Friday, June 29, 2012

Identity Thieves Opening New Accounts - How To Prevent This Crime

A few weeks ago I got a call that someone had attempted to purchase a few hundred dollars of merchandise from a Chicos in Florida using my debit card number.  I've since been talking with a few people who say the same thing's happened to them recently.  Banks are able to catch these kind of charges without harm by reversing or denying charges but when criminals open new accounts without your knowledge using a different address it's far more threatening.

He said the main goal of the report is to educate people about preventing identity theft in the online world. "Like, for example, paying a bill online on free Wi-Fi at the airport just isn't a good idea," he said.
Stephens said the best way to protect against new account fraud is setting up credit report freezes. That means that you can't receive any new credit cards, loans, mortgages or other credit-based accounts unless you unfreeze the credit. It can be a pain, Stephens said, but it's the only secure way to prevent identity theft.
“It’s a huge, huge problem,” Stephens said. “Unlike existing account fraud, it can take the victim literally hundreds of hours to remedy.”
The way I protect myself from potential ID theft crimes is by having a free 90 day credit alert put on my account with Equifax.  I can renew the alert every 90 days and Equifax has a quick automated phone system.   When someone attempts to open an account in my name, the bank will be required to contact me by phone first prior to opening any new accounts.

A new study on ID theft was released that can help as stated in this article, Financial Loss From Identity Theft Increasing - The Bay Citizen,  that can help people understand how not to make mistakes such as exposing their information through WiFi at airports, or giving away a debit card password at compromised ATM machines equipped with hidden cameras.
He said the main goal of the report is to educate people about preventing identity theft in the online world. "Like, for example, paying a bill online on free Wi-Fi at the airport just isn't a good idea," he said.
Stephens said the best way to protect against new account fraud is setting up credit report freezes. That means that you can't receive any new credit cards, loans, mortgages or other credit-based accounts unless you unfreeze the credit. It can be a pain, Stephens said, but it's the only secure way to prevent identity theft.

The beauty of the Equifax system is it's absolutely free with a confirmation by mail.


How it works:

Equifax works with the other two nationwide credit reporting agencies, Experian and TransUnion, so that when you request an alert through Equifax, your request is automatically sent to the other two agencies. Generally, the alert will be placed on your credit file with all three agencies within 48 hours.

Next steps:

To place a Fraud Alert on your Equifax credit file:
  • Online: Place an Initial 90 Day Fraud Alert or Active Duty Alert
  • Call: 1-800-525-6285 OR
  • Write to:
    Equifax Information Services LLC
    P.O. Box 105069
    Atlanta, GA 30348-5069