Preventing Identity Theft
By Phil Pesano
Jaydien Network Solutions
Ever get a message similar to one of the following when checking your email or visiting a website? “We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account has not been compromised, please click here to authenticate your personal profile.” Or,
“During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn’t verify your information. Please click here to update and verify our records.”
Never respond to any such request or solicitation. No legitimate agencies, credit card companies, financial institutions or retailers ever request personal or financial information via email or through a website.
On the non-internet side of life:
- Shred all copies of bills, monthly statements, credit card offers, convenience checks, receipts, etc. before putting them in the trash or recycling them.
- Opt-out of pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT.
- Periodically review your credit report. New Jersey residents are entitled to one free report per year from each of the major credit bureaus. You can get your free reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- And consider the NJ security freeze which enables NJ residents to prevent anyone from looking at their credit files for the purpose of granting credit, unless the resident specifically chooses to allow access. Thieves cannot gain access to your credit report without knowing your PIN and potential creditors won’t extend credit without reviewing it. Under this law, all consumers can place a security freeze on their credit files for free and lift it temporarily for $5 when applying for credit.
If you suspect you already have a problem:
There are several agencies you will need to contact to begin restoring your identity, your credit and help bring the thieves to justice. Contacting the following is a good start:
- Your local police to file a fraud report.
- The Social Security Administration @ 800 269-0271, if you think your SSN is being fraudulently used, as well as the Internal Revenue Service @ 800 829-0433.
- The three major credit reporting companies:
- Equifax 800 525-6285
- Experian (formerly TRW) 888 397-3742
- Trans Union 800 680-7289
- Banks, Cable TV, Credit Card, Internet Access, Financial Institutions, Telephone, Utility and other companies where you have established credit to either freeze accounts and or request a change of account numbers, passwords, user IDs, PINs, etc
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