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ID Theft Rises in Provincetown, MA

By Faye Mergel
Published: Friday, January 29th, 2010

Technology has made life easier for many. However, it has also made life easier for identity thieves as they now have more ways to steal from unsuspecting consumers. This week, authorities in Provincetown, M.A. reported that cases of ID theft in the area has gone up, prompting them to remind residents of the importance of reviewing their credit report.

ID Theft Rises in Provincetown, MAAny transaction completed under a person’s name is recorded on his credit report. In cases of identity thief, a victim can easily determine that someone has been using his name if he reviews the items contained in his credit report.

As ID thieves continue to pose threat to millions of American consumers, people in Provincetown are no exception. Police detective Monica Himes said there were 31 calls to the police station last year from residents who were concerned that they have become victims of ID theft. Himes added that the crime is on the rise and she only anticipates it to get worse.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are as many as 10 million Americans who are victimized by ID crooks each year. But experts assure the public that there are many ways to protect themselves against the crime.

Himes says she will publicize what residents need to do and what they should avoid doing in order to avoid becoming victims. She says ID theft protection begins at home. She advises residents to keep their personal documents hidden in their desks and other places where nobody else sees them. It is income tax season, she reminds consumers, making it more necessary for them to be wary of where they place their personal records. Himes also advises residents to check if there is any account on their credit report that does not belong to them.

If a person requests for it, he is entitled by federal law to one free credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion once a year.  In cases where a person suspects that his identity has been stolen, investigators say he must immediately request the credit report agencies (CRAs) to freeze his credit report so no one can access it without a written authorization from him. This prevents ID thieves from using a person’s identity any further.

Second, investigators tell consumers to immediately close any fraudulent account and to place a fraud alert on their credit file. This alert will require creditors to contact a person before opening a new account or making changes on an existing account.

Investigators likewise advise consumers to recall any ATM, credit, or debit card that has been stolen or lost and to notify the issuer of each card.

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