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"Fraud Alert Call Quickly Stops Activity on Stolen Identity or Credit Cards"

Consumers should notify SSA and credit bureaus as soon as a problem is discovered urges the ICFE

RELEASE: April 2001
CONTACT: Paul S. Richard, ICFE Executive Director

San Diego, CA. "The horror stories of fraud committed using another's name, address, Social Security number and credit card accounts are frightening. Unfortunately for people whose wallet is stolen, the thieves may order expensive monthly cell phone package, apply for additional credit cards via the Internet, or have a credit line approved to buy a computer, receive a PIN number from the department of motor vehicles in order to change driving record information on-line, and more, within days or the first week," warns Paul S. Richard, executive director of the nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education, based in San Diego.

"The most important call is to Social Security Administration (SSA) and the three national credit reporting agencies to place a "fraud alert" on your name and Social Security number. The "fraud alert" means any company checking your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit," Richard explained. Some folks unwisely wait days after the theft to contact the fraud hotlines, by then the damage has been done. An early call will usually stop thieves using your identity or credit cards in their tracks," Richard noted. 

The Social Security Administration fraud line is: 800-269-0271. 

The fraud hot line reporting numbers for the three major credit reporting agencies are:

Equifax: 800-685-1111, 
Experian: 800-397-3742 and 
Trans Union: 800-680-7289.

"To limit the financial damage, cancel credit cards and bank accounts immediately. The key is having the toll free numbers and your credit card numbers handy so you know who to call. An easy way to do this is to photocopy the contents of your wallet, your driver's license, insurance information, credit and charge cards, then add the 800 numbers for emergency cancellations and keep it where you can find them easily. Also, file a police report in the jurisdiction where your credit or identity was stolen, this will prove to credit providers you were diligent, and is a necessary first step toward a possible investigation," Richard pointed out.

For more information about fraud and or errors on your credit report, please visit our credit repair section on our web site: http://www.financial-education-icfe.org/credit_file_repair

Or please send a self-addressed, 55 cent stamped envelope to: 
ICFE, Credit File Errors
PO Box 34070 
San Diego, CA 92163-4070.

The ICFE's "Do-It-Yourself Credit File Correction Guide," now in its Twelfth Printing, is still available for $10. Included in the Y2K+ edition are step-by-step instructions, answers to the most often asked
questions, consumer credit rights, sample letters to use when communicating with the various credit reporting agencies about credit file questions and difficulties and much more. To order: send $10 (includes postage) to:

ICFE Credit Guides 
U.S. PO Box 34070, 
San Diego, CA 92163. 

Consumers may learn more on the Internet about the "Do-It-Yourself Credit File Correction Guide" here, or fill out our request form, indicating your areas of interest.

For more information contact Paul S. Richard ICFE Executive Director at 619-239-1401.

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