(WJBK) - by Michael Jaafar WEB: www.jaafarandmahdi.com
Estimates say that well over 10 million Americans have their identities stolen every year. But there is a guaranteed way to clean up all of the harm done to you by an identity thief without spending any money, if you act quickly and take the proper steps.
1. The FBI says that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in our country.
2. What makes Identity theft particularly troubling in my book is the fact that it is the only crime that you can be victimized by from afar. Foreigners living outside of our country can hack into your accounts and steal your money, and use your credit. Staying home and locking your doors doesn't keep you safe.
The most powerful things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, or to remedy the harm done to you by identity theft, are free. They don't cost you a dime. Everything else is a waste of money and could actually hurt you and make you too lax.
One of the worst ways to protect yourself is to sign up with an "identity theft protection program." Here is why the identity theft protection services are a complete waste of money:
1. What you have to remember is that an identity thief is not going to do what these companies expect them to do. He is not going to use your full Social Security number, home address, date of birth, and answer identifying information questions. He is going to steal your identity by using scant information about you, like the last 4 digits of your Social Security number and your name, or your date of birth and your last four of your Social Security number. And sometimes, he may not even use your full name.
Two sides of this issue that all Americans need to be aware of are:
1. what to do to prevent an identity thief from stealing their identity, and
2. What to do to clean up the mess once they've been victimized.
To prevent yourself from being a victim of identity theft, everyone should get in the habit of pulling one of the reports for free every four months. By law, all of the major credit bureaus are required to give you one free report per year is no patch. Since there are three bureaus, it only pull one of those three reports every four months so you can be constantly checking it for free.
Then, if you see any inquiries on your report that you did not make, you are immediately alerted to the fact that someone is trying to steal your identity. At that point, you are a victim and you need to do the following:
1. Step #1: Place an initial fraud alert by calling anyone of the three bureaus and telling them to put it on there. They are required by law to communicate with the other two bureaus on your behalf. This lasts for 90 days and you can renew it.
2. Step #2: Order your credit reports online. You get them for free in addition to the other free reports once you are a victim of identity theft.
3. Step #3: the most crucial step. Create an identity theft report. By creating an identity theft report, you can use that to place an extended fraud alert on your profile, and to remove all negative information from the theft from your report, have to stop all that collectors from contacting you or soon you are pursuing you for these debts. Here is how and why you do it:
-- Submit a complaint to the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov <http://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov>. print this report. This will be your "identity theft affidavit." Take this identity theft affidavit to your local police station, and insist on filing a report. Most officers will tell you don't need to do that, but that is false and incorrect. You must do this. Once you have done the police report, that along with your affidavit will form an "identity theft report." And this is the powerful tool that you will need and that will be essential in your quest to clear your name and remove all negative consequences on the identity theft.
-- After you have the "identity theft report," you can also place an "extended fraud alert" for 7 years. And this is the ultimate protection for a victim of identity theft.
4. Contact an attorney after you have done all of this and are getting any resistance from any credit reporting agency or creditor. The American legal system gives you a guarantee that you will not have to live with the damages of identity theft. And these are the steps that everyone needs to take in order to prevent identity theft, and more importantly, to rectify the damages after you have already become a victim.