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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Releases “Ten Tips to Prevent Identity Theft” in Recognition of National Protect Your Identity Week

BALTIMORE, MD ( October 20, 2009) - In recognition of National Protect Your Identity Week, October 17 - October 24, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released today the top ten tips to prevent identity theft. Identity theft is an ongoing problem for consumers and the Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit can provide consumers with advice on how to protect themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft.

“Consumers need to be alert to scams and technology aimed at gaining their personal information,” said Attorney Gansler. “It is important for Maryland consumers to take the necessary steps to protect their personal information and the Identity Theft Unit is able to assist Marylanders in their efforts to combat identity theft.”

Attorney General Gansler’s Ten Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

    1. Shred all documents containing personal information, such as bank account numbers or Social Security Numbers, instead of throwing them in the garbage or recycling bin.
    2. Check your credit report. Maryland residents are able to obtain a free copy of their credit reports twice per year, once from each of the three major credit bureaus under federal law by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com and once per each credit bureau under state law by contacting the bureaus at their toll-free numbers.
    3. Never give out personal information to people, companies or organizations you don’t know!
    4. Look out for skimming devices attached to ATM machines that can be used to capture your debit or credit card information.
    5. Use a credit card instead of a debit card. While both types of cards offer protection against fraud, with a debit card, fraudulent charges will continue to be deducted from your account until the matter has been resolved.
    6. Get a locking mailbox to prevent mail theft.
    7. Opt out of junk mail and pre-screened credit card offers.
    8. Place a credit freeze on your credit report. The “freeze” completely blocks the information on your credit report from new creditors. Most businesses won’t open credit accounts without first checking your credit history.
    9. If you use the Internet, make sure your virus protection is up-to-date and use a secure wireless network.
    10. Be wary of scams - they are sent via e-mail, phone, text message or letters. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Banks will not contact you by e-mail to alert you to a security problem with your account or ask you to provide personal information.

The Identity Theft Unit may also be able to help Marylanders address some of the problems that identity theft causes, such as dealing with credit card companies or collection agencies. Victims can also request an Identity Theft Passport, a tool that may help resolve financial issues caused by identity theft, and may also help prevent a wrongful arrest if a thief uses personal identifying information during the commission of a crime.

For more information on identity theft, call 410-576-6574 or visit the Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit online at www.oag.state.md.us/idtheft.

   

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