Avoiding Identity Theft

The following Web site can be used to request a free credit report to help determine if there has been any suspicious activity with any of your financial accounts:

As a precautionary measure, consider placing a fraud alert, at no charge to you, on your credit report. A fraud alert simply tells creditors to contact you before they open new accounts or change your existing accounts. You can contact any one of the three major credit bureaus:

As soon as one credit bureau confirms your alert, the others are notified. All three credit reports will be sent to you, free of charge, for your review.

Even if you do not find any suspicious activity on your initial credit reports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you check your credit reports periodically. Personal information is sometimes held for later use, or shared among identity thieves at different times. Checking your credit reports on a regular basis can help you spot problems and address them quickly.

If you find suspicious activity on your credit reports or have reason to believe your information is being misused, file a police report. Get a copy of the report; many creditors want the information it contains to absolve you of the fraudulent debts. You also should file a complaint with the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or at 1-877-438-4338. Your complaint will be added to the FTC's Identity Theft Data Clearing house, where it will be accessible to law enforcers for their investigations.

The following link offers additional resources and can answer many of the questions you might have:

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