The most sensitive piece of personally identifiable information is without a doubt your social security number. This is one piece of information you don’t want anybody else getting their hands on. An identity thief can do unthinkable amounts of damage with your social security number and very little other information. So what do you need to do in order to keep your SSN as secure as possible?
A typical yet effective strategy on preventing Social Security Number (SSN) theft is on the way, finally. This change will hopefully make it more difficult for identity thieves to easily access your SSN and use it for identity theft purposes. Your SSN will eventually be excluded by Medicare as part of their benefit cards. Over the years, these numbers have been among the primary basis for medical identification. This was just a problem waiting to happen. And guess what, it did happen. In the form of countless cases of identity theft.
Recently, President Obama signed a bill intending to stop using SSNs when transacting with Medicare. This law was accepted by the State’s major political parties. The primary objective of this law is to modify doctors’ fees when it comes to giving medical services to patients covered by Medicare, however there is a specific section of the law that emphasizes that never should SSNs be reflected, typed, or included on the Medicare ID.
According to Texas Representative Sam Johnson (Republican), the main ingredient to making identity theft possible is the SSNs and that the criminals use the Medicare cards of the seniors as a tool.
“Carry your card with you when you are away from home. Let your hospital or doctor see your card when you require hospital, medical or health services under Medicare.” These statements serve as aid to prevent identity theft. This defies the rule that mandates not a single person should ever bring their personal SSN on their behalf. The good news is that the law just solved identity theft by addressing the source.
While this is true however, there are still other ways by which culprits will be able to get your SSN and use it to their schemes. Take note of the following ways where your social security number is most vulnerable and protect yourself in the future. If you do become a victim of a stolen social security number, here are some steps to follow immediately.
1. Tax Documents
These days, filing taxes through mail is a common practice. If you are among the people who do this, there is a possibility that unauthorized people/entities may have access to your documents containing sensitive, personal information like your SSN. Identity thieves can simply take mail from your mail box during tax season. They know exactly what they’re looking for and within seconds, they can have your social security number, and possibly even drivers license numbers, phone numbers and your entire identity. In addition to, SSN thieves also execute their crime through phone scams. Fraudsters pretend to be IRS representatives contacting people and convincing them to provide specific information such as the SSN and other documents. Keep in mind that the IRS only communicates through mail. Solution: Don’t file your taxes via mail. Ask your tax preparer to e-file or if you do your own taxes, you have this option as well. Keep the sensitive paperwork out of the mail and the hands of id thieves.
2. Data Sharing
When you stop and think about it, it seems like every agency requires SSN today – from government agencies, real estate companies, insurance firms, and even telephone plan provider. Unfortunately, providing your SSN is something that most people nowadays do not worry about anymore. It is true that a lot of institutions need SSN for their processes. However, it does not necessarily mean that everyone should lawfully have it. For your information, the law states that it is the IRS, healthcare providers, police, banks, and employers which are allowed to require Social Security Numbers and information from you. A few companies, however, may also be permitted but the process must be upon strict compliance with the law. Whenever you notice that there is an option that does not require you to share your SNN information, choose not to share it. This limits the possibility for your SSN details to be obtained by fraudsters.
3. Bank transactions
Clearly, the law allows banking institutions to ask for your SSN information. However, they are mandated to observe and abide by the “Know Your Customer” guidelines. This stops criminals to use the banks for their fraudulent schemes. As a customer, you have the privilege to learn about the measures that the bank adopts in order to secure your SSN details as well as be oriented about their solutions in case a breach happens.
When you know about the typical sources of SSN ID theft, you will be able to protect yourself from it. Safeguard your SSN at all times by keeping your SS card in your safety deposit box or in a safe at home. Never carry your social security card on your person. It is not necessary. Furthermore, don’t feel that you are required to share your social security number with anyone. You can always refuse to provide it if you don’t feel comfortable with the person asking for it. As always, monitor your credit for signs of fraud or unauthorized use.
