I have yet another comment on resources available for identity theft victims. As I have previously written, unfortunately Arizona is number one! I say unfortunately because this statistic concerns the number of identity theft victims in our state compared to the rest of the nation. Because these statistics are staggering, I will continue to provide information and resources to assist identity theft victims.
For those who become victimized by identity theft, first and foremost, file a police report!! Credit card, banking and checking companies will have a hard time helping you without receiving information from a police report. In fact according to a web resource available for crime victims administered by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, you should take the following steps if you become an identity theft victim:
Contact the police immediately and file a report
Notify the Postal Inspector if you suspect mail theft.
Immediately notify all issuers of credit cards, checking and savings accounts, ATM cards, telephone calling cards, video rental cards, library cards, driver’s license, Social Security card, etc
Document all contacts, names of people you spoke with, telephone numbers, dates, times, and a summary of the discussion.
Contact the fraud department of each of the three credit reporting agencies to place a temporary 90 day fraud alert on your credit file. As a victim of a fraud, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit file from each of the three credit report agencies. The telephone numbers are:
Trans Union 800-888-4213
File a complaint online at: www.consumer.gov/idtheft
Following these steps will make things more efficient but the best form of protection requires vigilence and prevention from identity theft in the first place. This requires a cooperative effort with everyone who comes into possession of or uses your personal and confidential information. If your doctor’s office uses a social security number, make sure that he or she stores it securely. If your bank does not have procedures to ensure the adequate protection of confidential information on line or in person, bank elsewhere! Likewise, you should take steps to make identity theft difficult. Make sure your mailbox is secured so that mail cannot be stolen without significant effort. If you access the internet through a telephone or broadband connection, use a secure firewall. Taking some of these steps will not eliminate risks entirely but they will make you a less alluring target!