National Protect Your Identity Week Reminds Public of Threat of Identity Theft

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Equifax shares tips to help protect yourself and your family.

Identity theft is a crime we all need to be aware of because all of us, including our family members, are vulnerable. But by being mindful of how and when you share your information, you can reduce your risk of being targeted.

In appreciation of National Protect Your Identity Week, which takes place Oct. 20-27, Equifax is urging the public to take a proactive stance in the defense against identity theft.

Identity theft is a serious and fast-growing crime across America. The Federal Trade Commission reported more than 279,000 identity theft complaints in 2011, an 11.6 percent increase over the year before. After becoming a victim, it can take years to regain your identity.

Now is a good time for parents to learn how to safeguard their children’s identities from theft as well. According to a 2011 Carnegie Mellon study, one in 10 children has had his or her identity compromised. Children of all ages can become identity theft victims, whether it’s at birth while in the hospital or when they’re teenagers sharing information online. People should also be cognizant of the threat to elderly family members, as senior citizens are often seen as targets by identity thieves.

“Identity theft is a crime we all need to be aware of because all of us, including our family members, are vulnerable,” said Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions unit at Equifax. “But by being mindful of how and when you share your information, you can reduce your risk of being targeted.”

Here are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family:

  •     Streamline your wallet. Carry identifying documents (like your Social Security card, birth certificate and passport) or those of your family members only when necessary.
  •     When not in use, lock important documents in a lockbox.
  •     When filling out paperwork, such as registration forms for your child’s school or physician, ask if there is any other identifying information you could use instead of a Social Security number.
  •     Use the web wisely. Only give out information to verified websites and when you initiated contact; use unique passwords with numbers and symbols; and monitor your child’s activity on the web.
  •     Likewise, only share personal information over the phone when you’ve initiated contact and can be sure who is on the other line.
  •     Read over your bank statements carefully and look for any unusual activity.
  •     Also look out for other signs of a problem, like failing to receive monthly bills or other mail; being denied credit; or receiving calls from debt collectors for accounts you didn’t open.
  •     If you believe your information may have been compromised from, for instance, an Internet data breach or a lost or stolen wallet, you can place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit file through Equifax or the other credit reporting agencies, which lets creditors know they should take extra steps to verify the legitimacy of a request for new credit.
  •     For added security, consider a credit monitoring and identity theft protection product for yourself such as Equifax Complete™ Premier Plan, or for your family, such as Equifax Complete™ Family Plan, which can help protect the identities of two adults and up to four minor children in one comprehensive plan.

For more information about the Equifax Complete suite of products, visit the Equifax website (http://www.equifax.com/compare-products/ ). Learn more about child identity theft in our downloadable education kit.

About Equifax

Equifax Personal Solutions empowers consumers with the confidence and control to be their financial best. Find out more about Equifax’s innovative suite of credit monitoring and identity theft protection products designed to enable consumers to maximize their financial well-being at http://www.equifax.com. Get smart information on everything from credit to retirement, all in one place at the Equifax Finance Blog, http://www.blog.equifax.com.

Equifax is a global leader in consumer and commercial information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers. Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 18 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. For more information, please visit http://www.equifax.com.

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Caroline Wilbert
Equifax, Inc.
(404) 965-5021
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Michele Cacdac-Jones
Equifax, Inc.
(678) 795-7885
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