While the FTC has the Identity Theft Forms Online, they do not offer any assistance in clearing up your information. You will need to get your credit cleared yourself (or with the help of an attorney). Here are some tips:
Protect yourself by doing the following:
- Do not carry your social security card around with you
- If you are on a wireless server, make sure you are on a secured network with the proper firewalls
- Make sure that when you are dealing with money online, that the web address shows the HTTPS encryption
- Check your bank accounts every month as well as your bank statements
- Check your credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. It is free, you just don’t get a FICO score. You can check your credit on a daily basis without it counting as an inquiry.
- Shred all documents
- If you have a credit card with a chip (allowing you to swipe the card over readers), beware that scammers can snag that information wirelessly if they are within 3 feet of you. Get a special metal wallet for these types of cards or simply request a card without the chip.
- Get a lock on your mailbox
If you are a victim:
- Fill out the FTC Identity Theft Form and have the Affidavit notarized
- Have the police fill out a police report. Do not settle for them stating that one will not be provided! Go down to the station if need be.
- Send in the FTC form and police report information to the 3 Credit Bureaus and ask the Bureaus put a “Freeze” on opening any new accounts
By law, the credit accounts and any collections that were a result of Identity Theft must be removed from your credit report within 14 days, however many companies fail to abide by the law. If any creditors fail to remove your Identity Theft, I would strongly suggest that you get legal advice, as you may recover the fees you needed to hire an attorney in the first place.
Special thanks to Julie Macchi for sharing this information at the Evergreen Valley Marketing Meeting held at Mega Bytes Pizza today. For those of you who have more credit related questions, feel free to contact her directly at 650-867-5936.