Keeping your credit score and credit rating in good standing is extremely important when it comes time to apply for auto loans, mortgages & other revolving lines of credit. Unfortunately some of us fall into a bad spot where we’ve let our credit scores drop because of debt, identity theft and various other reasons. This doesn’t mean you have to live with a bad credit rating forever.
There are many ways people can begin improving their credit scores with some simple techniques they just might not be aware of. Erasing old, inaccurate information from your credit reports, paying off old debt, & avoiding late payments are just a few ways that you can start boosting your credit scores immediately.
For millions of Americans, their Netflix accounts are essential to getting through a sick day or weekend at home. Nevertheless, something most of these subscribers don’t pay much mind to is keeping basic account security that helps to keep their individual info safe. Something as easy as changing a password regularly may appear like a bit of a hassle, but it’s vital to making sure ongoing account security, particularly as it associates with current hacking attacks.
A number of major data breaches in recent months have potentially put Netflix users at risk of having their streaming accounts hacked, according to Advertisement Week’s Lost Remote vertical. In mid-October 2016 and once again previously this month, Netflix began alerting customers that it had actually been checking its own user records versus data exposed in other companies’ information breaches, indicating that while Netflix itself has actually been unaffected, user accounts were still at threat. As a result, impacted users were required to alter their passwords.
What’s the risk?
The reason for customers to change their passwords is basic: Many individuals use the very same login details for numerous or perhaps all their online accounts, according to TIME Data Security. While can make it much easier for individuals to bear in mind their passwords, it likewise makes it simpler for hackers to get access to potentially important details. Even something as easy as a Netflix password can give criminals– who can frequently buy taken login data at low individual costs– access to crucial information that can be used for fraud, including name, address, and even charge card data.
Customers can examine to see how their accounts have been accessed by making use of Netflix’s “Viewing Activity” feature, which will show info such as the IP address and place where accounts have been accessed, the news source stated. That, in turn, can assist individuals comprehend if their accounts have been subjected to these kinds of attacks, and trigger them to start altering their passwords for their other accounts if they haven’t currently.
People typically know they need to utilize multiple passwords for their various accounts– ideally using an unique one for each account they develop– hackers also know that this isn’t basic practice for the huge bulk of internet users, inning accordance with KrebsOnSecurity. Hackers also understand that if they have, state, a victim’s Facebook password, they can attempt using that password for Twitter, Netflix and even savings account and have some quantity of success.
Fortunately for numerous web users is that larger business like Netflix are taking preemptive actions to make sure account information isn’t used by hackers, but there’s no single sure-fire way to prevent this from occurring. Businesses can examine their own records versus exactly what’s been dripped online, but it depends on users change their login information.
” Some Netflix members have actually received emails motivating them to alter their account passwords as a precautionary procedure due to the recent disclosure of extra credentials from an older breach at another internet business,” Netflix told KrebsOnSecurity. “Note that we are constantly participating in these kinds of proactive security procedures (leveraging Scumblr in addition to other mechanisms and information sources), not just when it comes to significant security breaches such as this one.”
In addition to keeping different passwords for all their separate accounts, it’s smart for users to make sure they take efforts to read more about the dangers they face and alter their passwords regularly. That way, even if a years– old Netflix account is breached, there’s little chance of that to affect other accounts. When passwords fail you, it’s constantly excellent to have an identity theft security plan in place. Take proactive steps to secure your personal information and keep track of your credit by monitoring it regularly.
There is always a downside to the efficiency that modern technology provides. While it is more convenient to carry a credit card instead of bulky cash, your identity becomes vulnerable due to the information you have provided to apply for the card. More so, you become almost too exposed with credit bureaus collecting information about you when creditors ask for it. Before you know it, you could be a victim of identity theft.
How do you know that your identity has possibly been stolen? There some telltale signs that someone is assuming your identity and one of them is when your application for a credit card, loan or insurance gets rejected due to low credit score yet you are sure that you have paid your bills on time. You can also be a victim of identity theft if a debt collector demands that you pay your credit card account that has been overdue yet you never had a credit card. It is also a sign that you are a victim of stolen identity if you receive, through mail, a credit card that you have never applied for.
