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Being alert to ID theft helps limit its damage

Data breaches, like the one that hit 106 million of Capital One’s credit card customers and applicants, sometimes spawn spin-off scams.

Beware of emails and phone calls pretending to be from Capital One or the government. Neither will contact people by email or phone seeking Social Security numbers and credit card or account information.

Capital One has posted details about the breach at It also has said it will notify those affected and offer free credit monitoring and identity protection services.

Security experts advise that even if you weren’t affected, it’s always good to make use of a free credit report available once a year. To request, use the central website shared by all three major reporting companies — — or call 1-877-322-8228.

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Identity theft is among the top types of fraud reported to the federal government, amounting to 1.4 million reports and total losses of nearly $1.5 billion in 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

You’d think it would be easy to know if you’re a possible victim – your purse gets stolen or you leave your credit card at the store. But with so many data breaches exposing personal information, it’s not always immediately clear that the thieves have made off with yours.

Here’s a list of signs that you have become the latest victim, courtesy of Experian and the Federal Trade Commission:

• You get notice that your personal information was compomrised in a breach.

• You’re not receiving bills or other mail. This might mean someone has taken over your account and changed your billing address. Take the initiative and call your creditors if you’re not being charged according to the usual schedule.

• You’re rejected for credit for no apparent reason.

• Merchants start refusing your checks.

• Your bank account, brokerage account, credit card account or other accounts have unauthorized transactions.

• Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.

• Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.

• A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.

• The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.

• Your electronically filed tax return is rejected, even though there is nothing wrong with your filing, such as an incorrect Social Security number. This could mean an imposter filed a return in your name and claimed your refund.

If your identity has been stolen, there is free help to get started on repairing the damage at

Contact Ellen Marks at or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.

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