How Do I Protect Myself From Fraud and Identity Theft?
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What Do The Credit Reporting Agencies Do To Protect My Identity?

Knowing that our personal information is being transmitted monthly by our creditors to the credit bureaus can be cause for some anxiety about our safety.  So it is prudent to ask what they do to help keep our information safe…especially when their main business is selling our data!!  So here are a few things that they say they do:

1)  dropping several digits from each of your credit account numbers and your social security number on your credit report.  In this way, nobody can see the full information unless YOU give it to them.  An especially important point for you to remember…even though you may have accounts that have been closed or are not being used, it is important to keep the full account number somewhere in your data files where it can be retrieved…for this reason.

2) offering fraud prevention products to ensure the integrity of the credit database and to protect consumers and creditors.  They don’t work unless we take advantage of them, and there is a cost to doing that.  But consider this…is the annual cost of purchasing the service cheaper than the cost of theft?

3)  continually monitoring access to databases with software that detects unusual activity for immediate investigation.  You know you have been contacted in the past by your creditors when something alerts them to suspicious activity on your account.  This is the same principle.

4)  working with law enforcement to catch fraud perpetrators.

5)  requiring a business to designate a permissible purpose[1] under federal law before it can access consumer credit information.

6)  following procedures so that only reputable businesses are accepted as clients.

7)  building barriers to prevent computer hackers from accessing consumer credit data.  You can bet they are good at this, as their primary business is selling your data.  If a hacker obtains the list, then their information is not as valuable.

So let’s say we suspect that something is going on with our credit, and we want to alert somebody.  What are the procedures for obtaining assistance, and stopping the theft before it does much damage?

Experian 1-888-397-3742 is the current number for reporting fraud to the National Consumer Assistance Center.  They have a four point program to help with their particular reporting data.

Equifax has an online form that can automatically place a security alert or freeze on your account.  You can obtain their help by going to

TransUnion offers an online fraud alert system, and can be accessed by going to

In addition, it is imperative that you notify the local authorities, your banking relationships, and all creditors of your circumstances.  They all have programs to help.


[1] Permissible purpose:  There are legally defined permissible purposes for a credit report to be issued to a third party.  Permissible purposes include credit transactions, employment purposes, insurance underwriting, government financial responsibility laws, court orders, subpoenas, written instructions of the consumer, and legitimate business needs.

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