If you suspect that your identity is stolen, immediately report it to credit bureaus. Place a fraud alert, which will initially last for 90 days according to the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act FRCA, and ask for a copy of your true credit report. You will then receive an e-mail of your rights as a victim of stolen identity from credit bureaus. You can ask for an extension of the fraud alert for up to seven years for as long as you have evidences that your identity is indeed being used by another person. You can cancel the fraud alerts anytime the case has been solved.
Once you get credit report from credit bureaus, immediately review the reports and look for fraudulent accounts and erroneous information. Report to the credit bureau, from which you receive your report, any anomaly that you see. Your notification will require the credit bureaus block the information from future credit reports and notify creditors of the fraudulent accounts. Check your credit reports manually or sign up for credit monitoring to get the names and contact details of the credit grantors of the fraudulent account and ask the bureau for those details if they have not included it in your report.
These are just the initial steps that you can take once you notice that someone else has assumed your identity. From here, you can proceed to more complicated measures such as freezing your account and asking the assistance of your local law enforcers. Identity theft can ruin your life if you do not act on it quickly. So be aware and stay on top of what’s going on with your credit reports.
Advertising Disclosure: we receive commission from Identity Guard.
Identity Guard® is one of the most popular and highest rated identity protection/credit report monitoring service on the market. It ranked #1 on the Kiplinger Financial Magazine’s Top Identity Theft Protection Services list* and has won numerous other awards for it’s protection and customer satisfaction. The company’s protection services are based on their three tier approach of Monitor, Protect and Recover*. Here’s my review of the Identity Guard family credit monitoring plans for 2018
- Monitor: use of technology to monitor personal and financial information in order to provide credit, public record and identity monitoring with prompt security alerts regarding potential threats to your identity which can be delivered via email, text or phone.
- Protect: provides anti-virus software for your computer, and keystroke encryption to allow safe browsing of the internet; their service comes with ID Vault, which helps protect logins, passwords and credit card information on your most visited shopping and member sites.
- Recover: in case your identity is stolen during your membership, Identity Guard will provide personal recovery assistance that puts you in contact with experts and counselors, and offers identity theft insurance** and lost wallet protection.
Plan Levels & Pricing
Identity Guard offers three membership level for their individual (single social security number) plans:
The Essentials membership is $9.99 per month and excludes certain features such as public record monitoring, anti-virus software, and password protection.
The Total Protection membership, at $19.99 per month, provides members with all of the services from the Essentials plan, as well as quarterly credit reports and scores based on data from all three bureaus.
The Platinum membership costs $24.99 per month and provides all of the services of the Total Protection level plus monthly credit reports and scores based on data from all three bureaus. Their free mobile app is a nice added feature for those consumers who are serious about guarding their identity and protecting their credit.
You can save $3.00/month of the Identity Guard.com homepage price when you sign up through StopIdentityFraud.org
When you sign up for your free 30 day trial, your monthly subscription will automatically begin at the end of those 30 days, unless you cancel your membership.
Couples & Family Plans
Identity Guard recently released 2 new plans that help make credit monitoring more affordable for families of all sizes.
Couples Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults in the same household. $26.99/month ($6.99/month savings)
Family Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults and up to 15 children in a single household. $27.99/month.
Identity Guard has a proven track record as being one of the most trusted identity protection & monitoring companies. If you want to monitor multiple social security numbers, you won’t go wrong with either of these plans.
Your identity is more than just who you are these days. It is what you apply for, what you purchase, and how many credit lines you have as well. An identity that has been abused through criminal activity will make it difficult for you to be able to live the life that you want to lead. The investment in identity theft protection is a sound and affordable investment that allows you to rest easier at night knowing that someone has got your back. Identity Guard is hands down the most comprehensive identity & credit monitoring service we have reviewed.
With monthly subscription pricing for nearly every budget, a high level of customer service and provided by a company with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, you should put Identity Guard at the very top of your list when shopping for identity protection.
Enroll with Identity Guard and you’ll be able to discover what having a secure identity truly means.
Advertising Disclosure: we receive commission from Identity Guard.
