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Identity theft threat abounds; take cautions to overcome it

November 23, 2010
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States. According to the U.S. Justice Department, identity theft refers to "crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain." Dealers must be alert if they suspect that their employees, their customers or even themselves are victims of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission suggests taking the following steps. 1. Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus, report the theft, ask that a new "fraud alert" be placed on the file and that no new credit be granted without approval. 2. For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the security department of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions. Close those accounts and assign new passwords to any new accounts. 3. File a report with the local police or the police where the identity theft occurred. Get the police report number or a copy of the report, in case the bank or other creditor wants proof of the crime. 4. Report the theft to the ID Theft Clearinghouse, tollfree at 877-ID-THEFT. Counselors take complaints and offer advice on how to deal with any credit-related problems that could result from the ID theft. For more information, visit the FTC's ID Theft Web site, The information is excerpted from a National Automobile Dealers Association management bulletin, "Identity Theft: An Insidious Threat." Order the bulletin at 800-252- 6232, ext. 2. Cost is $2.50 for NADA members, $5 for nonmembers, plus shipping. Or, order an electronic version online at