There is no question that the federal government shutdown has an impact on every American. As a result of the government shutdown, services and federally funded programs including national monuments, immigration and even the IRS are suspended.
One lesser-known impact is the temporary closure of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Do Not Call Registry. Both entities work to protect consumers from a range of dangers including identity theft. Now that they are unavailable to you , we’ve listed the top questions you might be asking yourself.
What does the FTC do? The FTC is the federal agency in charge of protecting consumer rights. In the event you’re a victim of identity theft, you obtain an Identity Theft Report from the FTC. But, as part of the government shutdown, the FTC is closed, halting the process for submitting the report.
The Do Not Call Registry was established by the FTC in late 2003 to give consumers the right to limit solicitation calls received on their private phone lines. Filing a complaint against solicitors with the FTC is suspended until the government shutdown is over.
How can I protect myself during the government shutdown? The unfortunate reality is that identity thieves could use this time to benefit from the fact that you can’t file a complaint with the FTC or be protected by the National Do Not Call Registry. Avoid putting your identity at risk by being cautious of any calls, emails or other communications asking for personal or financial information. Your personal information doesn’t have to be at risk if you follow these smart and simple rules to help protect your identity.
What do I do if I find out I’m a victim? Even though the FTC is closed, there are still steps you can take if you think you’re the victim of identity theft or fraud. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus and request a copy of your credit report from each. Review your credit report from each of the bureaus carefully for suspicious activity, including any unrecognizable accounts listed on your report. Keep a detailed list of calls and correspondence so that when the FTC reopens, you’ll have all the necessary information readily available to file a claim.
Whether the government shutdown lasts a week or a month, consumers should understand how it can impact their personal lives. Learning how to prevent identity theft is one of the first steps toward establishing positive credit habits and a more stable financial future.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
Published by permission from ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. © 2013 ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. All rights reserved.