Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Are you an identity theft victim?

1 in 12 Americans will become victims of identity theft.

- Today Show / MSNBC

How Can I Tell It’s Happened?

Your identity can be stolen by obtaining bank statements, credit card applications, checks from your trash or mail, purse or wallet, or getting your debit card number from a corporate database. Once a person has this information, he can wreck your good name. Since the crime may take days or even weeks before you noticed what happened, it’s easy for the criminal to commit several crimes before you’ve realized what occurred. This crime leaves your credit history in a mess and can take years to rebuild it.

Warning signs someone may have stolen your identity:

  • Checks disappear from your checkbook.
  • Your credit report shows accounts you didn’t open.
  • A call from a collection agency about a debt you didn’t incur.
  • Bank and billing statements don’t arrive on time.
  • A bill from a credit account you didn’t open.
  • Unauthorized charges on your debit, long distance or bank accounts.
  • You are turned down for a loan, mortgage or other forms of credit because of unauthorized debts on your credit report.

What Do I Do?

If you think you are a victim:

  • File a report with your local police department and keep a copy of the report for your personal records.
  • Obtain a copy of your credit report and look for any suspicious activity.
  • Report any suspicious charges and accounts to the appropriate credit issuers and credit bureaus immediately via the phone and in writing. Cancel the accounts.
  • If your purse or wallet is stolen, cancel all cards immediately and get replacements. Also, put a “stop payment” on all lost or stolen cards.
  • Contact the three main credit reporting companies to put a fraud alert on your credit report.

The three main credit reporting bureaus are Experian in Texas, Equifax in Georgia, and Trans Union in Pennsylvania. You can report fraud or get a copy of your credit report by reaching one of these companies. Once you report to one bureau, the other two agencies will be sent the report. A fraud alert will be put on your account by each company and you will be sent a copy of your credit report.

Dave Ramsey is the author of The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Dave is changing the face of America by helping people get out of debt and build wealth. Ramsey exemplifies his life's work of teaching others how to be financially responsible, so they can acquire enough wealth to take care of loved ones, live prosperously into old age, and give generously to others. Read more of what Dave has to say about identity theft.

1 comment:

The Financial Blogger said...

I would add that, unfortunately, insurance against identity theft is a waste of money. I wrote an article on the subject not so long ago: