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Focus on Financial Issue Bulletin

Identity Theft

 

Focus on Financial Issues: Identity Theft

Kathy Canzano, GFWC Focus on Financial Issues Program Chairman

Did you ever think that you would find yourself a victim of identity theft? No, not me you are saying to yourself. As naive as it sounds, I did not think I could be a victim. I have been very careful to follow the guidelines provided by the many resources through GFWC. I felt very educated on the topic. I know my credit score; I review my monthly checking account statements; I am careful with my bank accounts and giving out my banking information. But, I received a call from the fraud department of my bank telling me they suspected a fraudulent transaction from one of my accounts. Fortunately, the bank caught it in time. I was angry and frustrated; you feel violated. You spend time at the bank; you talk to the police; you change accounts you are inconvenienced; it is a wakeup call. We all must be diligent to protect what is ours.

Any time you suspect fraud you should place a fraud alert with all three credit reporting agencies. They will place a 90-day alert on your account, which can be extended. They will also send you a copy of your report to be sure there arenít other problems. These are the contact numbers to report fraud:

Equifax- 1-800/525-6285

Experian- 1-888/397-3742

TransUnion- 1-800/680-7289

You can never err by being too cautious. Itís better to report a possible fraud and be wrong, than not to report one and allow a problem to continue to grow and fester. You donít have to wait for the bank to call you, here are some tips we all should be using.

5 Tips for Protecting Your Checking Account

  1. Donít give your account number and bank routing information to anyone you donít know.

2.     Review your monthly statement.

3.     Notify your bank about any problems as soon as possible.

4.     If you don't have enough money in your account, don't write the check or authorize the         debit.

5.     Know your rights under consumer protection laws.

5 Tips for Getting the Most From Your Credit Card

1.      Pay on time.

2.     Stay below your credit limit.

3.     Avoid unnecessary fees.

4.     Pay more than the minimum payment.

5.     Watch for changes in the terms of your account.

5 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

1.      Get copies of your credit report-then make sure the information is correct.

2.     Pay your bills on time.

3.     Understand how your credit score is determined. Your credit score is usually based on the answers to these questions:

To learn more about credit scoring, see the Federal Trade Commission's website, Facts for Consumers.

4.     Learn the legal steps you must take to improve your credit report.

5.     Beware of credit-repair scams.

LEARN MORE

For more consumer information, please visit the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System online at www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo.

Remember to report your activities.

 
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