Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.
Warning Signs Of Identity Theft
- Your monthly credit card and bank statements suddenly stop arriving.
- You are denied credit for reasons that do not match your understanding of your financial position.
- You start getting bills from companies you do not recognize.
- You observe unusual entries on your credit report.
- A creditor calls to say you've been approved or denied credit that you haven't applied for. Or, you get credit card statements for accounts you don't have.
Preventing Identity Theft
- Guard your Social Security Number. Give it out only when it is absolutely necessary.
- Minimize the amount of personal financial information and credit cards you carry. Memorize passwords and PINs instead of carrying them with you.
- Keep personal financial information in a secure place in your home. Shred identifying information before throwing it away.
- Do not give sensitive information to unsolicited callers. Remember that most legitimate businesses will not ask for your Social Security or bank account numbers.
- Shield your hand when entering your PIN at a bank ATM or when making long distance calls with a calling card.
- Pick up new checks or a new or reissued credit card at your bank rather than having them delivered to your home. Do not have your driver license number or social security number printed on your checks.
- Check your credit report each year for signs of unusual activity.
- If your bank or credit card statement does not arrive on time, call the issuer to make sure they are being sent to the proper address. Also contact the Post Office to see if a change of address has been filed in your name. A thief may steal or divert your statements to hide illegal activity.
If You Have Been The Victim Of Identity Theft
- Contact the Houston Police Department immediately at 713.884.3131
- Contact the following credit reporting agencies: Trans Union (800.680.7289, tuc.com), Equifax (800.525.6285, equifax.com), and Experian (888.397.3742, experian.com).
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission at 877.IDTHEFT
- Review your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months (877.322.8228, annualcreditreport.com).
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