Detecting Identity Theft: The Quicker The Better
To minimize the effects of identity theft, self-detection is the best protection.
- Monitor your account balances and activity at least weekly. This will help you catch the fraud earlier. Access your account through the Internet or by telephone, rather than waiting for a paper statement.
- If you do not have access to online accounts, review mailed bank and credit card statements monthly. In most cases, you have 30 days from the date of your bank statement to report check fraud and 60 days to report credit card fraud. Generally, the most for which you will be financially liable is $50.
- Monitor your credit report at least annually. Since it is harder to detect someone using your identity to open new accounts, reviewing your credit report is crucial. You can get a free report each year from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian & TransUnion) by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting the website Annual Credit Report, (but do not use any other website you may receive). Space the three reports out over the year instead of getting all three at once.
- Consider paying bills online or through automated plans. You can safely pay bills online through secure Internet sites or use automated plans. Password-protect your computer and sensitive files; ensure your computer has a firewall to protect from Internet attacks; regularly update your anti-virus/anti-spyware software; keep your operating system security features current, and turn off your computer when not in use.
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