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5 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft in Michigan

A consumer law attorney gives his tips

In 2005, more than 9 million people reported being victims of identity theft. Thieves obtain personal data by stealing wallets or purses, going through trash and monitoring online purchases. Once they discover your Social Security number, those thieves are able to open lines of credit or make purchases in your name. Worse, victims often don’t know identity thieves have absconded with their identity until a real estate deal falls through or a job opportunity is denied due to a derogatory credit report.

Southfield attorney Ian Lyngklip of Lyngklip & Taub Consumer Law Group and author of Top 5 Mistakes of General Practitioners in Handling Identity Thefts and Credit Reporting Disputes, suggests the following to protect your identity:

  1. Give your Social Security number only to those who really need it—such as an employer.
  2. Order a copy of your credit report yearly from all three major consumer credit agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Check for accuracy.
  3. Reject “pre-approved” credit-card applications.
  4. Send letters to a collection agency by certified mail, keep a copy and request a return receipt.
  5. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, hire an attorney who truly understands identity-theft issues. “It’s a highly specialized area, and the attorney has to be familiar with the process and regulations,” says Lyngklip.

For more information on this area of law, see our overview of consumer law.

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