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Consumer Tip: Preventing ID theft

Monday, August 05, 2002

By Kathy Jo Pollack

Identity theft can be devastating. While not entirely preventable, steps can be taken to minimize risk and limit damage.

Begin by limiting access to your personal information. Carry only absolute necessities in your wallet. Exercise your right to "opt out" from having your information shared. Promptly store or destroy receipts/ statements. Check your credit reports at least once per year.

If you have been victimized, immediately close the affected account(s), contact all three credit reporting agencies and request fraud alerts be placed in your file, as well as request your free credit report and file a police report. In addition, file a complaint with the FTC.

This is the first in four installments on ID theft. Next week: How ID theft occurs.

Kathy Jo Pollack is the education training specialist for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western Pennsylvania. For more on ID theft, attend a free seminar at CCCS on Sept. 10, 1-888-511-2227, Ext. 145, or track the ID theft tips by searching for Consumer Tip at post-gazette.com's search page.

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