10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

3. Call your credit card issuers and request an “account number change.” Don’t say you want to cancel the account; that may be misunderstood as meaning you want to close it, which could inconvenience you and hurt your credit score.

4. File a report with your hometown police department and the one where you think your wallet went missing. Get a copy of the reports and send duplicates to your bank and credit-reporting bureaus.

5. Alert your bank to change PINs, cancel your missing ATM card and send you a new one. Get a new checking account number if your checkbook is missing.

6. Place a “fraud alert” or “security freeze” on your file at the three major credit bureaus: Experian at 888-397-3742 toll-free (experian.com), Equifax at 800-525-6285 (equifax.com) and Trans-Union at 800-680-7289 (transunion.com). Alerts are free for everyone; freezes are more secure and sometimes free for people 65 and older.

7. Contact your DMV about a replacement driver’s license and ask that a stolen/lost warning be placed in your file.

Speak Out: Tell us about scams and fraud you’ve come across

8. Ask private medical insurers for a replacement account number to avoid insurance fraud. Call Medicare. Notify your auto insurer to be sure you’ll avoid problems if the thief makes an accident claim from your policy. Ask if your homeowner’s policy includes ID theft protection; some do.

9. Check your credit report about two weeks after the wallet’s loss. To get a free report, visit annual creditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 toll-free. Two weeks is enough time for thieves to apply for credit in your name, but generally not enough for new cards to be issued. Recheck your credit report two to three months later.

10. And don’t forget to replace that library card.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Article source: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-09-2013/prevent-identity-theft.html

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