Secure Money Matters
Ruth Okin, MBA, DMM
 
Maintaining independent
lifestyles...with discretion.

Yesterday one of my clients told me that there had been a credit card breech on one of their MasterCards. Their card had to be closed  and  a replacement  ordered. Luckily for them, the credit card company noticed unusual activity and notified  them right away,  before any serious harm occurred. This resulted in the  lengthy process of calling every company who was auto-debiting their account.
While making those calls, I heard a story from one of their  business associates who had had their identity stolen. They said someone was able to use their social security number to  open up multiple lines of credit and then purchase over $56,000 worth of merchandise. 
 
It seems we hear stories like this all too frequently.
 
So how can we protect  ourselves? 
Here are two lines of protection that are very effective and simple to set up:
 
 
1. Place a Fraud Alert on your credit file. Doing so alerts lenders and others that they should take special precautions to ensure your identity before extending credit. When you place a Fraud Alert, you can provide a mobile or other phone number so lenders can contact you to verify that the party applying for credit is actually you, not a fraudster.
 
You can place a Fraud Alert by notifying any one  the three major credit reporting companies. They will notify  the other two and a fraud alert will also be placed on those files, too. An Initial Fraud alert lasts for 90 days and may be renewed. 
 
 
2. For even greater protection you can place a Security Freeze on your credit. This  prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit. Setting this up requires contacting all three credit bureaus. 
 
Although this provides much greater protection, when you wish to apply for any type of credit, you will have to take special steps to temporarily remove it.
 
The 3 credit bureaus are: Equifax www.equifax.com/,  Experian www.experian.com/, and  Transunion www.transunion.com/
 
 
Secure Money Matters