What to do when you are a victim of identity theft. By: Captain Dan Papajcik Identity theft occurs when a criminal uses another person's personal information to take on that person's identity. Identity theft is much more than misuse of a Social Security number-it can also include credit card and mail fraud. You should regularly check your credit report to ensure there are no unauthorized credit cards or accounts opened in your name. Federal law permits you to request a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You may request your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. If you find unauthorized credit accounts, you are likely the victim of identity theft. If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report what happened via their website (www.ftc.gov). You can call the FTC's ID Theft Hotline-1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or use the FTC's online ID Theft Complaint form. The FTC provides valuable up-to-date resources about how to work with credit bureaus and law enforcement agencies to reclaim your identity. You should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a replacement card if your Social Security card was lost or stolen, to request a new Social Security number in certain circumstances, and if you need help to correct your earnings records. Contact the Office of the Inspector General, SSA, to report Social Security number misuse that involves buying or selling Social Security cards, or may involve people with links to terrorist groups or activities. The SSA can be reached through their website (www.ssa.gov) or via phone (800-772-1213). The Legal Assistance Office website provides a number of useful links and information on Identity Theft under the Consumer Protection section (www.redstone.army.mil/legal/lao.html). Additionally, information is available at our office, Building 111, Goss Rd. If you think you are a victim and you are an eligible client, please make an appointment with our office by calling 876-9005. The most important step in protecting yourself against the results of identity theft is to report the theft early.