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If you open a credit account, ask that a password be used before any inquiries or changes can be made on account. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, last four digits of your SSN or your phone number - same holds true for pin numbers.
While there is not a whole lot you can do to prevent this, there are things you can do, to protect your credit if it does happen.
Contact fraud departments of each of three major credit bureaus. (Equifax - www.equifax.com - Experian - www.experian.com and Trans Union - www.tuc.com) All of them offer advice on what to do if there has been fraud committed. Tell them to flag your file with a fraud alert, including a statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts in your name.
If you discover that an identity thief has changed billing address on an existing credit card account, immediately close account, and request credit bureaus for copies of your credit reports. Credit bureaus must give you a free copy of your report if it is inaccurate because of fraud.
Regardless of how thieves got, or used information, report it to police department. That way, if there is a question down line, there will be an official report available.
Identity theft is a serious problem. If you feel that this has happened, immediately take steps outlined above. When someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge, it's a crime, pure and simple.
While it may cause you problems when trying to straighten out mess, hopefully it will cause perpetrators even bigger problems. Those two Memphis men face millions of dollars in fines and several decades worth of prison time.
Bob publishes the free weekly "Your Business" Newsletter Visit his Web Site at - http://adv-marketing.com - to subscribe.