Hi friends and welcome back! Hope all are getting ready for this Memorial Day Holiday weekend! If travelling, as they said on “Hill Street Blues”, “…be careful out there!”
First of all, let’s take a moment to pause and give thanks to those who gave their lives for the freedom that we, today, have and take for granted and that many of those around the world, envy!
Now for the topic on hand…a few months ago, I opened my American Express statement and found out that I had purchased not one but, two cases of wine in a liquor store located in MAINE, on two separate occasions! “I bought what?!! Close to $800.00 was charged to my account! (At least it must have been a good wine and not some cheap stuff that I wouldn’t enjoy!) I am in Texas and Maine is not the place I would go to buy wine! Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with Maine, I just wouldn’t go there to buy wine! Well, it seems that my card was hacked! Called AmEx right away and after a few minutes of convincing the customer service rep that I had the card with me and NO, I haven’t been to Maine lately, (or ever, if you must know) the situation was resolved and my account corrected.
This has happened before and will, undoubtedly, happen again some day. But, what is really scary is that when filing our 2015 tax return, the IRS notified me that a return had already been filed in Maggie’s name and with her social security number! Now, they had my attention! After much correspondence to include verification of identity, which included copies of her passport, social security card Maggie’s Nationalization papers (yes, she is legal) and a bunch of phone calls, this was also resolved. The process took a couple of months of back and forth jousting but, now we must file using a “secret” code number on our return to verify that, we are who we say we are!
What I am attempting to say here is that, our age group is probably the subject of more identity theft occurrences above all others. This does not include all of the data breaches on Yahoo, Wells Fargo Bank, CVS and even American Express, which encompasses their entire clientele. So, how do we protect ourselves from this data crime? To be honest, maybe not totally protect but, at least try to “safeguard” our information that may be already out there from prying eyes. Let’s start with this…
- If you ever lose your wallet that may contain your credit cards, license and even your Social security card, call the credit card companies, your bank and then the police. (No, not Sting!) Then, call the credit report agencies and set up a free fraud alert. If anyone attempts to open a line of credit, the “lender” will contact you before proceeding. The reporting agencies (Experian – 1-888-397-3742, Equifax – 1-888-766-0008 and Transunion – 1-800-680-7289) can give you more information on this.
- Obtain a free Credit Report (www.annualcreditreport.com) and review for any obvious errors such as: addresses you never lived at, employment history, loans, any credit accounts you have not opened and other financial information that does not pertain to you. Report these immediately. And…
- If you really want to get serious…set up a “credit freeze” with the reporting bureaus. This will “lock” down your credit report so your creditors will not be able to see it. No available credit report, No new credit account! Again, contact the reporting agencies for more info.
If by any chance you become a victim of identity theft, it can be resolved! It’s definitely not easy and may take months or even years but, knowing how to take steps in order to make it harder to access your info, will make it harder for the hacker as well.
Note: Identity theft has no age restrictions! As soon as you are issued a credit report, you are fair game to the low life’s out there! So beware and take care of your info.
I guess this info will give you a head start on protecting your information. Oh, and one more thing! If by any chance, you see a small charge to your bank account say, $2.00 or $3.00, check with the bank to see what that is all about! It just might be someone sneaking into your cash assuming that you will just accept it as “some type of bank charge”, and is just waiting for the opportune time to “hit” you a bit harder!
At a later date, I’ll go into some scams and frauds that are going on that, just might save you some aggravation and cash! Especially, for that age group that is above ours!
As always, your feedback and comments are welcomed. Remember, this blog is for you!
Take care and see you again soon at “The Over 50 Corner”.