Protecting Your Biggest Asset: You and Your Identity
As consumers, we must be proactive in protecting ourselves against fraud and other types of illegal actions. There are many predators preying on the opportunity to obtain your personal information in order to commit fraud. Protecting your identity and your personal information is extremely important. If your information gets into the wrong hands, it can affect your financial growth for many years. Incorrect information appearing on your credit report can possibly prevent you from obtaining a job that you applied for or impact your ability to obtain a loan.
Focus on not only protecting yourself, but also protecting your loved ones, like your elderly parents and other seniors in your family who are often targeted by predators under the guise of obtaining their medical information. Our children also need protection, as they are targeted for their personal information like their social security numbers and birth dates. This information should be kept safe at all times as it can be used to steal their identity. The Internet is inundated with individuals, who are stationed throughout this entire world, and are looking to obtain personal information to cause fraud by stealing ones identity. Not watching your credit and not being careful when you supply your personal information to someone can be very detrimental. Your personal information should not be unimportant to you and blasted throughout the Internet.
While some companies will tell you that they will never ask for your personal information, like your social security or bank account numbers, there are others that do request this information. If you are using an Internet website that requests this information, check to make sure the site is secure. If you’re still unsure, utilize websites like Rip-Off Reports to see if anyone has filed a claim against the company you are handing your information over to. Chances are, if the company is illegitimate, or involved in some type of fraud, someone else has probably filed a claim. Be extremely careful when you are solicited for your personal information even if the company looks legit.
It is very difficult to prove to creditors as well as to the credit bureaus that a debt does not belong to you and that you have been a victim of fraud. Creditors will contact you to obtain payments for the debt you owe. When it comes to owing creditors, there are some restrictions for how creditors are to contact you (even if this debt does actually belong to you). The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), recently issued bulletins addressing debt collection and unfair and deceptive acts or practices.
The bureau imposed the principals of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) for creditors.
Debt that appears on your credit reports can be disputed. I recommend that you check your credit report at least once a year to confirm that the information appearing on your report is correct. You are entitled to receive a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) once a year. To obtain your credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
It is not an easy task to manage your finances or to monitor your credit, but the efforts are worth it in the long term. Keeping a close watch on your personal information will not only make life better for you, but will ultimately help you to increase your financial growth in more ways than you can imagine.