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Consumer Tip: ID theft victim's options

Monday, August 26, 2002

By Kathy Jo Pollack

If you know or suspect fraud, act quickly to minimize damage. Although specific action varies depending upon the circumstances, there are three basic steps.

One, contact the fraud department of each of the three credit bureaus. Equifax: 800-525-6285; Experian: 800-397-3742; Trans Union: 800-680-7289. Request a "fraud alert" and victim's statement be placed in your file, and request your free credit report. Promptly scrutinize information and follow each bureau's instructions to dispute inaccuracies.

Contact the security/fraud department of each company where you suspect fraud, and follow up in writing. Close all affected accounts and open new ones with new passwords.

File a police report (locally or where it occurred) and get a copy. This helps deal with creditors and may be required as proof.

To sum up: Be proactive, stay informed and guard your information.

Last of four parts on ID theft.

Week one: Preventing ID theft

Week two: How ID theft occurs

Week three: Minimizing ID theft risk

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 www.post-gazette.com/yourbiz.

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