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Consumer Education

 

It’s Your Identity. Handle With Care.

Identity theft, when a criminal assumes someone else’s identity – including name, birth date, Social Security Number, and financial accounts – primarily for financial gain, is a growing concern in the U.S.  You can help prevent identity theft by following these common sense reminders and knowing your rights.

PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY

  • Check your credit report twice a year and examine it thoroughly.  This will reveal any accounts that may have been opened without your knowledge.
  • Add a statement to your credit file that prohibits the granting of credit without calling you to confirm the application.
  • Carry only the credit card you would use in an emergency.  Do not carry your Social Security card.
  • Record the names, account numbers, and customer service numbers of all cards you carry.  This way you will have the necessary information if you need to cancel your cards immediately.
  • Make it difficult for thieves to get “identifying information” from your mail and mailbox.  Take envelopes containing checks and other sensitive information directly to the post office instead of leaving them in your mailbox.
  • Shred or secure in a lockbox all documents with important identifying information on them such as bank statements, credit card statements, and pay stubs.
  • Write “see ID” or “always check ID” on the back of your cards.
  • Do not have your driver’s license or Social Security Number printed on your checks.

IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM

  • Call your credit card issuers immediately to cancel your card(s) and close your account(s).
  • Contact your local police department to file a report documenting the theft.
  • Contact the major credit reporting agencies to verify and correct the information in your credit report.  Request a freeze or security alert of your credit report.
  • Document all correspondence with the police department, credit issuers, and credit reporting agencies.  File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.org) if your case in not resolved to your satisfaction.

YOUR RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER

  • You may initiate a criminal investigation if you know or suspect you are a victim of identity theft.
  • You may have the right to receive a copy of the documents submitted to a credit grantor by the suspected identity thief.
  • Credit card customers should be notified if their information might be shared with marketers and must be given the opportunity to prohibit the sharing of their information.
  • Financial institutions and other businesses should no longer use your Social Security Number as an account number.
  • Consumers may be able to block information on their credit report that directly relates to an investigation of identity theft.

Identity theft is serious business.  Help prevent it by following these useful guidelines.

Source: Star Systems © 2003
 
 

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