Financial Planning Information
Wallet/Purse Loss & Identity Theft
Your credit information is used for your credit scores which affects:
- premiums for your life, auto
and home insurance.
- the rate you pay for an apartment.
- if you are hired for a new job.
- and more every day.
It may be one of the most important things you need to safeguard in the future.Actions To Take To Safeguard Yourself From Identity Theft:
- Do not ever carry a social security card with you.
- Do not carry credit cards/check books with you unless you plan on using them. Do not have your Social Security number on your checks.
- Always ask yourself if you really need to be giving out your social security number when asked for it. There are many cases where there is no real reason for places to request this information.
- Annually, get your Credit Reports from all three credit bureaus (better yet, quarterly check one of the credit bureaus). Free Annual reports are available for the Northeast part of the U.S. starting Sept. 1, 2005. Call 877-322-8228 or get them immediately by going on-line at www.annualcreditreport.com Review your credit report and make sure that you close accounts that are not really being used.
Note: Keeping the oldest and/or largest accounts may help your Credit Score.
Most frequent errors include:
- Inaccurate personal information, such as name, middle initial, generational designation, Social Security number and address.
- Accounts incorrectly listed as open, delinquent or in collections.
- Accounts that do not belong to you.
- Bankruptcies, tax liens or other judgments that do not belong to you.
If you find an error write the offending credit bureau and request they fix the problem(s). The complaint process is documented on the credit report. In about a month, ask for another report (free if there is an error) to see if the error was fixed.
What to do if your Identity is Stolen
- Photocopy the contents of your wallet. This will make the loss of your wallet easier to recover from. Make sure that you copy both sides of your credit cards and drivers license. This will give you the toll free numbers and make your credit card numbers readily accessible so that you can take immediate action. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Also, carry a photocopy of your passport when traveling either here or abroad. We have all heard horror stories about fraud that is committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, and credit cards. Carry a copy of this on trips.
- When you check out of a hotel that uses cards for keys (and they all seem to do that now), do not turn the "keys" in. Take them with you and destroy them. Those little cards have on them all of the information you gave the hotel, including address and credit card numbers and expiration dates. Someone with a card reader, or employee of the hotel, can access all that information with no problem whatsoever.
- Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED."
- Make sure that you have a mailbox that locks to try to eliminate mail theft and also retrieve mail as soon as you can after it is delivered.
- Watch the people that you give your credit cards to carefully (such as waitresses/waiters). Never give the card to them and let them out of your sight. All that the person would need to do is write down the account number and expiration date to use the card.
- Shred anything you are throwing away that contains personal information.
- When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check-processing channels will not have access to it.
- Do not put your driver's license number or social security number on checks. You can add these things if necessary, but if you have it printed then anyone can get it. Also, you should get your initials printed on the check instead of your first name. This way, if someone takes your checks they will not know what to sign the check as, but the bank will know how you sign your checks.
- Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address.
- When using credit cards on-line to buy an item, look for the pad lock in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. These are secure websites, where no one can access your information. These are characterized by HTTPS://
- Be aware of scams through email. There is a technique called "phishing" where people use known logos (ex. AOL) and write a legitimate looking email which ask for personal information. The email says that there was a problem with your account and it creates a sense of urgency. When you click on the link in the email, it redirects you to a website that is there one second and gone the next. Now the identity thieves have your personal information.
- We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. The key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
- Call all three credit-reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number. This alert means that any company that checks your credit knows that your information was stolen and that they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
The numbers to the credit reporting agencies are:
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
- File police Report immediately. If local police will not do anything then try the State Police or Sheriff's Department. * Make sure that you ask for a copy of the police report so that you can verify that the police made one and so you can send it to creditors/agencies to show that you are actually a fraud victim.
- Keep records of all your correspondence. Make sure you keep a detailed record of all the money that you spent.
-If the theft is mail theft you need to contact:
US Postal Office
200 Washington Avenue
Endicott, NY 13760
-All correspondence should be sent certified mail with return receipt request.
-Always contact Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Federal Trade Commissions:
|Department of Motor Vehicles|
124 Washington Ave.
Endicott, NY 13760
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20535
|Social Security Administration|
15 Henry St.
Binghamton, NY 13901
Federal Trade Commissions
600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20580
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