Saturday, July 16, 2005

Public Service Announcement Of The Month

Luckily I haven't yet been the victim of identity theft, but I've been researching it quite a bit lately. The best site I've found on the subject is Vicims Assitance Of America. They provide a free service to anyone who's been a victim of identity theft, and they are aggressively fighting to reduce the incidence of the crime.

They also provide a long (i.e. exhausting) list of ways you can reduce the risk of identity theft happens to you. It's worth reading the whole list, but it seems these are the two most effective steps a person can take:

#3. Opt out of pre-approved credit and insurance offers as allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. section 1681b (e). By calling 1-888-5OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) consumers can prevent the 4 national bureaus from releasing their name on the prescreened lists used to create pre-approved offers. The consumer has the option to opt out for 2 years or for life. We at VAA recommend for life and being done with it. This information is included in the ID THEFT LINKS section of the website also.

#22. Pull credit reports for the entire family at least once a year and be sure they are still clean of any tampering and accurate. At the VAA website click on the CREDIT REPORTS button in the left hand row of buttons and order your first ones now. Have all three credit reporting agencies put a permanent fraud alert on every family member’s credit report: and also a PIN or password if you haven’t done so yet. A fraud alert will make it where you can’t walk into a retail establishment any longer and get “instant credit” in your name –but neither can anyone else.

With a fraud alert on your credit reports at just three agencies, if anyone tries to use your name to establish credit the company extending credit in your name must call you first and get your OK. The fraud alert however is not fail-safe. We now recommend that you also ask for a PIN or password to be added to all three agencies report. This also makes it where no one can get instant credit. It totally locks down your credit report from anyone accessing it except you.

If you need to get a home loan or the like – you will have to offer to get the credit reports for the company (do not give them your password info). This step will stop pre-approved credit offers because those companies will not be able to access your account to see if you qualify. This one step alone would take a huge bite out of identity theft if everyone would just do it. How far can a perpetrator get if your permission has to be gotten in advance and no one can access your credit reports to authorize opening new accounts in your name? Do it Now! An Identity Thefter (when in access to your info) knows that he must act immediately to run up bills and move on. If your fraud alert and PIN/password is already in place, hopefully He’ll move on to his next victim the first time he’s turned down for credit in you name. If you find anything that you’d like to question or notice any problem when you receive your credit reports – feel free to CONTACT VAA by phone or e-mail so that a VAA Advocate can assist you with it.

Read the entire list at:

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