The fall season is fast approaching and soon that will mean holiday shopping. Imagine standing in the line that seems never ending in a department store and hear the cashier say to the person in front of you, “Thanks for shopping with us Mrs. Smith.” It catches your attention because it’s your last name as well, but then you shrug it off because there are millions of people with the same name. But then when you go to hand your credit card to the cashier, and it’s rejected because it’s now maxed out, your heart stops. The first thoughts running through your head are, “How could this be?” Shortly after you find out that your identity has been stolen, but the theft who stole your identity is already long gone leaving little traces or where and whom she is going to target next. Unfortunately people’s identities get stolen all the time even when people think their personal information is safe and secure.
InCharge Debt Solutions found that a recent study done by a leading research group showed that 1 in 5 Americans, totaling 44 million people, have become victims of identify theft. However there are precautions to take to secure that your funds are unreachable by these criminals.
• 1) Contact the fraud departments of one of the three major credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and place a fraud alert on your credit file immediately. From then on you are protected under fraud alert where each creditor will have to contact you before opening any new accounts or making changes to any existing accounts. After you contact one of the three credit bureaus, the other two will be notified as well to place fraud alerts. After the alert has been placed, you may order a copy for free of your credit report from all three credit bureaus.
• 2) Close whatever accounts you know or believe might have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts. The affidavit has two parts. Part one consists of the ID Theft Affidavit itself, which is where you report general information about yourself and the theft. The second part is the Fraudulent Account Statement, which is where you would describe the fraudulent account(s) opened in your name. Use a separate statement for each company you need to write to.
• 3) Next, file a police report. Be sure to get a copy of the report and submit it to your creditors and any others that might need proof of the crime.
• 4) Lastly, file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is responsible for maintaining a database of all identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. By filing a complaint with them, it will also help them learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are facing so these problems can be prevented in the future.
• 5) One additional step is to talk with your creditors. One company that does a good job of making sure its clients aren’t affected is InCharge Debt Solutions. What they do and other companies might do as well is contact their customers occasionally to discuss their financial matters. At InCharge each client is assigned to a personal care counselor whom they will talk their matters over with as long as they are at InCharge for. These certified counselors are responsible for making sure the clients get educated and any necessary information regarding their road to financial success. All information is kept confidential so privacy should not be an issue. If you feel that you may be a victim of identity theft and are an InCharge client feel free to call the telephone number listed on your statement and a personal care counselor would be happy to assist you.
Article by Kelly Kennedy