01/10/2014

(Note: GreenPath recently appeared on the FOX Detroit affiliate to discuss what to do if you become a victim of identity theft. Highlights included some tips from the FOX Detroit Money Page. Watch an interview with GreenPath on the FOX Detroit affiliate, by clicking here.)

As the Target security data breach grows to more than 110 million credit card accounts, GreenPath has listed some tips on what to do if you become a vicitm of identity theft:

3 TIPS – CONTACTS TO MAKE IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF ID THEFT

1. Contact the three credit bureaus and tell them that you have been a victim of identity theft.

Equifax fraud division
800-525-6285
www.fraudalerts.equifax.com

Experian fraud division
888-397-3742
www.experian.com/fraud

Trans Union fraud division
800-680-7289
www.transunion.com

2. Contact your creditors directly and ask to speak to someone in the security department. Freeze the existing account.

3. Contact local law enforcement and get a police report. This will serve as documentation that a crime has occurred.

"It can be a time-consuming process to clear your name when you have been a victim of identity theft," said Andrew Johnson, GreenPath communications manager. "By taking some preventive measures, you can ensure a smooth shopping experience in 2014."

Keep up with GreenPath Financial Wellness on social media at www.facebook.com/greenpathdebt and www.twitter.com/greenpathdebt.

For more information, log on to www.greenpath.org or call (866) 648-8122.

5 TIPS – KEEPING YOUR ID SAFE IN PUBLIC

GreenPath provides 5 quick tips for consumers on protecting their identity throughout the year:

  1. Before you leave your house, take out the credit cards that you know you will not be using.
  2. Copy the front and back information on your card, so you have contact information quickly in case your card is stolen.
  3. Do not carry your Social Security card with you. That number is vital in opening new credit accounts.
  4. Watch where you leave your card when you shop. "Don't leave your credit card on the counter with people around," said Johnson. "A simple click of a camera phone or good memory can capture your name, card number and expiration date."  A thief can then use that number instantly to buy goods online.
  5. Keep your receipts in your purse or wallet, not in the bag. This will make it easier to track your merchandise spending and help you to stay within your budget.

5 TIPS – KEEPING YOUR IDENTITY SAFE ON-LINE

If you are shopping online this season, here are 5 quick tips to keep your identification safe:

  1. Always initiate the transaction yourself. Do not open a store's website through a received email. Physically type in the web address of the outlet and look around carefully to make sure it is the actual website.
  2. When entering credit card information as part of transaction, make sure the web address starts with a secure extension, shown as https://.
  3. If you shop online in a public location, like at a library, make sure you log out and click the "back" button, when you are finished with a shopping session.
  4. Shopping at the coffee house? Use their approved, secure wi-fi server.
  5. Use your credit card wisely when shopping online. The added convenience of shopping from your couch might cause you to drop your guard. Be aware of your online surroundings at all times.

HELP PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT

  1. Shred credit card applications, don't throw in trash.
  2. Be aware of your online surroundings.
  3. Initiate the transaction online.
  4. In the store, keep your card close-by, always double-check that you have it when you leave.
  5. Read your credit card statement carefully each month.
  6. Watch your mail for any questionable credit applications (different address, name variation)
  7. Pull your free credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com

IF YOU ARE A VICTIM:

  1. Contact the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion)
  2. Contract your creditors and freeze the account.
  3. Contact your local police to file a report.
  4. GreenPath can help you read your credit report and work on other debt issues by calling (866) 648-8122.