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Protect your identity

Protect your identity

Identity theft is a prevalent and severe risk of information use. You have to provide some of your information to many businesses or groups, including tax agencies, the University, online stores, and social networking sites. But the more you use your data, the greater the risk of its exposure. Although most people forunately don't have to deal with identity theft, it's a growing problem and there are resources available to help you if you become a victim.

General guidelines

Monitor your credit reports for signs of fraud or suspicious activity. The more often you monitor your credit reports, the sooner you can catch instances of identity theft or credit fraud.

Steps to take if you are affected by identity theft:

The credit agencies and the federal government will be able to help you if you have been affected by identity theft. Follow the steps below, and the recommendations of the Federal Trade Commission, to investigate, remediate, and guard against fraud.

  1. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus and request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit files. The bureau you contact is required to notify the other two about the alert.
    • Experian
      1-888-397-3742 or online
      P.O. Box 9701
      Allen TX 75013-9701
    • Equifax
      1-888-766-0008 or online
      P.O. Box 740241
      Atlanta GA 30374-0241
    • TransUnion
      1-800-680-7289 or online
      Fraud Assistance Division
      P.O. Box 6790
      Fullerton CA 92834-6790
  2. Request a free credit report from one or more of the three major credit bureaus using the contact information in step #1 or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com (the FTC-authorized source for free credit reports).
  3. Create an identity theft affidavit by visiting https://www.identitytheft.gov/. Be sure to provide details to assist in the remediation process.
  4. File a police report with your local police department. Bring the identity theft affidavit you created in step #3 and have it attached to the police report to create an identity theft report. Request a copy of the report or get the police report number. You can use your identity theft report to provide information to organizations assisting you in investigating and remediating fraud.
  5. Contact your creditors to freeze fraudulent activities and collections on your accounts. Provide the identity theft report or police report number you obtained in step #4 to demonstrate that the fraud is being investigated. Inspect your credit reports carefully. If you notice any discrepancies, contact the issuing credit bureau and request a correction. Review your financial and commercial account activity and report any suspicious activity to the business with whom you hold the account.

For additional protection, you may also contact a credit monitoring agency to request credit monitoring and restoration services.

External references