ThriftyFun News - April 8, 2005 - Identity Theft


ThriftyFun News
Identity Theft

Volume Seven, Number 15 April 8, 2005
http://www.ThriftyFun.com

Hello,

This week's issue is about preventing identity theft. I hope you find this information useful.

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Thanks for reading,

Susan

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This newsletter contains:

  • Identity Theft Story
  • Credit Card Fraud Prevention
  • Prevent Identity Theft
  • Watch Your Receipts and Your Bank Account
  • ID Theft, What fun!
  • What To Do If Your Personal Information Has Been Compromised
  • When should I provide my Social Security number?
  • How can I prevent identity theft from happening to me?

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Identity Theft


Identity Theft Story

My friend had her purse stolen. She had parked her car in an out of the way place in a local state park's parking lot. The park recreational area was situated a long way from the parking lot and by parking it where she did in the large parking lot, there were few cars nearby. She did this to prevent someone from crashing into her nice little Miata. She then left her purse in the car, under the seat. She had her car locked and her keys with her.

The thief broke a window, got into the car and found her purse. In her purse was about $40, her credit cards, driver's license, and Social Security Card. She had used her birth month and day as her pin number for her debit card so basically they had everything they needed to ruin her credit.

It has taken years to refute all of the phony bank accounts, bad checks, loans, plane tickets, etc. that the thieves were able to use with her information.

As soon as she saw the car had been broken in to she called the police from her cell phone, then drove home and notified her credit card company, bank and everyone she could think of.

What is important about this is with the loss your driver's license number and social security number, your identity belongs to whoever stole it. Be careful who you give this information to and make sure that you always keep those two cards in different places.

Susan from ThriftyFun

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Credit Card Fraud Prevention

Remove any credit cards from your wallet that you do not use on a regular, consistent basis, and store them in a safe location. Or, if this is not an option, check your wallet often to ensure all your credit cards are accounted for. I mention this tip because I recently heard of an acquaintance who had a credit card stolen from her purse at her workplace. She did not know the card was missing from her wallet because she had literally not used the card herself in several years, and she did not regularly check her wallet to account for all her cards.

Consequently, several days went by and the woman received a call from her credit card company inquiring about her account because there was "an unusual amount of activity" on the account, which was not normal for this particular account's history. It was at this point that the woman, after checking her wallet, realized that the card was gone.

Unfortunately, since she did not report her card lost or stolen within a 24 to 48 hour period, the credit card company intended to hold her liable for any charges on this account, which amounted to thousands of dollars by the time the woman realized the card was gone. I never did find out if the credit card company followed through with making the woman pay the charges, but I do know that if you report a credit card lost or stolen within the stated acceptable time frame the card company permits (usually 24 to 48 hours), the credit card company can charge you for the first $50.00 in fraudulent charges, but they usually waive this completely.

It all boils down to your quick response as the card holder! And yes, this is a true story!

Tori

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Prevent Identity Theft

Help yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft: Do
not keep anything in your wallet/purse with your Social Security number on it. This includes your Social Security card, old Medicare cards, or your group health insurance card. The newest Medicare cards only contain the last 4 digits of your SS number.

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Watch Your Receipts and Your Bank Account

I hired a mechanic through a friend at work. I thought he was a little "odd" but the price was right so I asked him to put brakes on my Jeep. As soon as he had my vehicle he searched it and found my debit card receipts in the console. I kept them in there, never reading them, not paying attention to the fact that many of them had my full account number and exp. date printed on them.

The day after he fixed my Jeep, charges for 900 numbers (adult oriented) showed up on my checking account. Hubby and I were working feverishly on our yard at the time, so we just thought we were spending A LOT of money at the Garden Center. That's what I get for not paying closer attention to our money I guess.

By the time this jerk was caught, he had spent $1400 cash out of our account, and opened up 2 other accounts in my husband's name for a 900 number company in California. It has taken me since June 2004 to get this all straighted out and his hearing is June 9th of this year.

The DA has told us he probably won't even serve time for this, even though the total was in excess of $4000. We did get all of our money back in the end, but I get porn mail all the time and it has been so much aggravation dealing with these disreputable companies. Please watch what you do with receipts. I never dreamed someone would do this to us.

By Sandy from Pittsburgh

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ID Theft, What fun!

I have been there and I am still digging out of it. What your not hearing anywhere is the person who took your ID may be as close as a near relative.

