Preventing identity theft is so important because recovering from it can be so very hard. In fact, 10 percent of all victims spent at least 55 hours resolving their problems. The top 5 percent of victims spent at least 130 hours. For information about preventing and recovering from identity theft, check out the following resources.
-October 19-25 is National Protect Your Identity Week. The National Foundation for Consumer Credit spearheaded this initiative designed to bring identity theft awareness and prevention programs to consumers. Information can be found at ProtectYourIDNow.org.
-The Consumer Information Center, part of the federal government's General Services Administration offers a variety of publications to help consumers make smart choices and understand their rights. Many publications are free by writing CRH, Pueblo, CO 81009, by calling the toll free number 888-8PUEBLO or visiting Pueblo.gsa.gov.
-The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices. The FTC’s Web site at FTC.gov is full of useful consumer information. You can also reach the FTC by calling 877-FTC-HELP. Although the FTC does not act to resolve individual problems, it does look for patterns of possible law violations.
-Because lending and collection laws vary from state to state, you may want to learn about your state’s laws. Each state has one or more agencies dedicated to protecting consumers. Many of these offices are housed in the Office of the Attorney General. To find the consumer protection offices nearest you, visit ConsumerAction.gov.
-The official Web portal for the U.S. government, USA.gov links you to government representatives, services and information at the federal, state and local level. You can get easy-to-understand information from the government 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
-The National Fraud Information Center gives consumers the information they need to avoid becoming victims of telemarketing and Internet fraud and to help them get their complaints to law enforcement agencies quickly and easily. Visit them on the Web at Fraud.org.