California ruling sets off credit fraud concerns

Due to a recent court ruling in California, the state's highest judicial body unanimously ruled that retailers can no longer store the ZIP code information of customers.

Traditionally, this information was collected in large databases and used for marketing purposes. However, consumers in others states may still be vulnerable to identity theft because of this ongoing practice by businesses.

Recent research has found large databases of consumer information, such as those commonly kept in hotels, retail outlets and restaurants, have been a prime target for credit crooks. These criminals then use this information to track down personal information such as bank account or credit card numbers. As a result, consumers could find they have accumulated a number of unauthorized purchases on their credit reports and may need credit help clearing up these mistakes.

Consumers who think their account has been compromised by credit fraud or identity theft should check their reports for fraudulent information, as these documents will typically show signs of unauthorized purchases. By examining their credit reports, consumers can check for signs of credit fraud and contact a credit repair company with this information.

Individuals may also be able to enroll in protection programs offered through their credit card companies. These services can provide email or text messaging updates if a purchase is made outside areas where the cardholder usually shops.