First Person: Preventing Identity Theft

Yahoo Contributor Network

As a victim of identity theft, I often pride myself on knowing what to look out for when someone or some company is trying to phish for my identity. I know the rules, guard your social security number, check your credit report often, and be mindful of who has your identifiable information. But even people who are well equipped with the information needed to deter identity theft, are sometimes caught off guard.

Last month, I received a strange phone call from a company's name that I not recognize. When I asked the person on the phone for more information about their company, they asked me to verify my identity. They requested my social security #, my name and address. I did what was requested of me, except I only provided the last four digits of my social security number. Once verified, the company refused to tell me what the matter was about, only that I had to pay them $500 immediately or legal action would be taken against me. I knew I owed no such debt and I immediately took action to make sure no one could be harassed by the company's fraudulent activity. Here is a look at how I dealt with a fraudulent company that was trying to steal my identity.

I Did Some Online Research

The very first thing I did was boot up my computer and I performed a search query on the company's name. Immediately, I was presented with multiple pages of search results. Many other people were complaining about the company, saying that they are fraudulent, and tried to extort money from their bank accounts. In some cases, where the company couldn't obtain banking information, like my own, they resorted to filing unethical and illegal charges on the consumers' credit report. I was appalled by what I was reading, and I knew exactly what I had to do.

I Called the Fair Trade Commission

I picked up the phone and contacted the Fair Trade Commission. A gentleman at the FTC told me that this was a very common and highly fraudulent practice that some companies are practicing in order to defraud consumers from their hard earned money. I filed a complaint with the FTC, and was advised to keep an eye on my credit report.

I Pulled My Credit Report and Contacted the Major Credit Bureaus

As requested, I pulled my credit report and I didn't see anything glaring but I decided to be pro-active and call the major credit bureaus as a precaution. They put a fraud alert on my credit report, and confirmed that they did not see anything suspicious as of yet. I will be following up with them in 30 days time.

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