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Concerned About Identity Theft? Freeze your Credit Reports.

While cyber crimes rise, the actual percentages of the probability of someone’s identity being stolen remains relatively low. However, anyone who has experienced such an unfavorable event, knows all too well that being overly cautious is never a bad idea.

The rise and cyber crimes have resulted in a new option for individuals trying to secure their identities from hackers and thieves. Introducing Security Credit Freeze!

What is a Security Credit Freeze?

A security credit freeze is the act of freezing all of your credit report history and credit information for a set period of time. During this time, no one can access your credit report or any type of credit information in regards to your personal identity. This system was devised to assist people in keeping their identities safe from those who would like to open new accounts in their names.

And example of this would be someone who has your personal information like your name, date of birth, and Social Security number, who goes to a store to open a credit card in your name. Someone with this information could also make larger purchases that could ruin your credit like buying a house or a car under your name.

While you can’t stop someone from stealing your information altogether, you can reduce their ability to use that information. In order to open a credit account under anyone’s name, the issuing company has to do a credit check on the individual applying for credit; if a credit freeze has been activated, all of your credit information will disappear from the servers, and no one will be able to access a credit report, leaving the thief unable to open a new fraudulent account.

How to Freeze your Credit Report

Activating a credit report freeze is not an easy task. There maybe some fees involved and a few complications along the way. But generally, you must contact the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

When contacting the bureaus, expect for them to ask for your personal information such as your name, your address, your date of birth, and your Social Security number. Feel free to divulge this information, as you can trust the individuals at the credit bureaus. The attending representative may also ask you for other details.

Fees and filing requirements will vary by state; you can visit their websites for each credit bureau for more information.
The Ins and Outs of Freezing your Credit

According to recent searches, the fees for freezing your credit range between five dollars and $10. However, individuals over the age of 65 qualify for a discount. Alternately, if you have already been a victim of identity theft, these bureaus will freeze your credit report for you free of charge.

Once your credit freeze has been activated, the bureau will give you a personal identification pin, you must retain this for your records it as this will be the only way for you to unfreeze your credit report when you are ready.

Deactivating your credit report freeze requires a small fee, usually about $10 and this fee varies according to the rules and regulations of your state.

Should You Freeze Your Credit?

The fees may not seem to hefty on a step-by-step basis, but if you allow them to accumulate they can be a real burden. It is essential that you accurately plan out your steps so that you know exactly how much you will be paying once the process is completely over.

Once you choose to lift your credit freeze, be aware that this can be a lengthy process that can take upwards of five working days. In the meantime, if you have acquired new credit cards or accounts you can do a few things to reduce the possibility of a hacker stealing your card information:

  • Do not opt to save credit card information on your browser fields
  • Invest in a VPN service like Hide-my-IP,  that can divert your IP address and protect your computer’s location from hackers
  • Do not keep your credit card numbers and information saved on files on the computer, it is always best to keep a hand written notebook with all of your private information in a safe

Despite the many stumbles and hassles that you will face along the way, freezing your credit is a fail proof method of keeping your money safe and secure from the wicked hands of the hackers.

Protecting Your Child’s Identity

Protecting Your Child’s Identity

Protecting Your Child’s Identity
Posted by iKeepSafe

Financial identity theft has grown into a multibillion-dollar problem, and at least 7% of the cases that are reported target children’s identities. It is estimated that over 140,000 thousand children are victims of identity fraud each year in the U.S., according to research conducted in 2011by IDAnalytics, but the actual number of child victims may be much higher, as the theft of a child’s financial identity is often not discovered until the child applies for credit.

Protecting Your Child’s Identity

There are four primary reasons kids identities are so attractive to thieves:

* Kids aren’t seeking credit.
* Kids Social Security Numbers are unused making it easier to combine them with a new name and birthdate; the allure of an untainted SSN (one with no credit problems) is in the opportunity it represents for creating fake lines of credit and charging up high debts.
* Children aren’t monitoring their identities so discovery of the theft isn’t likely to happen for years – in fact it is very hard to monitor an identity at all until a child is 14 years old; even after they are 14, very few check their credit history before they seek their first line of credit.
* Lots of people get access to a child’s identity information through a variety of means.

In a 2011 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) discussion, “Stolen Futures: A Forum on Child Identity Theft”, several concerning statistics were presented.

