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Cardholders Advised to Place Fraud Alert on Credit Report

By Faye Mergel
Published: Thursday, November 12th, 2009

The number of people whose credit and debit card numbers were stolen by identity thieves have increased significantly as the fourth quarter of 2009 began. Fortunately, the government implemented several measures that will help consumers protect their identity and prevent fraudulent items from ruining their credit report. Experts also enumerated several ways that can help a consumer protect himself from fraudsters.

Cardholders Advised to Place Fraud Alert on Credit ReportConsumers who believe that their card number has been stolen are advised to immediately place a fraud alert on their credit report. The credit reporting agencies – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – say this can easily be done by contacting them through their toll free hotline.  The CRAs add that consumers only need to call one of them since the company contacted is required to inform other companies to place an alert on their respective versions of credit report.

Cardholders who already raised a fraud alert on their account with the CRAs are entitled to a free credit report. Experts advise consumers to review their record carefully and look for inquiries from creditors they have not contacted and for accounts they did not open. Cardholders are also advised to look for debts they could not explain since it may have been opened by another person.

Specialists advise cardholders to close any account that have been fraudulently opened under their name, saying this can be done by contacting the fraud or security department of each company. Consumers are advised to follow up through a letter and to send copies of supporting documents. Experts add that every correspondence must be done through certified mail so cardholders can document the information they have given to a company.

Experts say stolen debit and credit card numbers can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) so the agency can guide consumers on how to prevent more fraudulent accounts from being opened under their name. Cardholders can do this using the FTC online form which can be found in its official website. Experts also say that local officials can help consumers fight the crime.

Cardholders can contact the local police station of the community where they think the theft has been committed. If they cannot file a complaint in person, specialists advise theft victims to do it over the phone or internet. They add that complainants must present their copy of the FTC ID Theft Complaint Form, their cover letter, and any supporting documentation.

To make sure that no more fraud will be committed, consumers are advised to check their credit report periodically, especially a year after the discovery of identity theft.

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