Freeze!

Freeze!

Social Security numbers are the one thing (besides your fingerprint, of course) that is specific to YOU, and you should guard your number very carefully.  Social Security numbers are actually sold on the black market, sometimes more than once by devious individuals to other devious individuals.  Never carry your, your child’s, or your elderly parent’s Social Security cards or numbers with you.  Keep them locked in a secure location – not your underwear drawer!  If thieves break into your home, one of the first places they’ll look for valuables is your underwear drawer.  Never put your Social Security number on your checks, either printed by the check company or written by you or a check-out person. 

No doubt you’ve seen ads or heard commercials for Life Lock or other identity theft protection companies selling their services.  While most of these are good companies, they do come with a monthly or annual charge.  Did you know the State of Indiana offers a free service to Indiana residents called a “Credit Freeze?” (http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2411.htm) You can place a freeze on your credit to prevent someone else from getting a loan or credit card in your name.  (Remember to remove the freeze if you need to get a home or car loan!)

If you are notified of a security breach by a company with whom you do business, call one of the credit reporting agencies and place a “Fraud Alert” on your name.  The first agency you call will inform the other two agencies.  If someone tries to access your information, the credit reporting companies will contact you. (www.alerts.equifax.com; www.experian.com/fraud; www.transunion.com)

As a form of ongoing maintenance of your credit, you may access your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies freeevery 12 months (https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp).  One way to keep an eye on your credit report throughout the year rather than once a year is to check your credit report with Equifax one month, wait four months, check your credit report with Experian, wait four months, and check your credit report with Trans Union.  Start over four months later with Equifax, lather, rinse, repeat!

Next time we’ll learn about some scams that deceitful people have been running lately.

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