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    March 2013
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    My laptop was stolen in United States..how can I protect myself against identity theft in U.S. ?

    Guy Conger

    You are right to be concerned
    about identity theft since
    identity thieves can use your
    personal financial information to access bank
    accounts and credit cards, and make
    unauthorized transactions in your name. As a
    result, it’s important to act fast in order to
    protect yourself from any potential attempts at
    misusing your financial information.
    Your first step should be to contact one of the
    three major credit reporting agencies, i.e.,
    Equifax, Experian, or Transunion, and place a
    fraud alert on your credit report to prevent
    someone from opening a new account in your
    name. The agency you contact will then forward
    your information to the other two agencies. You
    can also find out if your state allows you to
    “freeze” your credit report, which will prevent
    any unauthorized access to your credit
    information. Once you place a fraud alert on
    your credit report, you are entitled to a free
    copy of your report from each of the credit
    reporting agencies. Review each of your credit
    reports and notify the agencies of any
    fraudulent or suspicious activity. You should
    also contact any financial institutions or credit
    card companies with which you have accounts.
    Ask to have your current accounts closed and
    open new ones with new account numbers. If
    possible, you should also request that your new
    accounts include additional safeguards such as
    password protection.
    Finally, if you suspect that your financial
    information has already been misused, you’ll
    want to consider taking the following steps:
    • Contact the appropriate financial institution
    and dispute any unauthorized charges or
    transactions as soon as possible. Generally,
    your liability will depend on how quickly you
    notify them.
    • Consider filing a complaint with the Federal
    Trade Commission (FTC), which will entitle
    you to certain identity theft protections. You
    can go to www.ftc.gov for more information.
    • File a police report with your local law
    enforcement agency. A police report can be
    helpful when filing an extended fraud alert or
    disputing unauthorized transactions.

    The MONEY® Network