Stop Identity Theft in Three Steps


NUMEROLOGY

Your credit card bill arrives in the mail and you spot what might be a fraudulent charge—an item purchased in a place you’ve never been or something you know you didn’t buy. How do you correct the error?

STEP 1. Call the credit card company immediately to inform them of the fraud. (You should have photocopies of your credit cards and contact numbers stored in a safe place for just this kind of emergency.) The creditor should reverse the charge and lock your account. Be sure to write down the dates, times and names of anyone you speak to.

STEP 2. Contact the credit reporting agencies to report the crime and ask them to place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit report. You need to contact only one of the three agencies—TransUnion ( www.transunion.com ), Equifax ( www.equifax.com ) or Experian ( www.experian.com )—to have an alert put on all three reports. The alert will notify creditors that you may be a credit fraud victim and warn them to verify your identity before opening any new accounts. Fraud resolution experts at each agency can help you check your credit data for other signs of identity theft.

STEP 3. Go to the Federal Trade Commission Web site ( www.ftc.gov ) and file an ID theft affidavit. You can use this worksheet to report fraud to creditors. If the matter escalates beyond credit card fraud, you also should file a police report with local law enforcement authorities.

Source: TrueCredit, a provider of consumer credit management services, www.truecredit.com .

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