IDENTITY THEFT: PROTECTING YOUR CREDIT

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1 IDENTITY THEFT: PROTECTING YOUR CREDIT Free Credit Report A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Reviewing your credit report annually can help guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new card account in your name. Then, when they don t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance or even a job. To obtain a free credit report, contact the Annual Credit Report Request Service. On the web go to or Call or Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form (attached) and mail to Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box Atlanta, GA When you order your report, you need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. To verify your identity you many need to provide some information that only you would know. For more information contact the Annual Credit Report Request Service listed above, do not contact the individual consumer credit reporting agencies directly. Identity Theft Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, date of birth, or other identifying information without authority to commit fraud. You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting companies place fraud alerts in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert and an extended alert. An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or you ve been taken in by a scam. When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.

2 An extended alert stays on your credit report for 7 years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you have been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Report (attached). When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you are entitled to two free credit reports within twelve months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. As soon as that company processes your fraud alert it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file. You will be required to provide appropriate proof of your identity: that may include your SSN, name, address and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting company. Contacts for fraud alerts at the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies are: Equifax: ; P.O. Box , Atlanta, GA Experian: EXPERIAN ( ); P.O. Box 9530, Allen, TX TransUnion: ; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA Protecting Against Identity Theft You can minimize your risk of identity theft by managing your personal information. Don t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you ve initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with. Don t carry your SSN card or number with you. Secure personal information in your home. Guard your mail and trash from theft. Don t carry credit cards and identification that you don t need. Place passwords on your credit cards, bank and phone accounts. These are only a few suggestions to protect your identity. To receive additional information and guidance regarding identity theft or to report identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission. This agency provides assistance, information, preventative advice and more for all identity theft issues FTC-HELP ( )

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