By QCS staff
Identity theft is not some obscure crime merely joked about in humorous bank ads, but a serious crime that’s on the rise — right here in Tucumcari, according to Police Chief Larry Ham, offering some tips to protect yourself:
• Guard your Social Security number.
• Monitor your credit report.
• Shred things — like old bank and credit card statements and unwanted credit card offers.
• Get your name off marketing lists of the three credit-reporting bureaus to reduce the number of preapproved credit offers you receive.
• Get your name on the name-deletion list of the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service used by banks and other markets. Contact them by writing: Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
• Do not unnecessarily carry extra credit cards or identity documents.
• Photocopy the contents of your wallet.
• Mail bill payments and checks at the post office.
• Do not print your Social Security number on your checks.
• Order your Social Security earnings and benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.
• Cancel unused credit card accounts.
• Never give your credit card number or personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and you trust that business.
• Subscribe to a credit-reporting service that will notify you whenever someone applies for credit in your name.
If you think you have become a victim of identity theft, Ham suggests taking the following actions:
• First, contact the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax at (800) 525-6285, Experian at (888) EXPERIAN, and TransUnion at (800) 680-7289; second, close the accounts in question; third, file a report with your local police department or in the community in which the theft took place. Tucumcari’s number is 461-2160; finally, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.