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Reporting ID theft is easy

Dear Readers: Reporting online identity theft is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here are the steps according to the Federal Trade Commission’s program www.IdentityTheft.gov:

1. (A) Call the companies where you know the fraud occurred and ask for their fraud department. They can freeze your account to prevent new charges. (B) Replace your passwords, login IDs and personal identification numbers for these accounts.

2. Place a fraud alert and get your credit reports. To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three major credit bureaus. That company must report the fraud alert to the other two. Here are the three major credit bureaus and how to contact them:

≤ Experian.com/fraudalert, 1-888-397-3742

≤ TransUnion.com/fraud, 1-800-680-7289

≤ Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance, 1-888-766-0008

Ask for a free copy of your credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228, and review it for transactions you don’t recognize.

3. Visit www.IdentityTheft.gov, and report the fraud to the FTC with as many details as you can remember. They will create a plan of action for you. — Heloise

Tech Tuesday

Dear Readers: Many people might think that the safest computer password is a random jumble of letters, numbers and characters, such as: sPwk5$lc*U, for example. Wrong.

This method, besides being impossible to remember, is not the most secure. It’s better, experts agree, to string real words together: HippoHopRecliner, for example.

Does the site demand a number or character as part of the password? No problem. Exclamation points can sub for i’s, and the number 3 for an E. Get creative, but make sure you can remember your password. — Heloise

(Heloise is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. Send a hint to P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or E-Mail: Heloise@Heloise.com.)

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