By Andrew Lucht
Army Community Service Consumer Affairs
This is the second in a three part series on avoiding identity theft. There are the three ways to avoid identity theft; deter, detect and defend. This article will discuss ways to detect identity theft.
Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. If you are unable to take these steps while you are deployed, consider placing and “active duty alert” on your credit report.
Inspect your credit report. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history. The law requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies –Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to give you a free copy of your credit report every year if you ask for it. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, a service created by these three companies, to order your free credit reports each year. You can also write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Additionally, the ACS Financial Readiness Program Manager can provide you with one free copy of your credit report as well as your FICO Score. Please call Andrew at 678-1337 to make an appointment.
Inspect your financial statements. Review your financial accounts and read your billing statements regularly, looking for charges you didn’t make. If you review financial accounts online from a public computer, be sure to log off of financial sites before you end your session.
Be alert to signs that require immediate attention: bills that do not arrive as expected. Unexpected credit cards or account statements. Denials of credit for no apparent reason and calls or letters about purchases you did not make.
Next month’s article will discuss ways to defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect it.
For more information on identity theft visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft
For more information or assistance please contact Andrew Lucht, Accredited Financial Counselor at 678-1337.