Identity theft has been called the fastest growing crime of the Millennium. It is popular with criminals because it is easy to commit, and is considered a faceless, victimless crime. Victims of identity theft would disagree since, on average, they spend $18,000 of their own money and 175 hours clearing their name and credit. The average amount stolen per victim is $18,000.
To prevent identity theft, order a credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies:
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742), www.experian.com, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289, www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285, www.equifax.com, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Scrutinize the credit report for errors, new accounts (credit or utility) or address changes. Report inaccuracies immediately. Do not carry unnecessary credit cards or ID, especially Social Security cards. DO NOT RESPOND to e-mails from banks, credit card companies or internet commerce sites such as Amazon, Ebay or America Online. These companies will NEVER ask for personal information via e-mail. Be careful who you provide personal information to without knowing what is required, how or by whom it will be used. Do not send mail from a home mailbox as thieves look for the “red flag” to alert them to outgoing mail. Finally, do not leave wallets or purses in cars since car burglaries are the easiest way to gain access to personal information. For further information, you can visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ or contact the Burr Ridge Police Department.