Bravo to Dateline's Chris Hansen for "To Catch an ID Thief" Investigation!

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Chris Hansen's "To catch an ID thief" on Dateline last night should be a real eye opener to those consumers who are not doing all they can to protect their identity. It was more than apparent in Dateline's investigation; that with the continued growth of technology, consumers and law enforcement agencies continue to be left trailing behind the ever creative minds of criminals.

(If you missed this show -do yourself a favor and watch this short video you'll be glad you did!)

Credit card companies will tell you they are the victims because they suffer the financial losses -but what they continue to minimize, is the devastating effects it has on your life. Consumers faced with these types of crimes must spend countless hours, days, weeks, months and often years, cleaning up the mess dropped into their lives -once it has been discovered. You must prove you are the victim and not the criminal -often times while sitting in jail.

I'm frequently asked "What can I do to protect myself?" My answer? Be proactive! Be prepared. Learn your options -before you learn a crime has occurred using your name.

What should you do?

Contact one of the national credit bureaus--Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742), or TransUnion (800-680-7289)--and ask that a fraud alert be put on your account; it will advise creditors to verify any information about new accounts with you directly before establishing new credit. These fraud alerts will only remain active for about 90 days. You must continue to request them at least every three months.

You can obtain your free annual credit report, from each bureau at or by calling the toll free number at 877-322-8228. Review the credit reports and be watchful for inaccurately reported addresses you never lived at, erroneous middle initials or name variations, incorrectly reported employment and of course, accounts that are not yours.

File a Police Report with your local police department if you believe you are a victim. Tell them that you need to file a formal document to help you clear up the theft that has already occurred. Notify the Federal Trade Commission and your state Attorney General.

Contact the creditor of each fraudulent account and keep copious notes and records of these conversations. You'll be asked to fill out the standard FTC affidavit, available at

Send all of your creditors a copy of your police report--and request the credit bureaus forward you an application requesting that your fraud alerts remain on your credit report for longer than the standard 90 days. When a police report has been filed it validates your claim--be sure to send out all correspondence via certified mail with a return receipt at the post office.

The creditor must, upon your request, supply you with the documents pertaining to the fraudulent account. This includes the application for the account and all transaction records. You can then use these records to help prove your innocence and remove the fraudulent accounts. You must convince the creditor that you were a victim of identity theft in order for the lender to take the necessary steps to remove the charges from your account and additionally report fraud to the credit bureaus.

Never use your debit card on line or give any personal information, passwords or account numbers or your Social Security number to someone who calls or e-mails you requesting it.

Shred your utility bills, financial statements, credit card offers, and loan statements;

Call 888-5OPTOUT to have your name removed from all three of the credit bureaus marketing lists;

Most importantly -if for whatever reason, you can not commit to the required amount of time involved in protecting your identity, then hire a company that will do all the above for you.

Someone needs to guard your identity and if it isn't going to be you -spend the small amount of money required to have someone else do it for you!

After struggling for many years to protect my identity, and continually failing to successfully do so -I quit doing it myself.

I realized that if these threats would continue because my SSN -was out there. And that number follows me for life --and so will the thieves who get their hands on it. 

I discovered that for a small amount of money, I could turn over the burden of protecting and restoring my identity to an identity theft protection company. But before doing so, I had to first do my homework --and you should do your homework too before chosing to do the same.


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Kudos to Chris Hansen and MSNBC to extending their "To Catch A..." series. Identity theft is a growing problem and most people are unaware of the dangers. Good information in this article.

i paid for an item off of ebay i paid through paypal on Oct.23 filed a claim on Nov.6 escalated it into a claim on Nov.8 it was decided in my favor on Nov.19 The sellers name is Justin Thompson in Orange County Cal. email add. is $1000.00 may not be alot to some people but to me and my wife its alot PLEASE HELP US 864-283-1232 THANKS ALOT CHRIS

Chris -I am sorry to hear this happened to you. Stay on top of eBay until you get your money back and/or find satisfaction on how this works out. Please keep us posted.

By you sharing your experiences -it will help others avoid a similar fate when buying items from unknown sellers.

keep us posted...

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A memoir exposing the steep price consumers pay when facing mortgage servicing errors, inaccurate credit reporting, illegal debt collection practices, identity theft and weak consumer protection laws. THE BOOK » DENISE'S STORY »