Other research indicates children are targeted for identity theft 51 times more often than adults (Debix). And, minors who were alerted about potential privacy compromises were 7 times more likely to actually experience fraud than adults who were similarly alerted, according IDAnalytics.

There are two primary threats to kids’ financial identities.
The first threat comes from criminal businesses that use computers and publicly available information to find Social Security numbers for which no line of credit has been established. You may wonder how criminals steal numbers that aren’t in any system, but that’s the beauty of it. They don’t have to know whose SSN they’re stealing, they just have to find SSNs that are legitimate and have no credit history.

The second threat comes from family members looking for a new line of credit. They steal their children’s, nieces’ or nephews’, grandchild’s, even younger siblings’ identities, primarily to use themselves to create new lines of credit. In cases where family members are the thieves, children may be very reluctant to report the incidents to authorities even after they become adults, making the cleanup of their credit scores and identity particularly difficult.

The impact of identity theft on a child can vary especially once the child becomes an adult. Your child may discover their identity has been used in crimes, they may be denied credit or college loans, experience difficulty renting an apartment, opening a utility account, or even getting a phone account in their name. They may also be subjected to medical identity theft where his or her medical records have been tampered with in order to scam an insurance agency.

Minimize your child’s ID theft risks
Checking a child’s credit report is possible for youth but it is generally ineffective since they haven’t built up a solid credit history. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, credit report monitoring only catches a child’s ID theft about 1% of the time. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t concrete steps you can – and should be – taking to protect your child.

Don’t let ID information leak out. This vigilance needs to begin even before birth.
Keep any information about your child on a baby registry generic.

Don’t give a birth date, the child’s name, your hospital, or other information that could be used to help tie information to your child. Once baby gifts have been received, shut down the registry. Some companies don’t make this easy, but if you call and demand the record be removed you should be successful. If you choose to put a birth announcement online or in a newspaper, keep the information generic.

Do not leave your child’s birth certificates or social security information out where they can be seen by others.
Do not keep their SSN cards (or yours) in your wallet or purse where they can be stolen. If you don’t have a safe or safety deposit box, find your most secure location to store these in.

As your child grows and participates in sports, clubs, and organizations, you will often be asked to provide their social security number (SSN).
Challenge the requestors need for this information, and ask how it will be protected, who will have access, and when and how it will be discarded when your child is no longer with the team, club or organization. Do not feel reassured if the requestor ‘only’ wants the last 4 digits of their SSN – these are the only critical numbers.

SSN’s have three sections; the first three numbers represent the state in which the SSN was issued (after 1972 they represent the zip code). Anything between 001-003 and before 1972 for example, is issued in New Hampshire.

The second set of numbers in the social security string represents a specific window of time during which the number was generated, quickly identifying the age of the legitimate SSN recipient.

The last four digits are the only random numbers – and ironically those are the ones you’re asked to provide most frequently. Find out if you can use an alternative form of identification for your child whenever possible.

Help teens understand that they don’t have to have money to be at risk.
Lots of teens get tripped up because they figure they don’t have enough money in their bank account to matter – if someone really wants to steal their $54.13, they would go for it. But this is the wrong way to look at it. It’s not what your child has in their account that interests a criminal; it’s how far they can put your child in debt.

A criminal is not likely to steal anything from your child’s bank account because it could tip them off. What they’re interested in is getting a $40k loan using your child’s identity. Because your child is not likely to be checking their credit history it can be years before they discover that their credit rating is ruined and they owe money.

Monitor what is shared about your child online.
Websites typically collect name, age, and birthdate – all great starting points for ID thieves if the company records are hacked or if they display this information about users. If your child also says where they were born, thieves know the first 5 digits of their SSN… a little digging or social engineering can quickly provide the rest of the information.

Keep your computers, laptops, and smartphones secure.
If you have any financial records, tax returns, etc., on your computer and it becomes infected with malware, criminals can steal all of your identity information and the identity information of your dependents.

Freeze your child’s credit file – if a file exists.
If a credit report exists for your child you should assume their identity has already been used fraudulently. In this case, you the parent or legal guardian can freeze your child’s credit file. You will have to provide proof that you are the parent or legal guardian and that fraud has occurred.

