Sunday, June 26, 2005

Circles, Go Around Babe – ID Theft and Assistance

The theme for this issue is crime. It was inspired by a letter from my credit union informing me that a break-in had occurred. The thieves stole the computers. Not the money. Not the lock boxes. The computers. Said computers contained identifying information such as name, SSN, birth date, and other items to start a new identity for someone that has trashed their own.

I have been assured in the letter that the info was protected so that it can't be accessed. I take no comfort in this when I know that major banks and financial firms care losing customer information like water through as sieve.

But as I did in the first issue of Stoop, I do want to pass on the initial steps on what to do if this happens to you:

Visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site on Identity Theft you can download or print information on how to fight back the tide.

Be sure to download the "Chart of Action"
You are going to constantly have to prove that you are who you say you are. You will have to document the efforts you are making to recover your identity. It isn't fair but you have to do it.

Place a fraud alert on your credit report. A temporary one is 90 days and a long term one is seven years. If anyone tries to make a purchase with your credit info they have to (or are supposed to) be asked questions and verify identity. This means you too. It will be a pain but better this than somebody racking up thousands of dollars in purchases in your name.

Equifax – 1-800-525-6285 or
Transunion – 1-800-680-7289 or
Experian – 1-888-397-3742 or

Get a free copy of your credit report. You are entitled to request an annual copy of your report. All three credit-reporting agencies can be accessed by going to

Even if you never make a purchase with a credit card, you might want to get that free report. A co-worker of mine recently went to the DMV to get a driving permit.

She was handed a license of a blond, green-eyed woman. "Jane" has long braids, brown eyes and is African-American. She was also surrounded by law enforcement and spent two hours verifying her identity.

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