Learn the signs and stop ID theft before it gets really painful
California (OPENPRESS) December 29, 2011 - Anyone is fair game when it comes to identity theft, but it seems that members of the military are at an increased risk because their personal information is disbursed far more often than civilians.
But the threat is very real for civilians as well. Most doctors, dentists, hospitals, labs, radiology centers and therapists require new patients to provide their Social Security numbers, driver's license information, birth date and contact information on registration forms. This means that no matter who you are, military or not, you leave behind a trail of personal information. If you are active military, this trail likely goes around the world.
How do you know if you have become a victim of identity theft? There are warning signs. The most obvious signs are when you receive a bill for an account you never opened, or when you discover charges on your credit card statement that you didn't make. But there are less subtle signs as well.
To make sure you're safe, be on the lookout for credit denial letters from companies you have never applied for credit from before, bank statements or bills not arriving in the mail, phone calls or letters from collection agencies, and denied authorizations when you use your credit card that is in good standing.
It's also a good idea to review your credit report annually. By law, the credit reporting bureaus are required to provide you with one free copy of your report each year. But you won't get the reports automatically - you have to request them.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have teamed up and created an official centralized service where you can get your free credit report. Just go online at www.annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228. You can also write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
If you need to monitor your credit beyond that, how do you go about doing so? The answer is simple: credit monitoring.
There are a multitude of credit monitoring services available, and they range in price and in the services they provide. But they all offer monitoring of your credit report for any unauthorized activity, and you'll be notified almost immediately, so you can take action to squelch the attempted theft.
What credit monitoring services can't do is prevent identity theft. In fact, no company or service can. But finding out about an attempted theft quickly can make all the difference in the world.