep a close watch on all of your personal information and your credit report.

Check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus at least once a year to see that everything is accurate. If you find an error, dispute it immediately so you can protect yourself against fraud. Similar names and similar social security numbers often get mixed up, or even worse, someone could have stolen your identity.

Another way to prevent identity theft is not to carry your Social Security card or anything with your Social Security number on it in your wallet. Keep your social security number private because someone could easily steal your identity with your number.

The same goes for your bank card pin number because it makes it easy for a thief who has stolen your wallet to help themselves to your bank account at an A.T.M.

Other ways to prevent identity theft also need to be applied to the Internet. If you use the Internet, make sure all your security software like virus protection and spyware software is up to date. Be aware of Internet scams that ask for any personal or password information.

Legitimate businesses will never send you an e-mail asking you to confirm your personal identifying information. So never give out personal information unless you initiated the contact or you’re absolutely sure who you’re dealing with.

Also be especially careful about giving your credit card number over the phone to telemarketers. While most companies are legitimate this is a popular way for thieves to obtain your name, address and credit card number.

So what happens if you do become a victim and what is involved in reporting identity theft? Here is the information for the agencies you need to contact.

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.

Equifax: 800-525-6285

Experian: 888-397-3742

TransUnion: 800-680-7289

2. Close all of the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use an ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts. The credit bureaus will help you with this step.

3. File a police report. Get a copy of the police report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime. If you don’t file the police report you may have trouble proving this actually happened.

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 them learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft . The FTC provides educational materials and self-help tools, as well as an online reporting form. The FTC also maintains a toll-free hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT, with consumer counselors available to assist victims.

If you’ve had bank accounts set up fraudulently in your name, call these check guarantee companies: Telecheck at 800-366-2425; and the International Check Services Company at 800-526-5380. They can flag your file so that counterfeit checks will be refused.

If your crime was email related, the best place to report email scams is The Internet Fraud Complaint Center or (IFCC). They are a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). Their web address is: http://www1.ifccfbi.gov

The bottom line is keep any personal information about you private so you won’t become a new victim of this terrible crime. Using these tips to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft and reporting it to the proper authorities will give you a better chance of avoiding this nightmare for you and everyone around you.

Copyright © 2005 Spyware Information.com All Rights Reserved.

This article is provided by http://www.spyware-information.com where you will find free spyware cleaners, downloads, removal software, valuable tips and updated articles about adware and spyware removal programs to protect your identity. For other informative spyware and adware articles go to http://spyware-information.com/articles_1.html

 Mail this post
StumbleUpon It!

Comments are closed.