As of November 1st, 2007, you can now "Freeze Your Consumer Credit Bureau Files" in all fifty states. However, all state laws are not treated equally. To learn what your state freeze laws are, go to this link provided by Consumer Union:
SPECIAL NOTE FROM THE "2006 IDENTITY THEFT REPORT" (Source: Federal Trade Commission and Synovate, dated November 2007). According to this report, 74% of all ID Theft Victims DID NOT CONTACT POLICE. Of the remaining 26% who reported the crime to police, 19% of that group had NO REPORT taken by the police.
To make matters worse, relatively few "Victims of Identity Theft" took advantage of the fraud alert system or the "Consumer Credit Freeze Law" provisions of their respective states. Approximately 7.0% placed fraud alerts and 7.0% froze their credit files.
To all the consumers that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on "Credit Monitoring Services" over the past three or four years, the next statistic will be troublesome. Only 11.0% of "How Victims Discovered ID Theft", was discovered by these credit monitoring services. According to Consumer Union and other consumer advocate professionals, credit monitoring is not an effective deterrent against stopping "Identity Theft" involving your three national credit bureau agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) reporting systems. By the time you are notified by the credit monitoring services, the "Identity Thieves" have already did their damage. Furthermore, "Fraud Alerts" (Good for 90 days only, must be renewed) does not stop predatory lenders and creditors from granting credit in your name, especially when there is a high commission for them, once the loan is approved.
The only way to stop "Identity Thieves" from accessing your credit files is to "FREEZE YOUR CREDIT FILES".
Please join Consumer Union and our organizations national efforts in passing a "Federal ID Theft Freeze Law" that is uniform across all fifty states. We want it to be low cost to freeze ($5 or less), low cost to unfreeze (Free), mandated "Temporary Quick Thaw Provisions Via Telephone" (15 minutes), and mandated "Creditor Specific Provision" (i.e., Sprint PCS Only) to make it easier for all American Consumers to protect themselves from "Identity Theft".
"IDENTITY THEFT" LEGISLATION CAN NO LONGER BE ACCOMPLISHED BY STATE GOVERNMENTS. LET THE STATE LEGISLATORS VOTING RECORD FOR 2005 SPEAK FOR ITSELF.
"IDENTITY THEFT" IS A NATIONAL PROBLEM THAT NEEDS A NATIONAL FIX.
WE HAVE FIVE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-FIVE MEMBERS IN CONGRESS THAT NEEDS TO SIT DOWN AND DISCUSS AND PASS ALL CRITICAL LEGISLATION THAT PERTAINS TO "IDENTITY THEFT". THEY NEED TO STRENGTHEN EXISTING STATE LAWS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN PASSED.
WE DO NOT NEED CONGRESS TO PASS NEW LEGISLATION THAT WILL WEAKEN AND REPLACE EXISTING STATE LAWS.
"Identity Thieves" are now trying to steal your identities so they can gain access to your credit bureau files "TO RIP YOU OFF". They are stealing mail to gain access to credit card offers and other personal financial information that can be used to open up new accounts without your knowledge. Since it takes the three national credit bureau's any where from thirty to ninety days to update your credit bureau files, you won't know if you have become a "Victim of Identity Theft" until you run your credit reports sometime in late January 2009 or sometime in February or March 2009.
Our seminars will be covering subjects that will help you if you have became a "Victim of Identity Theft" during the holidays. If you didn't become another statistic during the holidays, then our "Awareness and Prevention Seminar will teach you "How To Not Become An "Identity Theft Victim" in the future.
Before you make that mad dash to the malls for all of your "Christmas Shopping", keep these "Identity Theft Preventions Tips" in mind.
ID Theft Prevention Tips
ID Theft Tip #1 - Choose one purse (Ladies, please leave your Gucci's and Coach purse's at home, don't become a neon sign for the thieves) or wallet to use when you go out shopping. Clean out your purses and wallets of medical cards, social security cards, other identification cards that can be used to get services (rental cars, airlines, etc.) and old credit card receipts (some still have your entire number on them). If you insist on carrying everything with you, lay everything out on your bed and take pictures of the entire contents of your purse or wallet. That way if your purse (wallet) is stolen, you know what is missing if you ever recover it.
ID Theft Tip #2 - Carry no more than two (2) credit cards at a time when shopping. If you use a debit card, use your four digit pin when you can. Ask! Remember, all credit card machines and receipts are not the same. Many small merchants still use the duplicate receipts (white (top copy) for them, yellow (bottom copy) for you). Always separate the white and yellow copies before signing your name to the store's copy. Receipt is printed on NCR paper so your signature will end up on both copies if you don't separate them. If your wallet or purse is stolen, the "Identity Thief" will have your most recent signature to forge. This could cause you problems when you're claiming you have become a "Victim of Identity Theft".
ID Theft Tip #3 - Ladies, Please lock your cars when you are fueling up your car. We have had several victims tell us that their purses were stolen in less than ten seconds while at the pumps.
ID Theft Tip #4 - Run your free credit report from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion now if you haven't done so this year (go to www.annualcreditreport.com). Make sure no one has opened new accounts in your name without you knowledge or permission. Re-run your credit reports again in Mid-February 2007 to make sure no one has stolen your account information during the holidays.
ID Theft #5 - Use your credit card instead of your debit card. Limits of liability are different for each type of card. See your credit card agreements for clarification. This ID Theft Prevention Tip is Good, All Year Long. If you travel (air, car, bus, or train) on business or pleasure, please be extra careful. Use only credit cards, cash, and traveler's checks when you are driving cross-country. We have had victim's banks accounts emptied out in just a matter of hours because someone skimmed their debit card while they were eating. If you need cash while you're on the road, make sure your cash withdrawals are from a bank facility or a drive-thru bank ATM machine. Make sure the slot area on the outside of the ATM machine is flat and nothing is sticking out. Also, make sure nothing is attached to the ATM machine like a box of deposit/withdrawals slips that is facing the pin pad (there could be a camera inside recording your pin number). If you see either one of these things, do not use it. Notify bank personal immediately. If after hours, notify local police.
Remember, while you are shopping, "Identity Thieves" are shopping also. Don't be careless or you could be paying for it the rest of this year and next. Thank you for your continued support of our web site. Remember to share this web address with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. By sharing, you might prevent someone close to you from becoming a "Victim of Identity Theft".
Please remember that "Identity Theft" strikes nineteen (19) new victims a minute in the U.S. (FTC - 2005). Don't become one of the nineteen (19) new victims.
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You can send your ID Theft Victim Stories to : Identity Theft Victims U.S., Attention: Victim Stories, P.O. Box 2723, Wylie, TX. 75098-2723