Attorney General urges Texans to protect their personal identifying information

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today urged Texans to learn more about identity theft prevention - and use that knowledge to avoid becoming victims of identity theft. This week has been designated as National Protect Your Identity Week.

Identity theft occurs when a criminal illegally uses another person's personally identifying information, including names, addresses, driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other financial information to commit fraud or other crimes. Victims may miss job opportunities, or be denied loans for housing, education or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. Texas ranks second in the nation for incidences of the crime, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

"Identity theft continues to be one of the most pervasive and costly white-collar crimes in the country," Attorney General Abbott said. "The Office of the Attorney General is committed to aggressively enforcing identity theft prevention laws. Texans should shred unwanted documents that contain their personal information and take other steps to prevent sensitive account numbers from falling into the hands of identity thieves."

To help prevent identity theft, the OAG established a Web site,, devoted to providing Texans information they need to protect themselves from this crime. This Web site has video testimonials of actual victims depicting their struggles to restore their good names.

This recently launched Web site also has an Identity Theft Victim's Kit which offers a step-by-step checklist for victims to use to prevent further damage. Confirmed identity theft victims should immediately close all bank, credit, utility and service accounts. Victims should contact one of the major credit bureaus and place fraud alerts or security freezes on their credit reports. This will prevent new accounts from being fraudulently opened under the victims' name.