Tis the season for identity theft! While you are shopping during this holiday season for friends and loved ones, identity thieves are looking for the opportunity to steal your personal information.  Here are some great tips on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft.

Keep documents secure in your home.

Holiday parties are often celebrated in homes.  If you are the host, make sure your personal information is secure.  Workers or even rogue family members may be tempted by the easy taking.  Friendly fraud is far too common.  Credit card and bank statements shouldn’t be left in the open.  Either shred the documents or place them in a safe place under lock and key.

Don’t apply for in-store credit offers.

Credit offers can be tempting, but don’t take the bait.  Point of sale credit applications are far from secure.  Retail sales persons are not the only people who have access to your credit application.  Where does your application go after you hand it over to the clerk?   Crowded stores may distract you from an unlikely, but real threat from fellow shoppers looking for the opportunity to steal your personal information.

Clean out your wallet or purse.

On average, most consumers have 4 credit cards.  Add a debit card to that, and you risk losing 5 cards if your wallet or purse is stolen.  What about your check book and Social Security card, too?  Shed that extra weight and leave them at home.  If you have a debit card, then there is no need to carry around a checkbook.  Likewise, there is no reason to keep your social Security card on you!  Keep your card at home in a safe place.

Keep a close watch on your statements.

Keep a close watch on your financial statements, including mail and online statements.  Missing statements at the mailbox could tip you off that someone has tried to steal your identity.  Mailboxes are easy targets, especially if they are unlocked and on the street.  View your online statements regularly.  You don’t have to wait once a month to view your account statements online.  Make sure ALL of the transactions were authorized by you – if not dispute immediately, in writing, with your creditor or bank.

Request your free credit report.

You have the right to one free credit report from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union once every 12 months.  Some states offer consumers additional rights to free credit reports.  Order your free credit report and make sure that everything is correct on your credit report.  This includes personal information, public records, accounts and inquiries.  Click HERE to download the free credit report request form for Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

Contact a FCRA lawyer. 

If you discover errors on your credit report, don’t go at it alone or pay a credit repair company.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers have the right to dispute credit report errors with Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.  Federal law provides for attorneys’ fees if you are successful, so most FCRA lawyers will take your case on a contingency basis.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers have the right to request free credit reports and dispute credit report errors.  Consumers also have the right to sue creditors and creditor reporting agencies for failing to perform a reasonable investigation under the FCRA. Credit reporting agencies must block information in your credit report that is the result of identity theft. The credit bureaus must block the fraudulent information within 4 business days of receipt of an identity theft report.

For more information about consumer rights, contact attorney Micah Adkins 24/7 at 1-800-263-9091 for a free case review.

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