A few months ago, I received a bill on a credit card that I had not used in months. Someone had used it to order $129 in pay-per-view services. I had become a victim of identity theft, one of the fastest growing consumer crimes.
I was lucky in that I knew how to respond. I phoned the credit card company immediately. In addition, the theft had been limited to one credit card. Thieves can just as easily steal multiple credit accounts and then open new accounts in the victim’s name.
Identity theft has become so ubiquitous that it is critical for all of us to know how to protect against it and how to respond when it happens. To help consumers, the Federal Trade Commission has posted several new resources on how to spot identity theft and what victims should do.
Taking Charge: What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen is a handbook with tips about protecting your information. It includes instructions, sample forms, and letters to help recover from theft.
Safeguarding Your Child’s Future is a guide to help parents and guardians protect a child’s information and repair damage caused by theft.
Identity Theft: What To Know, What To Do is a brochure covering the basics: how to avoid and respond to identity theft.
All of these resources are available in English and Spanish. They are free and available online.
You may also order print copies, free of charge, from the Web site. These are good resources for outreach organizations and to have on offer in your client waiting areas.