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How first responders can protect themselves from identity theft

Risk management expert and Lexipol co-founder Gordon Graham offers action steps for after a theft has occurred and how to prevent one in the future

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is about identity theft.

If you’re like me, you’ve received at least one letter about a data breach that resulted in your personal information being compromised. You were probably enrolled in a credit monitoring service by whatever company was breached. However, what if you’re not? What do you do if you lose your wallet or your credit card?

How will you know if someone is using your identity? You may notice strange charges on your credit card or unexplained withdrawals from your bank account. There may be unknown claims submitted to your medical insurance. The IRS may notify you that more than one tax return was filed in your name. You may stop getting your bills or start receiving bills that aren’t yours.

Now what? Act quickly to minimize the damage. Begin by calling your credit card, bank, medical insurance, the IRS, and other entities where the fraud occurred. Place a free fraud alert on your credit report. Get a copy of your report. Contact the FTC to report identity theft. And don’t forget to file a report with the police.

What else can you do if you are still feeling vulnerable? If you’re not already enrolled in a credit monitoring service, you may want to do so. You could also contact the three credit bureaus and request a credit freeze. This service will alert you any time a new loan or credit card account is opened in your name.

If you get overwhelmed or need assistance, consider an identity recovery service. They will guide you through the process of reclaiming your identity.

Prevent identity theft. Be diligent. Remain diligent. Review your credit card statements thoroughly. Know your payment due dates. Choose credit over debit for purchases. Do not use public WiFi to shop online. Read your health insurance claims. Shred all personal and financial documents. And keep your travel plans to yourself.

Most importantly, request and review each of your three credit bureau reports at least once a year. Take the time to be proactive in protecting your identity. It sure beats the alternative!

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.