1. Check your credit

2. Call the Social Security Administration and let them know. Have your named flagged with everyone.

3. Banks and stores, anywhere you might have credit, pay off credit cards cut them up DON'T get any more until you clear your name, these places sell your information.

4. Go to as many as you can free search engines look for yourself. Why? Because you might be as lucky as I was, I found myself living in nine places. 3 of thoses places was where a sister in law had been and the last one she was still living there. A quick call to the attorney found she was scamming one of my sons and others as well. She was not the only one with my ID she passed it to her friends too.

By Roberta

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What To Do If Your Personal Information Has Been Compromised

What To Do If Your Personal Information Has Been Compromised Companies or institutions that keep personal information about you have an obligation to safeguard it. Still, from time to time, the personal information they hold may be accidentally disclosed or deliberately stolen. If your information falls into the wrong hands, it may be misused to commit fraud against you.

If you get a notice that your personal information may have been compromised, taking certain steps quickly can minimize the potential for the theft of your identity.

If the stolen information includes your financial accounts, close compromised credit card accounts immediately. Consult with your financial institution about whether to close bank or brokerage accounts immediately or first change your passwords and have the institution monitor for possible fraud. Place passwords on any new accounts that you open. Avoid using your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN) or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.

If the stolen information includes your Social Security number, call the toll-free fraud number of any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies and place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports. This alert can help stop someone from opening new credit accounts in your name.

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days. When you place this alert on your credit report with one nationwide consumer reporting company, you'll get information about ordering one free credit report from each of the companies. It's prudent to wait about a month after your information was stolen before you order your report. That's because suspicious activity may not show up right away. Once you get your reports, review them for suspicious activity, like inquiries from companies you didn't contact, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information - like your SSN, address(es), name or initials, and employers - is correct.

If the stolen information includes your driver's license or other government-issued identification, contact the agencies that issued the documents and follow their procedures to cancel a document and get a replacement. Ask the agency to "flag" your file to keep anyone else from getting a license or another identification document in your name.

Once you've taken these precautions, watch for signs that your information is being misused. For example, you may not get certain bills or other mail on time. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks. Other signs include:

  • receiving credit cards that you didn't apply for;
  • being denied credit, or being offered less favorable credit terms, like a high interest rate, for no apparent reason; and
  • getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you didn't buy.

Continue to read your financial account statements promptly and carefully, and to monitor your credit reports every few months in the first year of the theft, and once a year thereafter. For more information on getting your credit reports free once a year or buying additional reports, read Your Access to Free Credit Reports at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm.

If your information has been misused, file a report about your identity theft with the police, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/. Read Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft for detailed information on other steps to take in the wake of identity theft.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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When should I provide my Social Security number?

Your employer and financial institution will likely need your SSN for wage and tax reporting purposes. Other businesses may ask you for your SSN to do a credit check, like when you apply for a car loan. Sometimes, however, they simply want your SSN for general record keeping. If someone asks for your SSN, ask the following questions:

  • Why do you need it?
  • How will it be used?
  • How do you protect it from being stolen?
  • What will happen if I don't give it to you?

If you don't provide your SSN, some businesses may not provide you with the service or benefit you want. Getting satisfactory answers to your questions, though, will help you to decide whether you want to share your SSN with the business.

Source: www.consumer.gov

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How can I prevent identity theft from happening to me?

As with any crime, you can't guarantee that you will never be a victim, but you can minimize your risk. By managing your personal information widely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft.


  • Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs) and even government agencies to get you to reveal your SSN, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information. Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. Check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it. Many companies post scam alerts when their name is used improperly. Or call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book.

  • Don't carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.

  • Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.

  • Guard your mail and trash from theft:


    • Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.

    • To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail. If you do not use the pre-screened credit card offers you receive in the mail, you can opt out by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567- 8688). Please note that you will be asked for your Social Security number in order for the credit bureaus to identify your file so that they can remove you from their lists and you still may receive some credit offers because some companies use different lists from the credit bureaus' lists. For more information, see How can I prevent companies from using my personal information for marketing?


  • Carry only the identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you'll actually need.

  • Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Use a password instead.

  • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect personally identifying information from you. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask if you can keep your information confidential.
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  • Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your SSN as your account number.

  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.

  • Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.

  • Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work as well as any copies you may keep of administrative forms that contain your sensitive personal information.

  • When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank, rather than having them sent to your home mailbox.

  • If you're being deployed in the military, place an active duty alert. See What"s an active duty alert?


Source: www.consumer.gov

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