For Immediate Release
September 12, 2008
Senior Assistant Attorney General Lauren J. Noether
In light of continuing concerns relating to a recent security breach at Countrywide Bank, FSB, New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte recommends that consumers who have applied for mortgages or declined mortgage offers from a lender take steps to ensure that their personal credit profiles are not vulnerable to unauthorized use. Last month, the FBI arrested a former Countrywide employee for the theft and sale of up to 2 million customer profiles that included Social Security numbers and other sensitive data.
Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte stated, "Consumers should always carefully check each credit card statement for unauthorized charges. In addition, a consumer who suspects that personal data shared with a mortgage lender has been compromised should obtain a free credit report and investigate any transactions that appear to be suspicious."
A consumer concerned about the potential misuse of private information may also wish to place a temporary "security freeze" on his or her credit file while verifying that this information is secure. A security freeze prevents a consumer's personal data, including Social Security number, from being shared with potential creditors and makes it extremely difficult for an unauthorized party to establish credit in that customer's name. A security freeze can help prevent identity theft since most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumer's credit history. The New Hampshire security freeze legislation became effective January 1, 2007. "Placing a security freeze is free to victims of identity theft who have a copy of a police report and I would urge individuals who have been victimized to take advantage of this," said Ayotte.
For further information on placing a security freeze, visit the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Web site. More general information on identity theft is available by going to www.doj.nh.gov/consumer and clicking on the Identity Theft Toolkit icon, or by calling the Attorney General's consumer protection hotline toll free at 1-888-468-4454.
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301