Imagine that you are taking a fun and exciting vacation in Hawaii. Everything
is going good and memories have been made to last for a lifetime.
One year later you apply for a credit card to get a lower interest rate. Knowing you have good credit you never thought about being rejected, but you ARE. With a response saying, “Too many delinquent accounts are present.” Shocked, you request a copy of your credit report and that is when you find out you have become a victim of identity theft.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says it takes, on average, 12 months for a victim of identity theft to notice the crime. The other sad thing is that it now becomes the burden of the victim to prove that they are innocent. The average cost to the victim is at $1,400 in expenses and $16,000 in lost wages when dealing with the crime of their identity being stolen.
The above scenario actually happened. The man’s name is Gary. What happened is that an emergency ID card, that was stored in his luggage, was stolen by a hotel cleaner. Just with the vague information on this card that had his name, address, blood type, and date of birth, was enough to steal his identity.
It took just over 18 months to fix the damage. During this time he was unable to obtain new credit because of all that was going on.
To avoid this from happening to you try some of the following:
- Never leave anything accessible that may have important information about yourself or your accounts. Shred all old bills and statements.
- Keep all credit cards and identification cards safe and secure.
- Never give out information over the phone, fax, or internet if you do not know who you are dealing with.
- Never give out personal information if someone calls you saying they are from your bank or credit card company. Take their name and extension then call them back using the number from your statements.
You can never be too careful. To help fight against identity or credit
theft, monitor your credit files to see if there are any changes or charges
not made or authorized by you. There are services that offer to do this
around the clock but they cost anywhere from $80 to a couple of hundred
dollars a year.
One option, if you believe you have become a possible victim of identity theft, is to contact the credit bureaus and have them setup a fraud alert on your credit report. This makes it so that if someone tries to obtain credit using your information at an establishment, the establishment must call a number to verify the identity of the person requesting credit. This phone number will be the one that you give the credit bureaus.
For Fraud Alerts, call:
800-525-6285 and write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
For Fraud Alerts, call:
888-397-3742 and write:
P.O. Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union -
For Fraud Alerts, call:
800-680-7289 and write:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division,
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
Another scam that has gotten out of control according to the FTC is that a telephone scam artist will call you up and use a scare type tactic saying things about computer hackers accessing your account or that the law has changed and you are now liable for all unauthorized charges to your accounts.
These scam artists will convince you by taking advantage of your fear, lack of knowledge, and uncertainty to convince you to buy some sort of credit loss protection insurance.
Do not fall for this scam. According to the FTC; you can only be held liable for up to $50 for unauthorized credit card charges per credit card account.
You must notify both your credit card company and file a police report for such losses. Be sure to read your credit card agreements for other protections that they may offer.
In short, it is a good idea to monitor your credit files on a regular basis. This is one reason the FTC has allowed people to obtain a free credit report once a year from each of the credit bureaus.
Review your files carefully and call the credit bureau if you have any questions about something on your file or instructions on how to read the file. Never be ashamed if you have been victimized, you are not the only one, just make sure to report it!
Pioneer Credit Counseling is a bonded, non-profit credit counseling agency offering debt management programs, financial counseling, bankruptcy counseling and housing counseling nationwide. Call our friendly counselors today at 800-888-1596 or visit www.pioneercredit.com.
Our accredited credit counselors will help you take control of your financial life and get out of debt faster than you can on your own. We offer a debt management program that will stop the collections calls, lower your monthly payment and provide you peace of mind. Our pre and post bankruptcy counselors provide an easy process for you so you can focus on rebuilding your financial being.
It is our policy at Pioneer Credit Counseling not only to help people get out of debt, but also educate in sound budgeting practices.
Pioneer Credit Counseling can help you get out of debt faster. Find out how through one of our Debt Management | Debt Management Programs | Credit Counseling | Financial Counseling | Housing Counseling | Bankruptcy Counseling | Financial Educational Materials
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