*Ranking based on affiliate ranking
**Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group‚ Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms‚ conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms‚ conditions‚ and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.
We ranked the TransUnion credit monitoring service fourth on our list because it’s provided by one of the 3 major credit reporting bureaus and a trusted company when it comes to credit reports & credit related services. When you sign up for TransUnion’s $1.00 / 7 day trial you get immediate access to your TransUnion credit report plus 3 bureau credit monitoring. These are great benefits to be sure, but their services are very TranUnion specific, as you can imagine. If you’re looking for your Equifax & Experian credit report information, you won’t find it with this service. You will be better served going with a comprehensive monitoring package that includes 3 bureau credit monitoring AND allows you access to credit reports from all 3 bureaus. IdentityGuard & Lifelock would be better choices if this is an option you require.
The TransUnion monthly subscription costs $19.95, which is about the average price for most monitoring plans. However, once again, for that price we think there are better options that will include more detailed monitoring, alerting and credit tools.
With the TransUnion subscription you also receive:
- Lost wallet protection
- Credit file change alerting
- Personalized credit analysis tools
- 1 million dollars id theft insurance
You also have the ability to place free credit freezes on your TransUnion credit reports. This is normally a $10 charge for each lock/unlock you place. However it’s included in the TU credit monitoring monthly subscription.
TransUnion customer support is available via phone M-Th 8am-12am ET and Fri-Sun 8am-8pm ET. It’s extremely easy to get a live representative on the phone, and we found them to be extremely courteous and knowledgeable when we placed a test call.
While we like the security that comes with using a monitoring plan from a trusted company such as TransUnion, we believe the TU service is fairly limited and doesn’t offer as much as the services we ranked above it. With no access to Experian or Equifax credit reports as well as no FICO score availability, we would recommend this service only to those are are concerned solely with their TransUnion specific reports & information.
TransUnion Credit Reporting Faq’s
TransUnion is one of the three credit reporting bureaus along with Equifax and Experian. The three credit reporting agencies keep track of your credit history and provide reports to prospective lenders and mortgage brokers. TransUnion not only reports on your credit, but they have processes in place to help make corrections to your report. On their site, TransUnion asks: “Have you applied for a credit card and been denied because of bad credit?” Credit card companies may be closing the door to you because of inaccurate information! TransUnion helps to fix your credit record, but only if you know what your TUnion credit report says and specifically what needs to be fixed.
TransUnion allows you to run a credit check on yourself quickly and easily. You could even pull your credit report online while on a lunch break or in your pajamas at home. The sooner you see the Experian, Equifax or TransUnion credit reports that lenders and credit card companies see, the sooner you can make the changes needed to improve your credit rating and change in your life.
With a menu of reporting format options ranging from a free credit report to a low-cost $29.95 three in one credit report profile including a free credit score, there is almost no reason that you can’t quickly and conveniently obtain your credit report information and immediately report any payment, debt, name, or address mistakes to TransUnion.
Do you need to purchase a personal TransUnion credit report?
Right now you can run a personal credit check for only $9. Do you want to compare your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports side-by-side to be sure none of them are reporting damaging or flat out wrong information about your credit history? If so, the three in one credit report is the way to go.
Yes, credit reporting agencies sometimes make mistakes. TransUnion may not even know it and their mistakes could cost you. It is up to you to make sure that your debt payment history information is reflected accurately on TransUnion’s report. Does your credit report tell lenders that you made two late payments — but you didn’t? Does the report say that you still have an outstanding auto loan debt — but your car is paid off? Correcting wrong info can possibly increase your credit score. Increasing your credit score could mean the difference between a lender saying YES instead of NO. Transunion also offers id protection services that will keep track of your credit reports for fraud and identity theft.
Here is what a TransUnion credit report will show you:
- Names you have used
- Current and prior addresses
- Names of your creditors
- The amount of secured and unsecured debt taken out in your name
- Whether that debt is in the form of a revolving or installment account
- The current balances versus the limits on those accounts
- How prompt or late payments have been
- Your employment history and employer addresses
- Public records of judgments or liens against you
How do you get your TransUnion credit report right now? Just visit their site at www.transunion.com.
