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  Identity TheftFriday, June 21st, 2024  

Identity Theft. Everyone is talking about it and we hear reports of it happening everywhere, to anyone. Even if you are very careful with all you financial and personal information, it can still happen to you. It's important that you regularly check that you are not being scammed. One of the things to check for in your past financial records is signs that there is inaccurate charges, or charges that you didn't make included in your debts. Chances are that you won't find any inaccuracies, but if you do and there is suspicious activity on your credit card statements, you might be a victim of identity theft.

If you know or suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, here are the actions you need to take. Immediately call Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); or TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289. Ask which ever one you call to place a fraud alert on your credit history. They will call the other consumer reporting agencies. Follow up by writing the consumer credit reporting agency you contacted by certified mail. This will stop the thief from opening any more accounts in your name. The three consumer reporting companies will send you free copies of your credit reports.

Next, close out any accounts that you know, or think, have been used or opened by the identity thief. Third, call the security or fraud department of each business that was taken in by this thief. Again, follow up in writing, and include copies of what documents you have that shows the thief's activity. Fourth, call the police or your Attorney General's office. Get a copy of the report they make so you can use it to prove you have filed a crime report to the businesses that were also taken in by this thief. Last call should be to the FTC. They will add it to their database and maybe get a profile on the thief that will result in his arrest.

When you open new accounts, use a new PIN and password. Use something that can't be tied back to any information you may have given the identity thief or that he got from other means. Don't use your mother's maiden name or your pet's name even though the credit card company will ask for them to identify you. Use a friend's name, or your neighbor's pet. Never use your Social Security number for a PIN or the last four of your phone number. Pick part of the serial number off of a dollar bill. Keep the bill until you have memorized the number and then spend it.

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