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Identity Theft Protection Plan

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What is Identity Theft?

An identity thief obtains some small piece of your sensitive personal information and uses it without your knowledge to commit fraud or identity theft against your person or business. Your everyday transactions, which usually reveal bits of your confidential personal information, your bank and credit card account numbers; your income; your Social Security number; or your name, address, and phone numbers.
Identity theft and fraud are serious crimes. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years and thousands of their hard-earned dollars cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of you’re their good name and credit record. Some victims have lost employment opportunities, been refused loans for education, housing or automobiles. Some have even been arrested for fraudulent crimes they didn’t commit.

How Can They Steal My Identity?

Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to gain access to your confidential personal information. They get information from businesses or other institutions by stealing records from their employer, bribing an employee who has access to these personnel records, or hacking into the organization’s computers. Identity thieves may rummage through your trash, or the trash of businesses or dumps in a practice known as “dumpster diving.” By abusing their employer’s authorized access or by posing as a tenants landlord or employer who may have a legal right to the information, they secretly obtain your confidential credit reports and information.
They steal credit and debit card numbers by using a special information storage device in a practice known as “skimming” your card. You might receive a bogus e-mail claiming to be from a prominent reputable Bank or Brokerage House. It looks authentic, but is really a trap to get your personal or business banking information. This type of activity to get your account information is called " phishing". These scam messages along with the accompanying email should be forwarded to the actual bank or financial institution for action.
Stolen wallets and purses containing personal identification, credit and bankcards are especially useful to identity thieves. They steal mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, and even tax information. It’s reported that some of the most skilled identity thieves will even complete a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location under their control. Sometimes they steal personal information from your home while in the commission of a burglary. They will even scam information from you by posing as a legitimate businessperson or government official, then commit identity theft and fraud.
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What Can They Do With My Identity?

Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may, go on spending sprees using your credit and debit card account numbers to buy “big-ticket” items like computers and stereo equipment that they can sell easily. They might open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. When the bills go unpaid, the delinquent account is reported to your credit-reporting agency. Next they change the mailing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up multiple charges on your account. Because the bills are being sent to the new address, it may take weeks or months before you realize there’s a problem. Identity thieves might take out auto loans in your name. Establish phone or wireless service in your name. Counterfeit checks or debit cards can be fraudulently issued, then drain your bank accounts. Identity thieves might open a bank account in your name and write bad checks or secure a loan. File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred, or to avoid eviction from their residence. They might even give your name to the police during an arrest. If the identity thieves are released and don’t show up for their court date, an arrest warrant could be issued in your name.

How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?

Can you prevent identity theft from occurring, hardly? As with any crime, you cannot completely control whether or not you’ll become a victim. But, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information cautiously and with heightened sensitivity.
For added security, place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your (SSN) Social Security Number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Ask if you can use a password instead.

   • Secure personal information in your home. Especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.

   • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect your personally identifying information. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask how your information can be kept confidential.

I’m Concerned, I Need Identity Theft Protection.

Monitoring all my accounts, looking for unexplained changes or activity? Searching for credit card accounts or loans in my name, but not authorized or initiated by myself? Studying identity theft law, locating the right identity theft protection? Sounds very difficult and time consuming.

Not at all! Applying for Equifax’s Credit Watch Gold 3 in 1 Plan Is Easy and Secure. Enroll online today.

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Important Identity Theft Resolution Contacts

Identity Theft UK Assistance

Identity Theft USA Assistance

Important Identity Theft Resource Links

US Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
United States Secret Service: http://www.secretservice.gov/financial_crimes.shtml
Identity Theft Resource Center: http://www.idtheftcenter.org

 
   

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