Stolen Identity can be devastating to someone’s credit and many times very difficult to repair. If you became a victim it would be nearly impossible to qualify for a mortgage or any other type of credit. Identity theft is a growing problem. However, there are many things that we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones. This week I want to share with you a few valuable tips on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim as well as what to do if your identity is stolen.
1 - CHECK AND DOUBLE-CHECK.
Credit card fraud is the most common type of identity theft, making it especially important to review your statements each month and look for any unauthorized charges. If an identity thief has your account information, he or she can call the company and have them redirect the bill to a different address. So if your statement is late or never arrives, call the company.
2 - PROTECT YOUR PASSWORDS.
Use a combination of numbers, capital letters and lowercase letters when creating passwords for your computer, e-mail and Internet accounts. Never use an obvious password such as your maiden name or birth date.
3 - DESTROY THE EVIDENCE.
Before you dispose of sensitive documents including bills, credit card receipts or pre-approved credit card offers, give them a good shredding. Pulling these sensitive materials out of the trash is a favorite ploy of identity thieves.
4 - PURGE YOUR WALLET.
Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet—store it in a safe location instead. Do the same with any unnecessary credit cards or ID cards.
5 - SAFEGUARD YOUR MAIL.
Don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox—it’s easy for thieves to swipe it and pull bank numbers from checks or personal information from bills. Use post office drop boxes instead.
6 - BE SMART
Unless you have initiated the contact, never give out your personal information over e-mail, the internet or the phone. Identity thieves often pose as government officials, bank representatives or credit card companies in the hope that you will provide them with your personal information.
7 – BE CAREFUL WHICH COMPANIES YOU CHOOSE TO WORK WITH.
Many companies that handle sensitive information process their approvals in other countries. Many popular title and mortgage companies process their files in other countries. Ask the right questions to your agents and loan officers. Before you choose to use their services, ask them if your information will be handled confidentially and not sent out of the country.
If your purse or wallet has been stolen, you need to act fast. It is important to report it missing within 15 minutes.
Read below for other steps you need to take when your wallet has gone missing.
1 Call your bank and credit card companies. Tell the representative that your card is missing, report what time you noticed it was missing and if you can, state the last time it was used and the last purchase made.
2 Notify your local DMV. To get a replacement driver’s license, you’ll need to provide the office with documentation that proves your identity, such as a birth certificate or passport.
3 File a police report. This helps add validity to your story. Keep a copy of the report in case unauthorized charges show up on your account.
4 If your passport is missing, report it to the U.S. Department of State immediately at 1-877-487-2778.
If your Social Security card is missing, contact the police and the office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271.
5 The 2007 Javelin Strategy & Research study reveals that victims of identity theft are spending less time to resolve identity fraud cases, decreasing from 40 hours in 2006 to 25 hours in 2007.
What’s your ID worth?
Stolen identities are peddled on the Internet for about $100 each
Use this resource: www.idtheft.gov
Here are a few more tips if you are ever victimized, act fast!
1. Call the police.
A police report will come in handy if your bank or credit card company asks for proof of the crime.
2. Report it
Contact the three major credit bureaus listed below, and ask them to place a “security alert” on your file. This alert states that you are a victim of fraud and that any company accessing your report should verify your identification before granting credit.
3. Close accounts.
Contact the security departments of your creditors or financial institutions where accounts have been opened without your permission.
4. File a complaint.
Notify the Federal Trade Commission that you have been a victim of identity theft. Their phone number is 1-877-438-4338.
5. Keep an eye on your accounts.
Watch for future misuse and file reports if you find any further unauthorized transactions.
To learn more about consumer credit report agencies call these numbers.
1-888-397-3742 If you have mortgage questions visit our website
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374