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How PrivacyGuard Can Help

Below are possible identity theft situations you may face, and how PrivacyGuard can help.

What and Who — The Factors That Make Up Identity Theft

Here are two factors that are always present in the identity theft process: sensitive information and an identity thief. Without one, the other doesn't exist.

Sensitive Information — Sensitive personal data can be found on the Internet, in a trash bin, in an unprotected mailbox, in a stolen or lost wallet... and that's just the start. And when identity thieves are involved, it doesn't matter how or where they gain access to information. Their minds are on one thing: using or selling the information for their own gain.

The Identity Thief — Who would do such a thing? Who would steal someone else's personal information? Simply stated, identity thieves have one thing in common: they don't care whose information they steal, as long as they can make a profit from it.

Your PrivacyGuard Solution: Credit Monitoring
As a PrivacyGuard member, you can rest assured that your credit is being monitored 24/7/365 at the three major credit reporting agencies. Through our Credit Monitoring feature, alerts will be sent to you should certain important information be changed in your credit file. You can also choose to receive these alerts via email or SMS text message.

Stolen Data — How Thieves Like to Use Your Information

The majority of stolen personal information is used to open new accounts. These account types include checking and savings, mobile phone, loan, credit card, electronic payments, and online accounts. Most other data misuse is through a victim's existing card or non–card accounts. Unfortunately, all it takes is a small bit of information for a criminal to open a new account in your name.

At the top of the identity theif wishlist are Full Name and Social Security number. Combined, these two pieces of data could give an identity thief enough information to do everything from opening up a credit card account to taking out a loan. And what happens once these new accounts (or existing accounts) are abused by a thief? From insurance companies, to banks, to utility companies, to landlords, a victim can be denied service based on the unsound condition of his or her credit.

Your PrivacyGuard Solution: Credit Report Monitoring
Remember... as a PrivacyGuard member, you can view your updated credit report every month. If an inquiry is made on your credit or if a new account is opened, you will automatically be alerted. If you find a discrepancy in your report, PrivacyGuard will help you to investigate.

Time for a Credit Check

To maintain your credit status, you first need to make sure there aren't any inaccuracies on your credit report. One of the best ways to do that is by consistently checking your credit report.

What is a Credit Report? A credit report contains information about your credit borrowing history. With data gathered from one or all three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax®, Experian®, TransUnion®), potential lenders can see details about your borrowing behavior.

What is a Credit Score? To make it easy for lenders and other creditors to assess your creditworthiness, the credit score was developed. Since each of the three credit reporting agencies have their own data, your score might differ between them. It's very important to know all three scores because if one agency's score is much lower (or higher) than the others, it means there could be an identity theft or credit reporting inaccuracy.

Why you should never stop keeping an eye on your credit report and credit score.
Identity Theft and Credit Fraud — By monitoring your credit report on a consistent basis, you will discover if new accounts have been opened. You will also be able to see if account balances have increased.
Credit Reporting Inaccuracies — By continually reviewing your credit report, you can find any inaccuracies and dispute them quickly in order to resolve potential issues.
Score Ups and Downs — If you see that your credit score goes up or down dramatically and you know you haven't done anything to warrant that activity, you should investigate the cause.
Your Financial Future — Knowledge is power, and knowing what's going on with your credit at all times is important to your financial future. Being aware of activity gives you the ability to take action and investigate information that is inaccurate.

Your PrivacyGuard Solution: Credit Report and Credit Score Monitoring
PrivacyGuard members have access to their Credit Report with combined information from all three credit reporting agencies. It's in an easy–to–read format so you can know at a glance where your credit stands. Plus you get your credit scores compiled from files at the three major credit reporting agencies with an explanation on how you might be able to enhance them.

“I'm a Victim! Now What?”

So the first question is, How do you know if you're a victim of identity theft? There are numerous signs, but most likely you'll notice one of the following:

  • You're denied a credit card because of a low credit score when you know you've always paid your bills on time.
  • You receive a phone call or written communication that tells you you've been approved or denied credit for an account you never requested.
  • You stop receiving credit card statements.
  • Your credit card statement includes charges for things you know you never bought.
  • A collection agency calls to request payment for an account you never opened.

At this point, it's obvious you're a victim. You might feel violated or helpless. You might even feel guilty that somehow you allowed this happen. No matter what the truth is, or isn't, you must take action immediately before the consequences get out of hand.

Resolving Your Identity Theft Problem: This Could Take Some Time.

The Steps to Take If you find you are a victim of identity theft or credit fraud, there are specific things you must do to resolve the situation. As a PrivacyGuard member, you have access to benefits that will assist you and fraud specialists who can help walk you through each step.
1. Notify credit agencies and establish fraud alerts.
Immediately report your situation to the fraud department of the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. When you notify one, that agency will notify the other two. By placing a fraud alert on your file, your credit file will be “flagged,” which means that creditors are required to take extra caution before extending credit. In most cases this means they will call you to confirm the application is legitimate.
2. Check your credit report.
Review your credit report for signs of theft. Consider freezing your credit reports so that credit issuers cannot access your credit files except when you give permission. This prevents thieves from opening up new credit card and loan accounts.
3. Report the crime to law enforcement.
Tell your local police or sheriff's department about the crime right away. Provide them with as much documented evidence as possible and retain your investigator's contact information for verification when creditors and others ask about your case.
4. Managing credit accounts.
Immediately contact your creditors by telephone and in writing so they are aware of the situation. Request replacement cards with new account numbers immediately.

Your PrivacyGuard Solution: Identity Fraud Support Service®
As a PrivacyGuard member, you will have a dedicated FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) trained caseworker assigned to work with you if you become a victim of identity theft. Your caseworker is FCRA-certified, which means he or she has complete knowledge of how credit grantors, consumers, and the credit reporting agencies interact. Their job is to help you help restore your identity and support you every step of the way with ongoing assistance throughout the recovery process.