Unfortunately, credit bureaus won’t create a file for a child at the request of a parent who wants to place a preventative freeze. Files are created based on information reported by creditors – for example: employers, credit card companies, mortgage providers and other lenders. If your child has never had a job, applied for a credit card or loan, and has not had their identity stolen, they won’t have a credit report.

Check your child’s credit report annually.
You can check your child’s credit report for free once a year at each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Ask your legislators and credit agencies to make one small change in how they conduct their business to dramatically reduce child identity theft.
If credit issuing companies checked the date of birth of the person seeking credit and matched it against their reported Social Security Number (remember the first 5 digits represent the location and date of birth) it would quickly identify that the applicant was an infant, child, or teen. This should kick out a red flag requiring additional documentation.

There are legitimate cases when an adult would have a Social Security number that is new, such as when immigrants are issued an SSN, or when people have had to have their SSN reissued because of Identity Theft, but these cases can easily be dealt with, The vast majority of new card holders are minors, and it is very unlikely that a baby who was issued a SSN two years ago needs it for a line of credit or mortgage.

© iKeepSafe

How to protect yourself from id-theft

By: Dale

Every year nearly 15 million Americans become victims of Id theft. Identity theft is now the number one consumer complaint made to the Federal Trade Commission

Studies indicate that over $900 and one hundred and sixty-five hours are spent in restoring accounts after id theft. In order to minimize the chances of being caught, identity thieves churn accounts very often, use as much or as little as quickly as possible and move on to next account. Accounts can be bought on-line for less than a dollar in forums and chat rooms across the web.

Id thieves are lurking.

  • Id thieves are becoming even more sophisticated, so even more stringent protection is now required.
  • With the proliferation of social networks that require a profile that is public without much restriction, we should be extremely careful when issuing personal information.
  • Your identity which is the only thing that is really yours, can be stolen and used in a variety of ways, including drivers licenses,job and credit applications.
  • Some of the basics in id theft protection include shredding financial documents and paperwork with personal information and removing Social Security cards when they are not needed.
  • Because we now live in a digital age, where all information can be transformed and stored in digital format, we should be fully aware and utilize extreme caution when entering personal any where on-line.

Protect Your Credit Report\

  • Inspect all financial statements and monitor your credit report regularly. Look for any irregularities or address changes or unrecognized charges that indicate that your account may be subject to takeover.
  • Monitor your credit card and bank statements for unrecognized transactions.
  • One of the advantages of online access to your accounts is that it can be done any time. If you can, frequently check your accounts online, this should give a slight edge over identity thieves.

Credit and financial statements are mailed at regular scheduled intervals.

Become aware of the intervals and if a particular statement does not arrive within the expected period, contact the financial institution as this could indicate some interruption or record interception.

Monitor your credit report.

Your report includes your Social Security Number, employers and all debts, even those that are closed. Besides helping you detect account takeover, credit report monitoring can alert you to new and unauthorized accounts that have been opened in your name.

Other uses of Stolen Identity.

Your Stolen Identity can also be used for other non-credit uses such as job applications,or the purchase of services such as cable and telephone. These incidents make id theft a bit harder to detect as they require access to public records.

Thwart the thieves

  • Your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement should be ordered annually.
  • Inspect the statement for unrecognized employers – This may indicate that your identity is being used by someone else for a job. Look for unrecognised benefits outlined in the statements from your health insurer..Although there may be no payments required, unrecognised benefits may indicate that your identity is use somewhere to the advantage of receiving benefits.

Seek assistance Crime is a full-time job and protection should also be implemented on a 24-hr basis. There are automated services that implement 24-hr protection, so that you can continue your activities worry-free.

Services available today include real-time monitoring of your records for irregularities and coverage for any expenses involved in recovering your identity.

Everyone is at risk of id-theft. Everyone with a credit card, a bank account, a driver’s license or a Social Security Number is at risk. Everyone who uses the Internet is at risk. Young children, students and adults of all ages are at risk.

Take steps to protect yourself from id-theft. Your identity is the only thing that you can really own.

About the Author

The fastest growing crime of Id-theft reported to the FTC is victimsing millions every year. There are simple things that can be done to protect yourself. To learn much more and avoid becoming one of the millions of victims, visit httP://check-for-it.com/id-theft-protection/

(ArticlesBase SC #2904905)

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