July 20th 2005
FTC is lead
The Federal Trade commission
reports that identity theft has been the number one consumer fraud
complaint for five years running, affecting 10 million people each
year. Some states require companies to notify consumers if they lose
track of their personal information.
Recently I was notified by one of
my credit card companies that my address was being changed on my Credit
Card. This was a surprise to me. The new address was located across
the country. The thieves had my social security number and date of
birth. Along with my name, they effectively had my identity.
Immediately we confirmed charges
I made and separated the charges they made. The credit card company
sent me an affidavit to fill out and I sent it back. On it I swore that
I did not make the fraudulent charges. One of the charges was made to
Wal-Mart on-line. Wal-Mart was a victim here also.
A couple days later I found out
the thieves bought a cell phone using my identification. This is
important because you need a phone to get credit. They used that same
fraudulent address. If a thief gets an address on your credit report
they can apply for credit. You may never know this is happening.
Immediately I wondered what I
should no next. The credit card company told me to call the three
credit bureaus and register a fraud alert. I did that. I called
Equifax, Experian (previously TRW) and TransUnion. This simple alert
lasts only 90 days. You can get an extensive alert that lasts 7 years
by writing the Credit Bureaus. As of now, I have not done that.
Most experts recommend contacting
your local police department and filing a report. Other experts
recommend calling the police where the fraud happened and filing a
report with that police department also. It couldn’t hurt, and may help
in future lawsuits against you.
Earlier this year my wife and I
signed up for Profile Protect, hoping we would be notified quickly if
someone tried to use our identity. They notified me, but it was a month
after I was notified by the credit card company.
Even though they are not quick,
these credit protection agencies can help. I just found out that the
fraudulent address was added to my Experian report recently. I will try
to correct this address, but once the reporting agencies get it, it is
very difficult to get it removed.
I have written letters and have
gotten some inaccurate information removed from my credit reports. It
is difficult to get everything fixed the first go around, so I recommend
you keep trying. It appears the reporting agencies love data, the more
the better even if it is inaccurate.
Here are the phone numbers to
report suspected. The alerts are free. Esperian 800-509-8495
Transunion 1-800-680-7289 and Equifax 1-800-525-6285.
If you have any stories, suggestions
or information please email me at
Best Syndication Staff Writer
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