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How You Can Stop Identity Theft

The FTC recently released a list of top consumer fraud complaints received in 2007 and not surprisingly, identity theft topped the list for the eighth year in a row at 32% of the overall complaints. Consumers reported over $1.2 billion in losses last year, even though there are many ways to fight identity theft. While we can’t be expected to live an exceedingly paranoid existence, we can be smart by monitoring our free Experian credit report.

The first step to fight identity theft is to obtain a online credit report report from Equifax Inc Experian or TransUnion, which are the three major credit bureaus. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.

fight identity theft
On your credit report, you will see who has tried to access your report information. You will also see all new accounts, credit cards, loans and mortgages listed. If something looks suspicious, then don’t hesitate to report identity theft immediately. To get the most accurate report, you should check all three reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Some people get their free credit report from Experian, wait four months and get another free report from Equifax, then wait four more months and get their free report from TransUnion. Otherwise, you may have to pay a small fee to access your information later in the year.

If you notice something amiss, then you can get equifax information from your credit bureaus and place a “fraud alert” on your account to report identity theft . With a fraud alert, the credit bureaus will need to contact you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.

online credit report
Experian Inc also offers a “CreditCheck” program, which alerts you whenever a change takes place on your credit report. Never carry your social security card with you, as that is a gold mine of data for thieves.

To fight identity theft, keep tabs on your FICO score for $9.95/month at www equifax com with their “score watch” program, which will allow you immediate online access to your credit file, as well as alert you to any new requests for information or lines of credit. Additionally, McAfee Internet Security Suite will protect your computer from hackers, so you can shop, bank and email safely.

equifax information
The credit bureaus can put a free 90-day fraud alert on your account if you find suspicious activity. The bureau you report to initially is required by law to notify the other two. Opt out of credit card offers at 1-888-5OPTOUT to prevent theft. Shred all your documents and stay free from identity theft!

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