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State gives consumers tips to combat identity theft

Library presentation

Identity theft and fraud is a concern for many Americans but Melissa Miller of the Indiana Attorney General's office says there are safeguards that can help ease troubled minds.

Miller spoke at the Rensselaer Library on June 2, sharing tips and information with patrons.

She stressed those who think their identity or personal accounts may have been compromised should call the IAG's Consumer Protection Services division ( at 1-800-382-5516.

The office exists to help consumers with fraud, scams and identity theft, as well as consumer complaints.

Before you get to that stage, however, regular checks on your credit report and simple routine habits can help keep your information safe from interference.

Checking your credit report annually is free, and can be accessed at or by calling 1-877-322-8228. You can either request reports from all three nationwide credit reporting companies at once, or stagger your requests so that you are getting a report every four months.

Some other steps include:

  • Shredding documents that show personal, financial and medical information before throwing them away.
  • Using anti-virus and anti-spyware and keeping your computer software updated.
  • Creating strong passwords that mix letters, numbers and symbols and not using the same password for more than one account.
  • Learning to recognize secure websites (the s in https stands for "secure") and don't share personal or financial information on websites that are not secure.
  • Never responding to email, text and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies do not ask for information this way.
  • Reading your bank, credit card and account statements regularly and contacting the businesses if the statements are late or contain mistakes.

There is also a step people can take to protect their credit accounts, or the credit record of a child, known as a credit freeze or security freeze.

This step prevents anyone from opening a new credit account or obtaining credit in your name, even if the identity thief has other identifying information that might otherwise give them access.

Miller said any Indiana resident can request a security freeze, and there is no fee for Indiana residents to place, temporarily lift or remove a freeze, or to request a new password or PIN for their account. For more information on how to set up a freeze, or for other helpful guides and tips, visit

Photo: Melissa Miller of the Indiana Attorney General's Office, seated left, speaks with patrons at the Rensselaer Library June 2, 2015.