Identity Theft Basics
2. Place fraud alerts on your credit file
Equifax includes a free Automatic Fraud Alert* feature with Equifax Complete Premier and selected other products. This feature allows you to place an initial 90-day fraud alert on your Equifax credit file which will then be referred to the other nationwide credit reporting agencies. A fraud alert on your credit file is a good way to help prevent identity theft, as it notifies lenders that they should take steps to verify your identity, such as by contacting you before authorizing new or additional credit.
The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made
available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and is fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
3. Scan the Internet for your personal information with WebDetect™2
You probably already know your identity is one of your most valuable assets, but are you aware that thieves are buying complete identities — including names, Social Security Numbers, functioning credit card numbers and more — for as little as a few dollars? The trend in thieves getting information on suspected underground Internet trading sites continues to rise.** This escalation has allowed criminals to buy personal information in bulk, putting more and more people at risk of identity theft.
According to the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, Americans in 2009 reported losses of $559 million as a result of online fraud, with average losses running around $575.‡ As identity thieves become savvier, some have recruited hackers to defraud consumers of personal information.
The stolen data is usually sold through instant-message groups or online forums that last only hours or days, to avoid being tracked by authorities.
Now you can take action to help protect yourself against this new kind of identity theft. Equifax Complete Premier includes WebDetect. This product scans suspected Internet trading sites and chat rooms for your Social Security Number (if elected) and up to 10 major credit and debit card numbers you provide, alerting you if your sensitive personal information is found on suspected trading sites. Just visit Equifax.com to learn more.
**Robertson, Jordan. “Online Crooks Face ough Competition.” Washington Post. 8 April 2008.
Internet Crime Complaint Center. “2009 Internet
4. Monitor your credit
Checking your credit report can help you identify potentially fraudulent activity before it wreaks havoc on your personal finances. Make sure your report is accurate and includes only those activities you can explain.
It is also a good idea to review your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every year, as it is possible that information is reported to one but not the others.
Think about monitoring your credit like having a smoke detector in your home. It is not something you turn on once in a while; you keep it on, knowing it will alert you when there are problems. Key changes to your credit file will help you quickly identify potential problems. This is especially important given the amount of and speed at which personal information is exchanged today.
Enrolling in a credit monitoring product like Equifax Complete Advantage or Equifax Complete Premier takes the worry out of protecting your credit file, by notifying you within 24 hours of key changes that could be the early warning signs of identity theft.*
5. Be careful when giving out your personal information
Whether on the phone, by mail, or on the Internet, never give anyone your credit card number, Social Security Number, or other personal information for a purpose you do not understand. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible, and do not carry your Social Security card. Be sure to keep it in a secure place.
6. Protect your documents and mail
To stop a thief from going through your trash or recycling bin to get your personal information, shred your charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, bank statements, expired charge cards, and pre-approved credit offers. You can help reduce your risk by choosing to opt-out of pre- approved offers of credit or insurance products by calling 1-888-567-8688. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it is delivered. If you plan to be away from home, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 or go to www.usps.com and request a vacation hold on your mail delivery.
2Equifax is pleased to provide this information for your convenience, however it is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional or legal advice of any kind or description. The information contained in these materials is believed to be reliable at the time it was written but it cannot be guaranteed in so far as it is applied to any particular individual or situation.
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