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Identity theft: It can happen to anyone

10 tips to protect yourself and your family

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  3181 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

10.) Be careful when using your credit card or your ATM card. Don't let your card out of your sight when you travel -- it's too easy for someone to record your card number before they give your card back to you. Avoid using free-standing ATMs in public places -- tiny cameras can easily capture your card number and PIN, and some machines can be rigged to skim your account information; your best bet is to use a cash machine inside a bank or a well-known establishment. 

If your identity does get stolen, the FTC recommends that you do these four things immediately:

1.) Contact one the three credit agencies and request that they place a fraud alert on your credit reports. The big three are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and whichever one you contact is required by law to notify the other two. This allows them to flag any activity or changes to your credit and may prevent a thief from opening a new line of credit using your information. It will not, however, prevent someone from using an existing account that's still open or opening new accounts that do not require a credit check.

2.) Close the account that you know has been affected or opened fraudulently. If you have to open another account, make sure you request a completely new account number and create a different PIN and/or password. Make sure you tell the company that you want to dispute the transaction, and follow up with the correct forms and procedures.

3.) File a complaint with the FTC. You can file a complaint with the FTC online, by calling their Identity Theft Hotline at 877-438-4338, or by writing to Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.

4.) File a report with your local police and with the police in the community where the fraud took place. Be sure the give them a copy of the letter or a printout of the online form filed with the FTC for their records. If the police are reluctant to file a report about identity theft (some are), request that they help you file a "miscellaneous incident report" and tell them that you need it in order to dispute the fraudulent account(s).

The best way to protect you and your family from identity theft is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

About the Author

Lylah M. Alphonse is a journalist, blogger, and mom and stepmom to five kids. She is a Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine, writes about juggling full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day here at Work It, Mom!, and blogs about everything else at WriteEditRepeat.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

Read more by Lylah M. Alphonse




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