News & Info.

   Identity Theft:

   There is no foolproof way to prevent identity theft, but there are steps to minimize the risk of becoming a victim. The first way is to place a security freeze on credit reports. Consumers can do this for a one time fee of $10.00 to each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

   A security freeze prohibits the credit bureaus from releasing credit reports to lenders without the consumers direct permission. The drawback? it stops the consumer's ability to get instant credit because the freeze first has to be lifted;

   The advantage is that it also stops any potential identity theif from getting credit in the consumers name. It locks the credit file so no pot-

ential, creditor, or anyone else for that matter, can see your report. These tips are recommended by a non-profit consumer advocacy group on privacy rights called, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse based in San Diego California.

   Tip #2, Order your credit report at least once a year. Federal law gives you the right to one free credit report each year from the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

   Tip #3, Stagger your requests and obtain one report every four months. That way, you can monitor your credit reports on an ongoing basis for free. Example order one report from Equifax, then four months later order one from Experian, and then four months later one from TransUnion.

   Tip #4, If you believe you are a victim of identity theft or are in danger of becoming one, contact all three credit bureaus and obtain a free "fraud alert" Fraud alerts warn creditors to take steps to verify the identity of anyone seeking credit in your name. The fraud alerts are good for 90 days and can be renewed.

   Eqiufax fraud department: (888) 766-0008

   Experian fraud department (888) 397-3742,

   TransUnion fraud department: (800) 680-7289,

   Tip #5, Examine your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement each year to check for fraud. The Social Security Administration mails it to adult-age SSN holders about three months before their birthdays. The Social Security Administration Web site offers additional information at

   Tip #6, Contact the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse for additional tips on safeguarding your identity at For more information on your free credit reports, visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site at




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