Identity theft protection COVERS your privacy
Your personal situation is different from someone else. The identity theft protection service that works for someone may not be the best choice for someone else. You should take the time to understand all the identity theft protection options available to you to find the best solution for your needs and goals.
Consumer Identity Theft Protection Locator
What Is Identity Theft Protection?
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
There are a lot of ways identity theft can happen to you. Hackers may get your information from a data security breach. Or you may unknowingly provide it on social media, during conversions others can hear or by leaving financial documents in unsafe places.
Types Of Theft
Difficult To Detect
Identity Theft Crime Categories
What Else Should I Know?
In this age of electronic data and the internet, our personal information and digital footprints circulate faster than ever. And there are criminals ready to take advantage, at any time. Everyday activities may unknowingly put you and your family at risk. Even simple things like sharing phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses, can open the door for thieves to get deeper access to personal information and potential risks.
Identity Theft Protection Process
Identity Theft Protection Checklist
Thoughts On Identity Theft Protection
Approximately 1 out of every 4 adults are victims of identity theft and witness an average loss of about $3500 in each instance. The damage of ID theft can be devastating and the fall-out hard to contain.
Whether you choose to subscribe to a third-party identity theft protection service or simply want to take some basic steps to help protect your privacy and finances, here are some suggestions.
|Deleting Files||Shed the unwanted risk of computer files you no longer need by deleting excess clutter.|
|Create Strong Passwords||No two passwords should be the same. Passwords should be -8-12 characters, random strings of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.|
|Avoid Public WIFI||Don’t use WIFI for sensitive transactions; assume all your activities are being monitored. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, which encrypts your transmissions. Make sure your home WIFI is secure.|
|Don’t Click At Random||Hackers put out links to lure people into clicking, to trigger a virus or spy download. When in doubt, don’t click.|
|HTTPS||If you visit a website that has “https” that indicates that it is a Secure website, with server encryption software to protect communications. If the website has “http” instead, it means that it is not secure, but it does not mean that it is malicious.|
|Anti Spyware & Malware||Run Anti-Spyware & Malware software on your computer frequently, to keep things clean.|
Credit Repair | Identity Theft
Frequently Asked Questions
Consumer Credit Repair
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was written in 1970 as an amendment to the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The FCRA provides additional measures of consumer protection in the areas of fairness, accuracy, and privacy of the information collected by the credit bureaus. It also allows you to personally engage in credit repair and maintenance processes, verifying that the information in your credit report is correct.
A credit bureau – sometimes called a “consumer reporting agency” – is a business that collects relevant consumer information from creditors and courthouses, and then sells that information to interested parties such as potential lenders. Such information is sold in the form of a credit report. In the U.S., the three major credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Normally negative items will remain on your credit report for seven years, with the exception of bankruptcy (ten years). You may choose to dispute a negative item, but if it is accurate, the dispute will be rejected and the item will remain on your credit report. However, if the negative item violated consumer protection laws, it may be removed.
When an account is unpaid for more than 180 days, a creditor usually writes off the debt as a loss on their financial statements. This is known as a charge off. Once a debt is charged off, it is either transferred to an in-house collections department or sold to a third-party collection agency who will likely contact you in attempt to recoup the balance.
The time it takes to repair your credit is completely dependent upon your personal situation. Six months should be your guide if you have many issues with your credit report.
It is a common myth that negative items must remain on your credit report for a minimum number of years. In fact, there is no minimum time-frame. Creditors control the information they provide to the credit bureaus. They can also choose to remove negative items as well. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires all reported information to be fair, accurate, and substantiated. If these conditions are not met, the credit bureaus are required to remove it.
Credit Repair is actually the process of removing inaccurate, unfounded, out of date, false, and erroneous information from your credit report. Your credit report dictates your credit score. The 3 major credit bureaus collect information from lenders, creditors, and debt collectors and apply it to your credit report. Based on that information, your credit score is determined. This information could include the balances on loans or credit cards, credit inquiries, debt to income ratio, and most importantly, credit utilization (the percentage of debt you have to available credit)
This is determined by what your goal is. Perhaps you are trying to buy a house. If this is the case, you might want to get started at least 6-9 months before you plan on purchasing. If you plan on purchasing a car, then you might to get started in 2-3 months.
You have the ability to dispute any information on your credit report you deem as inaccurate, unfounded, or incorrect. However many consumers have tried doing this themselves only to find out that the process takes too long, is confusing, and full of challenges they deem too stressful to deal with themselves. A third-party credit repair company can take the burden of disputing off your hands and have the ability to speed up the process through their experience. Think of a third-party credit repair company like you would think of a Tax preparer, Legal Service, or even a plumber. You could probably do it yourself, but perhaps not with the same end results. We highly suggest that all of our clients and prospective clients take some time to learn about their credit, credit reports, as well as the process of repairing their own credit. You may feel doing it yourself is the better route for you and your situation.