Learning how to prevent credit card fraud online can be challenging, especially if you’re not using the right tools for to resolve the problem. What makes it much difficult to stop credit card fraud over the internet is that you’re not in the thief’s physical presence. You have no photo IDs to compare to the face behind credit cards and as such, you can depend on effective methods to prevent and detect. Unluckily, technology isn’t foolproof, particular if you’re playing with the false bank identification number database.
You can start preventing credit card fraud by establishing identification. While a lot of people depend on the 3-digit code on the back of your card as a proof that the person utilizing the card actually has the ownership of it, it does not prevent against stolen or lost cards. While bin database purports to stay on card numbers that are used in questionable ways, a lot of them fail to keep their information updated. Keeping databases may cost money and tons of companies would rather consider to inflate their profit margins and will leave you with many charges, instead of pouring in the important resources to operate quality products. Beware of those that undersell their competition severely.
If you are an online business owner, you should always prioritize to invest in a reliable bin database. This is the only way that you will be able to tell if the customer has put holds on the card due to stolen or lost criteria. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you know regarding such measures, even if it’s the responsibility of the customer to report about their lost or stolen card.
Checking your monthly statement is also essential. It can be an old fashioned method, yet it can make a big impact on assessing and finding fraudulent charges. Checking your bank statement monthly can alert you to even insignificant charges that are made by authorized users of your financial information. Bank apps and online banking make it easy for you to check your statement no matter where you are. This may help you keep tabs on the possible credit card fraud. Numerous fraudsters will begin by testing small charges to check if the card really works. Keep an eye on the charges you do not recognize, regardless of how small they are. If you think it’s a bit strange, call your credit card provider at the soonest date.
Investing on the safety of yourself and your business can help you prevent credit card fraud online. With this, you will also provide protection to your loyal customers. There are several practices you may perform to avoid this kind of fraud. Considering those mentioned tips above may also come in handy. Just ensure that you know how to implement them effectively for you to get results in the end. If you can’t protect yourself from credit card fraud, hiring experts or considering an identity protection service from a dependable company like IdentityGuard may also be a wise idea for you.
Last week we mentioned how Your Credit Rating Might Be Ruined Even When You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong. This week we’ll be addressing The 10 Most Frequent Credit Mistakes you’re making.
What’s a Credit Rating?
Your credit rating is a judgment about your fiscal well being, at a certain time. It suggests the threat you represent for lenders, in contrast to other consumers.
There are various approaches to work out FICO scores. The credit rating agencies Equifax and Trans Union use a scale from 300 to 900. High scores on this particular scale are great. The larger your rating, the lower risk you pose to the lender. Lenders might also provide their very own methods for arriving at credit ratings. Additionally, lenders must choose the lowest score you’ll be able to have and still borrow cash from them. They may also apply your score to create the interest you may pay.
Which are the 10 Most Frequent Credit Rating Errors?
1. Neglecting to review your own credit history for mistakes: Assess your credit report at least yearly. Errors on credit reports are somewhat more frequent than you could have visualized and you should stay along with the problem. Should you find any mistakes, contact the credit reporting agency when possible to fix the scenario.
2. Not using your complete legal name in monetary records: It Is possible that individuals with common names or similar sounding names could have their name imputed to a credit report that’s not theirs, as was the situation for Mr. Dave Johnson of Pembroke, Ontario. Use your complete legal title on credit programs, bank accounts as well as other files that become segment of your own credit history.
3. Paying your bills late and neglecting to make at least the minimal monthly payment:In time your lenders will finally report your account as past due, which can damage your credit If you do not pay at least the minimal amount due on score When there is a rationale why you will not be in a position to cover your invoice promptly, get in touch with your lender prior to your invoice is arrangement if due to work-out an feasible
4. Maxing out on your charge cards: If your charge cards are maxed out, prospective lenders may challenge your ability to refund. You might be billed an increased rate of interest to compensate for what exactly is viewed as a higher hazard in case you are qualified to get a loan.
