Avoiding identity theft doesn’t always mean buying expensive identity protection services. While many people purchase these and find them very beneficial, other people prefer to do things on their own. Some people also just don’t have the money to spend-but they still want to protect their good name and their credit rating.
A poor credit rating can cause a lot of difficulties, so avoiding credit problems is important. Once a person becomes a victim of identity fraud, it can take months or years to correct it, and it can also cost thousands of dollars. Stopping it before it gets started is a much better choice than trying to correct it later.
Simple Consumer Protection Tips
Whether a consumer belongs to an identity protection service, uses software to help protect his identity, or chooses to have identity theft lawyers on retainer, there are still steps he can take all on his own in order to protect himself more fully. These include the following:
- Don’t give out a social security number unless it’s absolutely necessary (employment, tax returns, etc).
- Don’t carry a social security card around. Leave it in a secure place at home.
- Add fraud alerts to credit reports at all three bureaus.
- Check credit reports from all three credit bureaus at least once a year and dispute any items that are fraudulent or incorrect.
- Pay attention to the privacy and security measures in place on Websites when buying online.
Just by taking simple measures, a consumer can help to avoid identity theft. These measures don’t guarantee safety, but they do help reduce the number of people who need identity theft lawyers or who see their credit rating come back too low to be approved for a loan, simply because someone has done damage to their credit that they weren’t aware of.
Identity Theft Victims Have Rights
People who have been victims of identity theft often find that identity theft lawyers are necessary to straighten things out. This can cost a lot of money and take a long time. Other people choose to tackle the theft problem themselves, and they don’t always know who to contact or where to turn.
Overall, there are two places that identity fraud victims should contact first: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the local police or sheriffs department. Contacting both of these organizations will ensure that all of the proper authorities are notified and have access to the information, which can help stop identity thieves across state lines.
Once the authorities have been notified, an identity theft victim should contact the credit bureaus and request copies of his credit report. He should also request a fraud alert to be placed on his credit reports, which will stop more credit from being opened in his name. At that point, and with the information from the authorities, disputes and a clean up of the credit reports can begin.