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With Privacy Breaches at Large Retailers, OSPIRG Offers Consumers Tips to Protect Against Identity Theft
In light of recent privacy breaches at retailers like Target, Neiman Marcus and a potential breach this past week at Michaels, OSPIRG today released a resource, "Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft", offering straightforward steps consumers can take to help keep control of their information.
The resource includes advice on how to avoid identity theft, how to detect it and what to do if your information has been compromised. OSPIRG's advice covers how to make secure payments as well as how to minimize the damage identity theft can do to your credit. Consumers can also find information on how to take advantage of assistance offered by government agencies in restoring security to their information.
The top tips include:
- Check your credit card and bank account statements regularly for fraudulent transactions and report them immediately to the company with which you have an account.
- If someone has stolen your information, get an Identity Theft Affidavit by reporting the breach to the Federal Trade Commission using the online complaint form or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT and requesting the Affidavit when given the option.
- Contact the three major credit reporting companies to get a free credit report and place a fraud alert and security freeze on your accounts. If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, you are entitled to an additional free credit report even if you have already received a free credit report from the credit bureaus within the last 12 months.
Here is contact information for the three major credit reporting companies:
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
"Consumers can use our guide to help avoid, detect and recover from identity theft," said OSPIRG's Evan Preston.
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