A friend of mine told me recently her credit card company had contacted her because her card activity was erratic. Her card went on a shopping spree while she was home working in her garden …. AND her card was still in her purse. Her card number was “hacked”.
FORETUNEATELY her card company called her within an hour or two after the first charge so no more charges could be added to her card.
However, IF the card company didn’t call and IF you don’t monitor your credit card statement monthly, this could be devastating to your finances and credit scores.
Here are some other ways consumers have found out their identity or cards have been stolen:
Self-monitoring accounts – 26%
Received bill – 18%
Company notification 15%
Paid service credit monitoring – 11%
Debt collection – 9%
Applied for job or credit – 5%
Review of credit report – 6%
To make sure you’re on top of things, the IRS has some tips to save the agony of becoming a victim of this sort of crime.
- Stolen purse or wallet is quite obvious, but you can also have your information stolen by logging on an unsecured internet site. Your trash can also be a treasure trove of information, if you don’t shred or dispose of sensitive papers correctly. Another way is by phishing via email or phone calls. NEVER give any credit card or personal information when an email or person asks for it. The best thing to do is to call or contact the company personally with the company’s contact information you already have to make sure it is legit information being requested.
- The IRS never never ever initiates contact by email and if you do, the IRS asks to have the email forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. Or call 1-800-366-4484.
- If you receive a letter from the IRS leading you to believe your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address or phone number on the IRS notice or call 1-800-366-4484.
- Your identity may be stolen if a letter from the IRS indicates more than one tax return was filed for you or the letter states you received wages from an employer you don’t know.
- If your Social Security number is stolen, it may be used by another individual to get a job. That person’s employer would report income earned to the IRS using your Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document(s) with your SSN on it.
- Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Protect our financial information. Shred / cross shred your documents or have them professionally disposed of – and then get the certificate your information has been properly disposed of.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal and business computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches, and change passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal or business information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
- Freeze your credit.
Utah(security freeze rights established by state law)
Eligibility: All consumers
Fees: Utah’s law allows credit bureaus to charge “reasonable fees,” without specifying the amount that can be charged.
Note: Consumers will be able to temporarily lift or “thaw” the freeze within 15 minutes of electronic request
Effective date of law: September 1, 2008
Permanent freeze remains until removal requested by consumer.
Copy of Utah’s security freeze law
Instructions for using Utah’s security freeze law
According to Utah Law, “Any consumer in Utah may place a security freeze on his or her credit report by sending a written request by certified mail to each consumer reporting agency. A security freeze prohibits, with certain specific exceptions, the consumer reporting agency from releasing the consumer’s credit report or any information from it without the express authorization of the consumer. Consumers must pay a “reasonable fee” to each consumer reporting agency for placing, temporarily lifting a freeze, or removing a security freeze. Since the consumer reporting agencies charge $10 under their voluntary program for the security freeze, a reasonable fee should not be higher than $10. The consumer reporting agency is not allowed to charge a fee to identity theft victims for placing, temporarily removing, or removing a security freeze on a credit report. To avoid paying a fee, victims must send a valid copy of a police report or provide the police docket number that for the identity fraud. This law takes effect September 1, 2008.”
This means that even if someone has your social security number, address, name and even your dog’s name, the freeze will stop them from opening credit in your name.
This link tells you exactly how to do it – http://www.consumersunion.org/pdf/security/securityUT.pdf
It generally takes 5 business days to go into effect and can be unfrozen temporarily by you or removed completely at any time.
Your existing creditors can see your credit report, but not new ones. And employers can check your credit report for a background check.
Unfortunately, this will not stop creditors from sending you things. But you can stop these by going to http://www.optoutprescreen.com/.
This is just for informational purposes only. If you have legal questions or tax questions, you will have to contact those professionals.
Click HERE to get more tips information on Identity Theft and more on the Federal Trade Commission Website or watch this video below: