Protect Your Credit
Because identity theft and credit card fraud are among the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., there are several steps you should take immediately if your credit card becomes lost or stolen, or if you find bills in your mail that you do not recognize or charges you did not authorize.
The first step you should take is to initiate a fraud alert on all your credit card accounts. There is a common misconception that doing this will prevent you from obtaining any further credit cards or financing. This is simply untrue. What a fraud alert will do is require creditors to contact you by telephone before any new accounts are opened in your name. It will also require creditors to contact you by telephone before making any requested changes to any existing accounts, such as increasing your line of credit.
To place a fraud alert on your accounts, contact any one of the three major credit bureaus:
The credit bureau you contact will then contact the remaining two bureaus and all three will send you a current copy of your credit report, free of charge. When you receive these reports, look them over carefully. Note any accounts you didn't authorize or debts you don't recognize. Also check that all your personal information, such as name, address, and Social Security number are correct. If any incorrect or fraudulant information is found, contact the credit bureau to have it removed. Then continue to check your credit report on a regular basis to insure no further fradulant activity is found.
After initiating a fraud alert, you should then immediately close any accounts you think may have been violated and submit an ID theft affidavit to the credit card companies in question. You should then file a police report with your local police department and also file a case with the Federal Trade Commission.
Identity theft is a federal offense with stiff penalties for those who dare to attempt it and are caught. Take steps to protect your credit and prevent yourself from becoming a victim of this very serious crime.
About the Author: Karyn Kudrna is owner of the websites http://www.credit-123.com and http://www.finance-123.com.