We've heard all about identity theft in the news. It is the fastest growing crime in our nation today. It happens all the time and everyone is at risk.
But what if your identity is stolen? What would you do first? Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name. The Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of identity theft. The ITRC provides consumer and victim support as well as public education. On its web site, there are step-by-step instructions of what to do if you believe your identity has been compromised, but be prepared to spend hours just reading the instructions. Identity theft victims spend an average of 175 hours recovering from identity theft, often over a period of years, according to the ITRC.
Alumni ID Recovery is a service offered by your Alumni Association at a discounted rate for University of New Haven alumni that covers every aspect of restoring your credit and your identity. Individual and family plans are available for less than $9 a month and you'll have access to Alumni ID Recovery's experienced professionals who will process paperwork and make necessary phone calls to government agencies and credit bureaus if you become a victim of identity theft. If you purchase this product, you would call them first and they would handle the process for you, saving you valuable time. You can subscribe online at www.AlumniIDRecovery.com or call 1-800-922-1245.
To protect ourselves from this crime, we know to cross-shred our mail before tossing it in the trash or recycle bin, monitor our bank and credit card accounts and not to respond to any e-mails requesting our social security numbers. But how else can you protect yourself against identity theft and fraud? Here are a few suggestions that might be new to you.
* When writing out checks, use a gel ink pen (preferably black) so the ink will permeate
the fibers of the check to prevent check washing. Check washing is a simple, low-tech
way to alter a check you have written. It is the chemical erasing of the handwritten
parts of a check. The idea is to remove the ink while maintaining the overall appearance
of the check and its preprinted items. The concern here is that these chemicals and
solvents are readily available everywhere.
* You probably know that you should order your credit report at least once a year and that federal law gives you the right to one free credit report each year from the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you are a victim of identity theft, your credit report will contain the tell-tale signs – inquiries that were not generated by you, as well as credit accounts that you did not open. The earlier you detect fraud, the easier and quicker it will be to clean up your credit files and regain your financial health.
Consider staggering your requests and obtain one report from one bureau every four months. That way, you can monitor your credit reports on an ongoing basis. But if you are in the market for credit or are a victim of identity theft, order all three at one time. For more information on your free credit reports, visit the Federal Trade Commission web site .