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8/14/2014

Protect Your Assets and Credit from Hackers

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PROTECT YOUR CREDIT AND ASSETS from HACKERS

Your social security number should be kept private. The easiest way for a criminal to steal a social security number from you is by going through your trash. Mail sometimes has your number, name, address and account numbers.
Reduce the amount of mail that comes to your home. 
Throw away junk mail in your recycle bin, envelopes and items that are not credit card, brokerage, or asset related. All asset related items should be shredded and separated half in the recycle and half somewhere else.
Pay your utility bills by auto pay online.
Opt out of junk mail and soft credit offers.  HERE is link: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/opt_form.cgi  
My eighty two year old mother has been a victim twice. I reviewed her habits and we came up with a plan to change. Mom likes the comfort of receiving stock statements and saves some for ten years. This information is available without keeping all that paper in her garage. I took the statements and scanned them and put on labeled CD's that she keeps in a secure place. Then I shredded the three boxes and discarded a third in the recycle, a third into my office shredder and kept a third to discard the next week. Seven years ago her brokerage accounts had her social and the full account numbers prominently printed on each page. It wasn't quite as easy to convince her to change her habit of paying for gas with a card at the pump. She doesn't like to carry a pile of twenties in her small wallet. She even dangerous used stand alone ATM machines which are often skimmed. Solution was to open a checking account at a bank down the street whereby she could easily walk up (during the daytime) and withdraw a hundred dollars, and the account doesn't have a large balance. Inconvenient, yes, but she hasn't had the problem occur again.

TIPS: 
Don’t close your existing accounts, that can lower your FICO score. 
Look at the monthly bills and mid month look at the charges online. 
I suggest you DO NOT signup for any service that monitors your credit. DO Not pay for any service that runs your credit every month. This is another source of possible fraud.
There are many ways bad guys can get your information.
Superhero Captain Credit Saver at the Turkey Trot in Dana Point

·         Never give out your social security number to any third-party unless you know they need it (e.g. a credit application or mortgage loan). Medical offices should not be using your social as I. D.
·         Before handing over your social security number to any company, ask if it will ever appear on a document they send you in the mail. Also find out how it is securely stored on their servers so it will be protected in case of a hack. All systems can be hacked (Target is an example, and many banks don't publicly report being hacked.)
·         Avoid entering your social security number online unless you are absolutely sure you're on a secure connection and dealing with a company you trust. If you're not, call them to verify or don't do it.

·         Set up activity alerts on your accounts. Most bank and credit card online accounts let you set text or email alerts for activity, such as charges over a certain limit.
·         DO NOT USE BILL GUARD, CREDIT SESAME, FREE CREDIT REPORT.com, Mint, Life lock, TRUSTD IDnone of these services are there to protect you. They hold your information in the cloud, on paper and are just as likely to be hacked as anyone else. Some guy in Kazakhstan and Mongolia will be able to get in with your user name and password tomorrow.
·         DO NOT USE A CREDIT CARD OR DEBIT CARD EVER AGAIN AT SHELL and CHEVRON gas pumps. Perhaps all gas stations are targets of the Armenian Mafia and organized crime in India and elsewhere. CHEVRON and SHELL will tell you a bogus story about how they have identification bar code tape covering the computer box on every pump thus preventing skimmers. This is a joke. The criminals can get your debit code password by a remote camera and the electronic strip on the card is duplicated sometimes thousands of times. Use cash at gas stations. IF you MUST use a card, pay inside. The register inside the store is manned by a person, and assuming they aren’t the gangster at least there is some protection from skimming your card.
    If you use a debit card, NEVER leave a large balance sitting in the debit account. Don’t choose overdraft protection. Transfer small amounts from savings or deposit small checks as needed.
·         CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS.
    Don't carry your social security card in your wallet
IF you have been compromised:
Notify the police and FTC, and keep the report
Notify your banks, credit card companies, the IRS and social security office IN WRITING and call.
Putting a fraud alert on your credit with Trans Union, CBI and Equifax will slow down a thief but it doesn’t stop the pretty teenager at Bloomingdales from opening a fraudulent $1000 line for the criminal to buying a Chloe purse and then return it for cash.
Identity theft is painful, messy and time consuming. It can crash your FICO score and make it difficult to get a mortgage.
As always I am happy to answer your questions and help you fix your FICO for free.


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