Tips to avoiding identity theft
In 2013, more than 80 million Americans were victims of identity theft. Some law enforcement authorities call identity theft "the fastest growing crime across the country right now." According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, most victims don't know how the perpetrators got their identity information.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft:
Order your credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies at least two times per year and immediately correct any mistakes in writing. All Virginia and Washington, D.C., residents can receive a free credit report every 12 months (under state law, consumers in Maryland already have free access to their credit reports).
To order, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
If you see addresses where you have never lived and alias names that you do not recognize, immediately put a fraud alert on your accounts and credit report.
Opt out of unsolicited credit and insurance offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT or go to www.optoutprescreen.com. This will significantly cut down on the number of pre-approved credit card offers you receive.
Many banks, credit reporting agencies, and credit card companies are now assisting with identity theft protection by monitoring accounts for unusual activity for free or a small fee. Check with your institution for information on how they protect you against identity theft.
Review these available resources:
For more information visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0015-identity-theft-resources.