Rapid response key in fighting ID theft

In the past 15 months, corporations, universities and other organizations alerted more than 85 million U.S. consumers that their personal or financial data might have been exposed through electronic breaches, disgruntled employees or just plain incompetence. While consumer data leaks don’t automatically result in financial losses or identity theft, experts say your chances of becoming a victim depend on how well you know your rights and how quickly you spring into action.

A speedy response is most important in cases when a data breach or loss involves a consumer’s Social Security number, which thieves can use to open new lines of credit in the victim’s name, said Betsy Broder, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

“Anyone whose Social Security number was lost or stolen should immediately report it to one of the three major credit bureaus and request that a 90-day fraud alert be placed on all credit files. Consumers have the right to renew this alert indefinitely, but they must contact one of the credit bureaus every three months to do so”.

Consumers who have evidence of attempts to open fraudulent accounts in their name should contact those creditors immediately, and file a report with the local police department. If possible, obtain a copy of the police report, or at least the police report number.

For many identity-theft victims, being denied a loan or line of credit or receiving a call from a debt collection agency is the first sign of trouble. By law, if you inform a collector that a debt is the result of identity theft, that collector also must inform the creditor, and creditors are prohibited from selling debt that results from identity theft or placing it for collection. You also are entitled to a copy of all information about fraudulent debt, including late notices and account statements.

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This blog is run by the authors of FindProtected. FindProtected is an effective security program that allows you to search your network for password protected files. With FindProtected, you can properly identify protected files and relocate them if necessary.

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