Boston, MA (PRWEB) March 04, 2014
The retail industry has experienced an onslaught of data security breaches, placing millions of consumers at risk of becoming victims of identity theft. To help consumers minimize the damage, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling offers the “Identity Theft Checklist,” a step-by-step guide on what to do and how to protect yourself from financial damage if your identity has been stolen.
Over 16.6 million cases of identity fraud were reported in 2012 and affected 7 percent of U.S. households, according to the Bureau of Justice Identity Theft Report. These identity theft cases amounted to $24.7 billion in total losses – a 187 percent increase since 2009.
“Identity theft has become a national epidemic with millions of Americans’ personal and financial information stolen from the systems of major corporations such as Yahoo, Target and Neiman Marcus,” stated Steve Trumble, president and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “If you do find that your privacy and security have been violated, make sure you take the necessary precautions to ensure that the thieves do not destroy your credit score and financial future.”
If you have misplaced your driver’s license, credit card, debit card, or social security card, you could be at risk for identity theft. With National Consumer Protection Week beginning on March 3rd, follow ACCC’s “Identity Theft Checklist” if you are at risk or have been a victim.
1. Contact each of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and ask to place an identity theft alert on your reports.
a. Often if you are a victim of a large-scale security breach such as the 2007 TJX Corporation or 2013 Target breaches the corporation at fault will provide you with 1 year of free monitoring at no cost to you.
2. Contact your bank and creditors. You can report stolen/missing cards, as well as any fraudulent activity on your statements. You can also close/freeze any accounts that have been tampered with.
3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission. File a complaint with the FTC and you will receive a document verifying that you are the victim. Then, fill out the ID theft affidavit.
4. Contact your local police department. File a report with local police. Your identity should be treated like any other stolen property. Document and report the theft to begin the investigation. Get a copy of the report as evidence for re-securing your identity and removing the fraudulent charges.
“The most common way that thieves use stolen information is to open a credit account or a bank account,” added Trumble. “By contacting each credit reporting agency, you can assure that your money is protected and that any fraudulent accounts under your name will be flagged before they can unjustly ruin your credit score.”
For more information on Identity Theft please visit the Education section of our website: http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education/identity-theft.aspx.
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health through education, counseling, and debt management. ACCC provides individuals with practical solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC works with consumers to help them with the best plan of action to reduce their debt and regain financial stability. ACCC is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A+ rating. It is also a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.