Thursday, July 28, 2011, AM | 1 Comment
We are all too familiar with phone calls, letters and emails requesting to “update” or “confirm” our personal information. Obviously, you have access to the Internet, do some research or call directly your bank or credit card issuer. No matter how old or young you are, there are some things you can do to better manage and protect your money.
Here are basic precautions against identity theft, check fraud and other financial scams:
Never ever give out your personal info.
Be wary of requests to “update” or “confirm” personal information – Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), date of birth or mother’s maiden name.
Is the company legitimate?
Look up the company using reliable sources. Don’t rely on the contact information that was provided to you on a website or in an unsolicited call or e-mail.
For information about banks, you can use Bank Find – the FDIC’s online directory of insured banking institutions. Or, call the FDIC’s toll-free consumer assistance line at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342).
Sounds too good to be true
If it is too good to be true, it definitely is a fraud. I guess we all have received, in one form or another, calls, letters or emails telling us to pay “taxes” or “fees” before we can claim the nonexistent prize.
You receive a check for more than you are due
Beware of transactions in which another party sends you a check for more than you are due and then asks you to wire back the difference. Remember the Nigerian money scam.
Check bank statements and credit card bills
Look at your bank statements and credit card bills as soon as they arrive and report any discrepancy or anything suspicious, such as an unauthorized withdrawal or charge.
Keep financial records safely
Keep bank and credit card statements, tax returns, credit and debit cards and blank checks out of sight, even at home. Also shred sensitive documents before discarding them.
Periodically review your credit reports
Periodically review your free credit reports to make sure an identity thief has not obtained a credit card or loan in your name.
In a Nutshell
Experts suggest that, to maximize your protection, you request copies from all three credit bureaus but spread out the requests during the course of the year.