How Can I Protect Myself From Identity Theft?
North American Precis Syndicate
Knowing your credit and making a budget now can protect you from unpleasant surprises in the months ahead. (NAPS)
(NAPSI)-While there are many advantages to living in a connected world,
the rise in cybercrime poses risks to our personal
information. So how can you safeguard this information while enjoying online
opportunities to achieve your financial goals?
One important way you can help protect your identity is by regularly
reviewing your credit reports. Doing so is not only a responsible habit to
begin as you establish your credit history, it can also be a way to identify
incomplete or inaccurate information, as well as accounts that may have been
opened erroneously. For free copies of your credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
“Reviewing your credit reports is an easy way to monitor your
financial commitments,” says Francis J. Creighton, president and CEO of
the Consumer Data Industry Association. “While lenders and
credit-reporting companies have a number of sophisticated security protocols
in place to help prevent identity theft and fraud, there may still be
instances where a criminal can gain access to your personal information and
cause a problem.”
After you receive your credit reports, review them carefully to make sure
all the accounts are yours. If you notice an account that you don’t
recognize, or something is not correct, contact the credit-reporting agency
as soon as possible to communicate the discrepancy. You can contact all three
nationwide credit-reporting agencies online, by phone or by mail. Whichever method
you choose, the credit-reporting agency will investigate disputed information
and respond back to you with the results.
In a case of identity theft, the credit-reporting agency will work with
you to place a fraud alert on your credit reports that can help prevent
erroneous transactions from appearing in the future. A fraud alert informs
creditors that you may have been a victim of fraud, and encourages them to
take steps to contact you to verify your identity. Once a fraud alert is in
place, you can choose to remove it at any time online. Under federal law,
fraud alerts are free and are shared among the three credit-reporting
If you have been a victim of identity theft and false accounts have been
opened in your name, you may want to consider a security freeze. A security
freeze restricts access to your credit report without your permission and may
prevent unauthorized individuals from opening new accounts in your name.
These are free for identity theft victims and, depending on the state, senior
citizens as well. For all other consumers, there may be a fee, based on
individual state laws. Consumers should keep in mind that security freezes
aren’t for everyone, especially those who are actively seeking credit
or plan to apply for credit in the future, such as for making a large
purchase or applying for a loan.
It’s important to safeguard your information wherever you can.
Regularly checking your credit reports to make sure your information is
correct, and being aware of the tools available to help you protect your
identity, are great places to start. Consumers interested in getting copies
of their free credit reports should visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)