In an effort to alert the public on the crime of identity theft, the Zachary Police Department and Zachary Police Chief David McDavid share in the third and final article on identity theft and advise on how to protect yourself if or when the crime occurs.
STEP 1: Deter identity theft from happening.
STEP 2: Detect identity theft by reviewing all financial documents.
STEP 3: Defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect it.
McDavid said placing a "fraud alert" on your credit reports and reviewing the reports carefully tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts.
The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert. "A call to one company is sufficient," McDavid said.
The companies are: TransUnion, 1-800-680-7289; Equifax, 1-800-525-6285; and Experian, 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742).
"Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports," said McDavid. "Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open and debts on your accounts that you can't explain."
McDavid also advised closing accounts that have been tampered with is another way to defend yourself. Options include calling companies where accounts have been opened without your consent; use ID theft affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement; ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and fraudulent debts discharged; and keep copies of documents/records of your conversations about theft.
Filing a police report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime is yet another way to defend yourself.
Finally, report theft to the Federal Trade Commission. "Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country with their investigations," McDavid said.
• Online: ftc.gov/idtheft
• By phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261.
• By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580