A good credit score helps you obtain low interest rates and long term loans, like home loans or car loans. Lenders may charge high interest rates or impose undesirable repayment plans for you. Given the stakes and the consequences involved, it is clearly to your advantage to work toward recovering from a bad credit rating.
Credit Bureaus are companies that maintain records of your credit lines and performance. Records can go back for up to ten years, in the case of bankruptcy data. Creditors, banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions supply this information to the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus then compile this data into your a credit report. A credit report has details of how you have managed credit in the past, so other lenders can judge your credit worthiness.
Most likely your credit report has errors.
The Federal Trade Commission reported in a study conducted in 2012 that 26% of the credit reports they analyzed had errors. Of those with errors, 5% who disputed these errors increased their credit scores at least 25 points. That is a significant change in a credit score.
You should not assume that your credit reports are completely accurate.
No. Your credit report is independent of your spouse. The same is true of your credit scores. However…
A lender will likely take into consideration both of your credit reports when deciding on a home mortgage, for example. If your credit report is bad and your spouse’s good you may find that the loan, if approved, has a higher interest rate than if both were good.
It certainly can. Many employers will do a credit check of a potential employee to determine the stability of the job candidate. For job positions that entail financial responsibility, it is most likely you would experience a credit report check.
When you are initially contacted by a debt collector regarding an unpaid debt, you have the right to request proof of the debt within 30 days of initial contact. This is called debt validation. Unless the debt collector can validate that you are responsible for the debt, they must stop all further collection efforts.
The debt validation letter from collector needs to include: 1) Proof the debt exists; 2) Proof that you are responsible for the debt; and 3) Proof that the debt collector has legal right to collect on the debt.
Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft is the deliberate misuse of another person’s identifying information. Today, the classic example is when a thief steals a person’s social security number and uses it to open new accounts for financial gain. Identity theft’s loose definition has more broadly come to encompass other forms of fraud that typically take place online such as credit card fraud, medical benefit fraud, impersonating someone to take out payday loans in their name, and more.
An identity theft protection company offers three primary services:
- Monitoring: The company will monitor your accounts for suspicious activity, the web and black market websites for your personal information, and your credit. They will also keep an eye out for any new accounts opened in your name, be they bank accounts, TV subscriptions, utilities, or loans. Whenever they spot something suspicious, the customer is notified so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
- Restoration: If your identity has been compromised in any way, the company will have expert staff on hand to guide you through the process of restoration. This could mean canceling and replacing cards, removing fraudulent charges, and freezing your credit, among other things.
- Insurance: In the event that you suffer monetary damages as a result of identity theft, the service includes insurance to compensate each customer.
A data breach is the most common way that a person’s personal information becomes available to identity thieves. Hackers can breach the servers of banks, credit card companies, retailers, and anyone else who keeps an insecure database of customer records. Those records are sold on the black market, where thieves use the information to conduct identity theft. Data breaches often leak thousands of individual’s information at a time.
Instead of using someone’s personal information for financial gain, medical identity theft is using someone’s identity to obtain medical care or drugs. This happens as a result of a stolen insurance card and other personal info. Besides the financial harm, fraudulent information can be added to a person’s medical records.
Children’s social security numbers are valuable because they are essentially clean slates. They have no information already associated with them. Because a child isn’t likely to need a good credit rating for many years to come, child identity theft can go on for years without anyone noticing. Often a family member or friend is responsible, but strangers are also threats.
Fraud alerts notify companies that require a credit check that the person is at risk, and they take extra care to avoid identity theft. A fraud alert can be placed on your credit report at each of the national credit rating agencies so that if anyone attempts to open a new account in your name and requires a credit check, you will first be alerted.
A security freeze is a more extreme alternative to fraud alerts that completely lock access to a person’s credit file. Creditors cannot check the file and thus no new accounts can be opened. Security freezes should not be enacted lightly, as your current accounts (telephone, utilities, landlords) might need access to them.
Most studies and reports suggest that between 8 million and 12 million cases of identity theft occur each year in the United States.
The most common form of identity theft is government benefits fraud (34%). The second most popular identity theft crime is credit card fraud (17%) followed by phone or utilities fraud (14%) and bank fraud (8%). Employment-related fraud (6%) and loan fraud (4%) are also common.
The most common source of private information is still stolen or misplaced purses and wallets. Private data can be stolen by observing someone write or type personal information in public, such as account numbers or PINs at ATMs. Private information is also obtained from discarded documents in trash or recycling bins, and unsecured mailboxes. Businesses and their employees also are a source of personal information loss along with Internet or database penetration.
Consumers should carefully monitor bills and bank statements for suspicious activity. If you suddenly stop receiving statements, contact the particular source immediately. You should regularly review your credit reports to discover unauthorized activity on your behalf.