5. Not alarming lenders if you have proceeded: Your statement may arrive late and as a result your payments could be late, possibly damaging your credit score.
6. Registering for too many new charge cards: Consumers who often open new credit cards are viewed as a greater danger than those who do not.
7. Closure older credit card accounts: Closure this can adversely impact your credit score and older credit card accounts shortens the duration of your credit history.
8. Do Not cosign for someone else’s loan: You could be liable for that man’s debt and harm your credit.
9. Do Not share your charge card or social insurance number with anyone: There are a lot of abound where individuals strive by telephone, e-mail or mail to get your charge card or social insurance scams number This is a fast-track to fiscal catastrophe and id theft.
10. Dismissing the warning signals of credit issues: If you’ve problem making the minimum payments on time and have maxed out all of your credit, you’ve severe debt issues.
Professional assistance is required by serious debt issues. Contact a reputable credit repair company or a debt management service to help get your credit moving upward again.
Also Read: The Best Credit Monitoring Services 2018
It’s a new year and that means there’s all sorts of new scams on the horizon especially considering this is an election year in the US and tax season being right around the corner. With new technology being introduced in 2016, this will also likely provide another new avenue for scammers to try and take advantage of you.
Keep an eye out this year for individuals claiming to be from political organizations who are raising funds for the election. Never donate to any political campaign that is solicited via a phone call. 9 times out of 10 this is a scam waiting to happen. Also, be wary of data breaches in 2016. The healthcare industry is ripe for another major data breach, so be proactive and consider an identity theft protection plan, to stay one step ahead of the game.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime which affects millions of people from different parts of the globe. If you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft, you should know the best safety measures to protect yourself from this growing crime.
There are several tips you may take for consideration when avoiding identity theft and some of them are as follows:
Tip #1: Consider an Identity Theft Protection Service
Numerous companies offer credit monitoring services to help anyone protect themselves from identity theft. Such services are available at reasonable rates. Depending on your preferences, you can choose any identity theft service provider that offers top notch solutions.
Tip #2: Keep All Your Personal Documents in a Safe
If you have important documents, it is always a wise idea to keep a personal safe for your home and a safety deposit box anywhere. You may utilize your safe at home for protecting items including social security card, passport, and birth certificate.
Tip #3: Protect Your Wallet or Purse at All Times
If you are buying purses, choose the ones that can be closed shut or zipped. Try not to make use of bags that some can easily reach into or see. Also, keep bags close to your body with tight grip all the time. Don’t leave purses or wallets in the car and if possible, don’t leave these exposed and never keep them in an obvious place.
Tip #4: Photocopy Every Content of Your Wallet
It is also a good idea to make copies of your ID cards, credit cards, and other personal documents that you usually keep in your wallet. In addition to that, keep records of all phone numbers to contact in case you have to order replacement items or close accounts.
Tip #5: Remove Yourself from Any Promotional Lists
If you don’t want to end up with stolen identity, start removing yourself from promotional lists including pre-approved credit card and junk mail lists. This added clutter does not do any good. In fact, you just put yourself at risk of identity theft if the stranger gets their hands on pre-approved cards.
Tip #6: Examine All Your Bank Account Statements
If you want to ensure that your bank accounts are all safe, always examine all your bank account statements regularly. If you bank accounts have unauthorized charges, never hesitate to call your chosen bank immediately.
Tip #7: Never Reveal Personal Information to Unverified Sources
Regardless if it’s over the internet or the phone, don’t reveal personal information to any unverified sources. Never feel pressured to answer questions if you don’t trust the source. Also, feel free to make a request for verifying information before giving any information.
Tip #8: Shred All Sensitive Documents Before Throwing Them Away
Before throwing your personal documents, consider shredding them first. Dumpster diving is said to be a common way of stealing personal information. Buy shredders for your home or office and ensure that you destroy any paperwork that contain personal details before you discard them. This includes credit, statements, mail, and even receipts.
Considering those tips above can help you avoid identity theft. Implementing them on your daily routine will allow you to save your personal information from this growing crime.
Download the PDF of this article here Tips to Avoid Identity Theft