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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

These FTC tips could save you thousands of dollars


Identity theft complaints soared to 380,000 during 2002. Following these simple credit security tips from the Federal Trade Commission can help protect you, your identity and your money.

Cases of stolen identity accounted for 43 percent of the complaints lodged in the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database. The number of fraud complaints jumped from 220,000 in 2001 to 380,000 in 2002, and the dollar loss consumers attributed to the fraud they reported more than doubled from $160 million in 2001 to $343 million in 2002.

Don't Become a Victim of Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips on how to avoid and deal with identity theft:

  • Protect your personal information. It's a valuable commodity.

  • Only share your credit card or other personal information when you're buying from a company you know and trust.

  • Know who you're dealing with.

  • Walk away from any company that doesn't clearly state its name, physical address, and telephone number. A Web site alone or a mail box drop should raise suspicions.

  • Don't rely on oral promises. Get all promises in writing and review them carefully before you make any payments or sign any contracts.

  • Read and understand the fine print in any written agreement.

  • Don't pay "up-front" for a loan or credit. Remember that legitimate lenders never "guarantee" a loan or a credit card before you apply, especially if you have bad credit, no credit, or a bankruptcy.

    Consumers interested in identity theft should consult the FTC's publication, When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name.  Online Complaints about a particular company or organization can be filed confidentially using the FTC's Online Consumer Complaint Form.  Identity Theft Reports can be filed online using the FTC's ID Theft Complaint Form.

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