As I have said in previous posts, I am a victim of ID Theft. This reality is a hard one to accept and in order to deal with it you need a little persistence and you have to be very aware of all of your accounts.

If you know that your identity has been stolen there are some steps you must take to prevent any losses. At the end of the day, it does not matter what information the criminals have, as long as you are prepared, they cannot get one dollar from you and you wont be responsible to pay for anything they steal.

- Place a fraud alert on your credit report:
Contact one of the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) and set up a fraud alert. You only have to do this once since the other two agencies will be notified of your alert. Basically, this notifies anyone that is looking at your credit, that you are a potential victim of ID Theft. This will induce a phone call or some further investigation before any credit is issued in your name.

- Review your credit report:
Once you place a fraud alert on your credit report, you will receive a free credit report. Review this report very carefully and make sure all the information is accurate and up to date. This is the easiest way to see if your identity is being used fraudulently. If there are any accounts there that you did not open - contact the creditor and close the account.

- Close accounts that have been or that you believe were compromised.
If you have any reason to believe that an account has been compromised in any way by a criminal, close the account or change the account number. Then you should file an ID Theft Affidavit. This is a simple form that you should complete and submit as soon as possible. This form puts you on file with the FTC and can help you in any dispute you have with the account in question.

- File a Police Report
This seems like a useless thing to do but this is your best defense if you are ever sued for money by an account that was closed due to criminal activity. Your report can be used as testimony that you had informed the account that there was fraudulent activity and can be your only defense and release from liability.

Identity Theft is a very scary thing to deal with. There were times where I felt helpless and simply wanted to give up. You must remain vigilant and aware at all times.

For more complete information visit The FTC and the sites listed below:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

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