I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent
the government from wasting the labors of the people
under the pretense of taking care of them.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the number of identity theft incidents reached 9.9 million in 2003. These crimes are estimated to have taken the average victim $500 and 30 hours to resolve. From stolen credit cards to total identity kidnapping, these ugly and prevalent crimes are hard to prevent and often difficult to correct. Although it is hard to truly avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, TrueCredit recommends a few ways you can guard against this damaging crime.
To have credit report information at your fingertips is the best way to shut an identity thief down--you can begin the process of notifying your creditors of the fraud, changing your passwords, and closing down fraudulent accounts before they wind up in the hands of collectors and compromise your good credit.
Types of identity theft
Identity theft crimes range from purse snatchings to kingpin-style fraud rings. The definition of identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personal information, such as a Social Security number, in order to impersonate someone else. Identity theft can occur when someone takes your mail, steals your wallet or swipes your records from an institution. Most cases can be resolved fairly easily if they are caught early. Creditors and banks usually hold you responsible for only the first $50 of fraudulent charges. The most serious cases of fraud can take several years and many resources to resolve.
In this world of smiling strangers, it can be tough to keep your identity safe. The best security policy is to be aware of fraud and cautious about where you share personal information. Check your account statements carefully each month and keep an eye out for suspicious activity on your credit report. A paper shredder can also be a powerful tool for making sure personal information and pre-approved credit offers don't end up in the wrong hands.
If your identity is stolen
If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, the first step is to get all the facts about the damage. Become your own detective search your credit report and bank accounts for clues. Ask your creditors to immediately cancel any fraudulent charges and consider putting a security alert on your credit report. If the theft is serious, file a police report. If fraudulent records start to show up on your credit report , send letters of dispute to the reporting agencies with copies of documentation supporting your claim. Signing up with a credit monitoring service will inform you of changes to your credit. It may take a while to fully recover the security of your accounts, but it’s crucial that you don't let the fraud escalate.
How identity theft occurs
Identity theft is one of the nation’s fastest-growing crimes, affecting more than 9 million people each year. The more you know about this prevalent crime, the better prepared you will be to protect yourself. Identity thieves can get hold of your personal information in a variety of sneaky and illegal ways:
Stealing your information
Buying your information from a third party
While pretending to be you, thieves:
Minimize your risk
By managing your personal information carefully and sensibly, you can help guard against identity theft. TrueCredit recommends a few simple precautions to keep your personal information safe:
When you find signs of identity theft on your credit report , it is important to notify the proper authorities. These are some of the people you need contact first. Your Financial Institutions - Your first step should be to contact the bank, creditor or lender associated with the account that has been used fraudulently. Work with these institutions to lock the account and investigate the damages. The Credit Reporting Agencies - You only need to call one credit reporting bureau if you would like to place a fraud alert on your account. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureau will be notified to also place fraud alerts on your account.
Pack your bags and prepare your finances
Whether you're planning your trip to Las Vegas or Venice, including a few financial arrangements in your preparations will help keep your credit reports safe and your mind free of worries while you are away:
There was a widely distributed email which has been warning people that the credit bureaus are going to change their information privacy policies. This is not true. The credit bureaus are not changing their privacy policies.
Credit reporting agencies already have the right to share your credit report information with legitimate businesses such as potential lenders, creditors and other requestors covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The whole credit reporting industry revolves around the agencies’ ability to share this information with businesses that have a valid need for the data under the FCRA. This incorrect email is probably the result of a misunderstanding concerning the Financial Services Modernization Act that was enacted July 1, 2001. This act required financial institutions to explain their information sharing policies and to give customers the option to opt-out of marketing offers. If you want to opt-out of this type of pre-approved credit offer and other 3rd party mailings, simply ask your financial institutions to remove your name from their marketing lists.
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