It’s the end of the year, time to take stock and inventory. Here are some resources to help with scams and identity theft.
I’ve mentioned some of the resources before and will mention others in upcoming months. I hope having them in one place will make it easier for you to get information on how to protect yourself from scammers. Send this to your friends and family so they have a handy list, too.
• To file general complaints to the Federal Trade Commission and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, call 877-382-4357 (877-FTC-HELP) or go to ftc.gov/complaint. If you remember nothing else, these contacts will get you where you need to go.
• Unwanted calls are a big problem. Learn about how to reduce the number of unwanted sales calls you get by visiting ftc.gov/calls. Register your phone number for the Do Not Call Registry, or file a complaint about live calls or robocalls by calling 888-382-1222 from the phone number you’re signing up or visit DoNotCall.gov.
• For general consumer protection advice, visit consumer.ftc.gov.
• For consumer protection basics, visit consumer.gov.
• Order almost limitless free consumer publications at ftc.gov/bulkorder.
• Protecting your credit with a credit freeze has never been easier and it’s free. To freeze or unfreeze your credit at no cost, use the following contact information for each credit bureau: Equifax: 800-685-1111 or equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services; Experian: 888-397-3742 or experian.com/help; or TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or transunion.com/credit-help.
• Annually check your credit reports for free by calling 877-322-8228, visiting annualcreditreport.com or writing to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
• If you fear you’re a data breach victim, visit identitytheft.gov/databreach.
• There are a number of identity theft resources. For tips on how to protect yourself, call 877-438-4338 (877-ID-THEFT) or visit ftc.gov/identitytheft. To file a complaint, call 877-438-4338 (877-ID-THEFT) or go to identitytheft.gov. If you think you’re a victim of tax identity theft, call 800-908-4490 or visit irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft.
• Before sharing Medicare-related information, call Medicare 800-633-4227 (800-MEDICARE).
• Military members and their families should check out military.consumer.gov.
As always, the views expressed in this column are my own and not the official positions of the FTC or any of its commissioners.
Jon Miller Steiger is the East Central region director of the Federal Trade Commission in Cleveland.