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Protecting Yourself From Identity Thief

Posted by njoachim305 on March 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Article taken from Identity Shield by Legal Shield: Question 1. Do you review all of your account statements each and every month? Your credit card accounts are protected from fraudulent use under a federal law called the Fair Credit Billing Act. Your bank accounts are protected from fraudulent electronic transactions under a federal law called the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Under these laws, if you notice a fraudulent transaction on your credit card or bank account, you should notify the financial institution immediately. If you spot fraudulent transactions and report them within two business days, your loss will be limited to $50, provided the transactions occurred less than 60 days prior. That is one of the main reasons why it is important to review your account statements each month; so that you will be able to report any suspected fraud in a timely manner and take advantage of the protective provisions granted to you under federal law. Question 2. Do you know what is on your credit report? Have you activated your credit monitoring and received your credit report? Under a federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA; consumer reporting agencies defined by the FCRA shall, upon request by the consumer, provide a copy of his or her file once during any 12-month period free of charge. The best way to request your free annual credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion is to log on to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Question 3. Have you received calls or collection letters for debts you've never heard of? In many cases, identity thieves will open new lines of credit and of course skip out on the bill. Eventually, the creditor may enlist the help of a debt collector to recover the funds. Once the debt collector finds your phone number or address, you will be contacted and informed it is your responsibility to pay the debt. Never pay a debt if it is related to identity theft. Consumers have little recourse if they agree to pay a debt that resulted from identity theft. If this has happened to you, call us for guidance. Consumer protection pertaining to debt collection is covered under a federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA. Question 4. Have you ever been denied the ability to file your tax return electronically? Employment fraud and tax fraud are often difficult to detect because they may not affect your personal credit. Someone may have used your personal information, including your Social Security number, to obtain employment, or used your personal information to file a tax return with the IRS to collect a refund. The best way to uncover possible employment fraud is to review your annual Earnings Statement from the Social Security Administration. For tax-related identity theft issues, the IRS has an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) released in April 2009. If you have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution, you may call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490. Question 5. Have your credit card interest rates risen sharply for unknown reasons? Periodically, creditors will conduct account review inquiries into credit files with the three national consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). These types of inquiries are called "soft inquiries" and will NOT lower your credit score or affect your personal credit worthiness. However, if your credit reports have been affected by identity theft, your legitimate creditors may not know you are a victim and assume you are a credit risk. In such a case, your legitimate creditor may raise your interest rate on a revolving line of credit. Question 6. Do you research companies through the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission before starting a new business relationship? Many fraud scams could be avoided each year with a little research. Whether searching for a new mortgage company or a new employer, the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are great places to start your research. Question 7. Have you posted any sensitive personal or financial information to a social networking website? Even if you haven't posted sensitive information on your personal social networking profile, it's always a good idea to remain cautious. Many online communities are accessible to the general public. Be wary of posting pictures or information that would make it easy for someone to find out who you are and where you live. Question 8. Has your personal or financial information ever been lost or stolen with a wallet or purse? If your wallet or purse has been lost or stolen, the first step is to contact your creditors and financial institutions to cancel your credit and debit cards, or to put a stop payment on any checks that may have also been stolen. Quick notification to the organizations you do business with is key. To make these notifications easier, create a list of everything you carry in your wallet or purse along with any customer service phone numbers, and keep the list in a secure location. Many people tend to overlook a movie rental card or even a library card - both of which can be used to perpetrate identity theft. Question 9. Do you have a secure place to store sensitive personal and financial information at home? Sadly, many identity theft crimes are perpetrated by individuals close to the victim. In other words, the victim personally knows the individual who stole their identity. There is usually an excess amount of personal and financial information in our homes. Establish a secure location to store this kind of sensitive information. Question 10. Do you know where to turn if you think you may be at risk for identity theft, or if you suspect you may already be a victim? If you notice ANYTHING that may lead you to believe you are at risk of identity theft, or you suspect you may already be a victim, do not hesitate to call us toll-free at 888-494-8519.

Categories: Business, Law, Money

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