Identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently uses your personal information such as your Social Security number, your credit card number, or your bank information to get things for themselves.
Before you are even aware, identity thieves can take out a mortgage, obtain a credit card, and ruin your credit and good name.
Fortunately, AARP New Jersey fought for and won comprehensive identity theft prevention legislation in New Jersey. The Identity Theft Prevention Act provides consumers with the best line of defense against identity theft: the “security freeze.”
A security freeze gives consumers the choice to “freeze” or lock access to their credit file. When a “freeze” is in effect, consumers can still access their own information using a special code. Thieves, however, will be barred from accessing this information.
Best of all, it is free to freeze your account. To turn on a security freeze, you need to contact each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Send letters to the credit bureaus via overnight or certified mail. In your letters, include the following information:
- Full name (and former names if applicable)
- Current address
- Former addresses in the last 5 years
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Photocopies of a government issued identity card and proof of residence such as a utility bill or phone bill
You can unfreeze you credit report at anytime, for a small fee of $5 or less. You will need to unfreeze your credit report when applying for a loan or a credit card.
Freeze your account today, and protect yourself from identity theft.
To learn more about identity theft, view the AARP Identity Theft Brochure or call 1-800-242-5846.
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