FIGHTING BACK AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can cost you time and money. It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name.
Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.
Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements.
Be alert to signs that require immediate attention:
Your credit report. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history.
Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it.
Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain.
Close accounts. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
File a police report. File a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
To learn more about ID theft and how to deter, detect, and defend against it, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft, or request copies of ID theft resources by writing to:
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, H-130
Washington, DC 20580
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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