Take Steps to Keep Your Identity Safe

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July 13, 2007 LITTLE ROCK Recently, Certegy Check Services, Inc., a national check verification and collection service company, experienced a data breach when an employee stole consumers' personal information, sold that information to a data broker that, in turn, sold the information to direct marketing organizations. According to a letter sent to affected consumers, checking, credit and debit account numbers, as well as customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, and possibly their dates of birth, were sold. It appears that Social Security numbers were not subject to the breach. Certegy is in the process of notifying affected consumers and advising them to take proactive steps to secure their personally identifiable information. While no incidents of identity theft have occurred to date as a result of the breach, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert to help Arkansans, especially those affected by the Certegy breach, detect and report identity theft. Three signs that you may be a victim of identity theft: 1) Your credit card statement contains unfamiliar purchases; 2) You are denied credit for no apparent reason; or3) You receive phone calls or letters about purchases you did not make. If you have experienced any of the above, review your bank and financial activity carefully. Make a list of any fraudulent charges, noting the date and time of the charge and where the charge occurred, to isolate any patterns that may surface. Even if you have not had any warning signs, we recommend that you check your credit report regularly to monitor for evidence of potential identity theft. The law requires that the three major credit reporting agenciesExperian, Equifax and TransUnionprovide you with a free copy of your credit report each year upon request. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to order your free copy. After following the above steps, if you believe you are a victim of identity theft, gather all supporting evidence and file a police report. Remember to place a fraud-alert on your credit report by contacting the credit reporting agencies listed above, and cancel any accounts you believe have been compromised. Finally, you should file a complaint with the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General's Office by calling 501-682-2341 and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 877-438-4338. By filing complaints, you help investigators in Arkansas and across the country track consumers who have unknowingly become victims of identity theft, and once caught, the information you provide helps prosecutors punish the criminals appropriately. For more information, please visit http://www.ArkansasAG.gov/identity_theft.html.