Identity theft tops the list of consumer complaints that are reported to the FTC and other enforcement agencies every year. One of the most common identity crimes is credit card fraud, where a thief gets your card number and makes unauthorized purchases. Normally this can be resolved with minimal cost and inconvenience to you, beyond having to close the account and open a new one. The more serious threat is that a perpetrator will acquire enough of your personal information to open new accounts or borrow money in your name. You may not become aware of this until you review your credit report, or until you are turned down for a loan. While some identity thieves use sophisticated internet-based schemes to hijack your personal information, most of them get it the old-fashioned way: by stealing your wallet, purse, mail or trash.
Personal information has been compromised by hackers breaking into large databases at banks and even the IRS. There is not much we as consumers can do to prevent this. We are fortunate in California to have both credit freeze legislation and security breach notification. The first allows any person to put a freeze on their credit report so that no one can view your file until you release it (free to victims of ID theft; $10 to others). The second requires disclosure to affected parties when any personal data is lost or stolen. Many states don’t have these protections, and there are currently no Federal laws regarding credit freeze and disclosure. Federal law does require credit card companies to absorb most of the losses if your credit card is used fraudulently. In many cases, the card issuer will alert you to a suspicious pattern of activity in your account.
Remember, most identity thieves are opportunists. You don’t need to make your home and your PC into a fortress to defeat them; you just need to be more vigilant than the average consumer. Safeguard your information, mail and trash; monitor your credit reports and statements, and you’ll be more secure than most. If your credit information is compromised, follow the steps above, and keep good records. Identity theft is largely preventable, and also curable with patience and a good plan.
www.Equifax.com – Phone 800-525-6285
www.Experian.com – Phone 888-397-3742
www.TransUnion.com – Phone 800-680-7289
Free credit report: call 877-322-8228 or go to www.annualcreditreport.com (NOT freecreditreport.com – that is actually a fee-based monitoring service)
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov FTC online complaint form
http://oag.ca.gov/idtheft/information-sheets Information on your rights and how to freeze your credit report
https://www.privacyrights.org/topics/7 Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
NOTE: The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. These individuals or outside entities are not affiliated with, nor endorsed by LPL Financial. When you link to any of the web sites provided here, you are leaving this web site. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these web sites.
If you need some help understanding the options in your particular situation, please don’t hesitate to call us at 408-551-6100 or toll free 800-927-8314 and ask to speak with one of our financial advisors.
Retirement Capital Strategies
A Registered Investment Advisor
1190 Saratoga Ave, Ste. 140
San Jose, CA 95129
Tel (408) 551-6100
Source: This article was written by Margaret (Peggy) Stephan, CFP® – LPL Registered Representative at Retirement Capital Strategies.