Preventing Identity Theft

According to the 2007 Identity Fraud Report, approximately 8.4 million people were victims of identity theft in 2007 and most of these victims accumulated fraudulent charges against them – to the tune of around $6,000.00. Identity theft is a growing concern and in this case, knowledge is power. Learning how to fight identity theft can keep you from being a victim.

Top 5 Warning Signs

If you see one or more of the following signs, you may be a victim of identity theft.

  1. You notice that you haven't received one or more of your regular monthly bills. This can mean that the thief has put in a change of address for your name – probably so he or she can receive stolen goods.
  1. You receive telephone calls from bill collectors, debt collection agencies or merchants who claim that you owe them money for unfamiliar items or services.
  1. You are denied credit when you try to receive financing, apply for credit cards or apply for a loan when you know your credit score should be good or above average.
  1. You notice unfamiliar charges on your credit card statements or bank statements.
  1. When looking at a copy of your credit report, you see debts or payments in default that do not belong to you.

If you see one or more of these warning signs, you need to act immediately. While creditors and credit bureaus often make mistakes, you shouldn't take the chance. Here are the most effective ways of stopping identity theft once it has started.

If you need help regarding identity theft, contact one of our experienced Consumer Protection Lawyers in your area today!

Stopping Identity Theft:

If you notice strange charges to your bank account, make a visit to the bank immediately. Many banks have identity theft protection plans, so it's possible that you can receive your money back if you act quickly.

  • Show your bank the charges that don't belong to you.
  • Stop payment on any active checks. and
  • Cancel any debit or check cards.
  • It may also be necessary to cancel your current bank account and set up a new one.

If you notice activity on your credit report that is unfamiliar, you also need to act quickly.

  • Contact all three credit bureaus to dispute unfamiliar charges.
  • Call the merchant companies listed on your credit report and inform them of the situation.
  • Call the authorities and explain the situation.

Important Contact Information:

You can report identity theft to the following organizations.

Federal Trade Commission – 1-877-IDTHEFT

Federal Bureau of Investigation –

Local Law Enforcement

Credit Bureaus:

  • Equifax – P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta, GA 30374 – 1-800-685-1111
  • Experian – P.O. Box 2002 Allen, TX 75013 – 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion – P.O. Box 1000 Chester, PA 19022 – 1-800-888-4213

By reporting the identity theft, you can help stop the accumulated fraudulent charges and protect your identity.

Preventing Identity Theft from Happening to You:

There are several steps you can take to prevent identity theft from becoming a problem for you. If you are very careful with your personal information, you can prevent identity theft – which is much easier than trying to stop it.

  • Get a Paper Shredder – Make sure you shred all of your bills, credit card statements, bank statements and any other document that contains personal information before throwing it away. Identity thieves have been known to obtain personal information from victims' trash.
  • Be Cautious Online – While most online shopping sites have protection processes in place, you can never be too careful. Make sure a site uses encryption and that your information will be safe before shopping online. If you're still nervous, use an online payment service like PayPal so your information cannot be obtained.
  • Don't Trust the Phone – Never give your information out over the telephone. Even if the person on the other line says they are a representative of your bank, your financing company or something similar – tell them you will have to call them back or see them in person. Thieves are very convincing on the telephone and you should never give your information out over the telephone to anyone.

By preventing identity theft, you will not have to use resources, time and energy to track down people who have your information and try to get your money back. Identity theft is growing as individuals develop more ways to get personal information from people. The information above shows you how to fight it.

Do you need help regarding consumer protection matters? If so, contact one of our experienced Consumer Protection Lawyers in your area today!