February 2, 2010
Credit reports in the UK are also called credit reference files. Credit Reference Agencies in the UK give potential lenders your credit information so that they can decide if you’re a good risk for lending money.
The addresses of the credit reference agencies are:Equifax Plc
Credit File Advice Centre
PO Box 1140
www.equifax.co.uk Call Credit Plc
Consumer Services Team
PO Box 491
0870 060 1414
http://www.callcreditcheck.com/ Experian Ltd
Customer Support Centre
PO Box 8000
0844 481 8000
July 13, 2009
Identity theft never stops. Does your social networking page look something like this:
Hi, my name is Mary Sunshine. My birthday is 7/13/2009 and I was born in Podunk, Alabama. I have a dog named Sassafrass. I hope everyone will become my new friend."
Now what could be wrong with writing something like that? How could an identity thief possibly get your personal information from stuff this innocent?
Congress recently passed legislation that approved the use of the last four digits of your social security number on public documents. Now that may seem harmless until you realize that knowing where someone was born and their birthdate are great clues to figuring out the first five digits of your social security number. As a matter of fact, researchers have been able to accurately guess the first 5 digits about 40% of the time. And now our legislators have handed the last piece of the puzzle to thieves on a silver plate.
The other dangerous bit of information you’ve volunteered is your dog’s name. I hope that you’re not one of those people who use their dog’s name for a password – for email, online banking, etc. I know several people who do – they use it for ALL their passwords because they don’t like to think of something harder. Hey, I even remember an episode of Stargate where our ‘hero’ guessed the ‘villlians’ password by using his dog’s name. It’s that commonly done.
The internet is not a happy playground where everyone gets along and loves each other. It’s full of people with no conscience who will gladly steal anything they can get their hands on – especially if it involves little risk to themselves. Identity theft is the perfect crime for them because the odds of being caught are small. The odds of being convicted are even smaller. There’s a big payday for identity thieves without any repercussions.
Think twice before you give out so much information on social networking sites. Keep your identity safe!
November 13, 2007
I hope you’re reading this before your wallet or purse is stolen. If you are, follow the steps below to keep danger of identity theft to a minimum.
- Don’t carry your social security card
- Carry only one credit card – make a copy of both sides and keep in a safe place at home
- Make a list of membership cards you carry – include account numbers and contact info
- Make a copy of your insurance card – both sides – keep in a safe place at home
- Don’t write your PIN number on your ATM or debit card – don’t write it on anything else in your wallet either
If you’ve lost your wallet or purse, you need to immediately take steps to minimize the damage.
- File a Police Report – important. This proves the date, time and location of the theft or loss.
- Lost Driver’s License – contact the DMV of your state and report it.
- Contact your bank – report stolen ATM or debit card. If you had your checkbook in your purse, get a stop payment on the range of check numbers you were carrying. There will probably be a fee for this but you won’t be liable for any unauthorized checks that were written. Consider closing that account and opening a new one. Remember to change any payments that are on automatic withdrawals.
- Change PIN numbers
- Social Security Card – report stolen or lost card to the Social Security Administration fraud hotline at 1-800-772-1213
- Put a Fraud Alert on your credit report – contact any of the credit bureaus and request a fraud alert. It will need to be renewed every 90 days. TransUnion – 800-680-7289 – Equifax – 800-525-6285 – Experian – 888-397-3742
- Contact your credit card companies – you can find your account numbers and Customer Service numbers on your credit card statements. Report loss or theft and request a new account number.
- Insurance Card – request a new card – report old one as lost or stolen
- Membership Cards – Contact any places you have a membership with like a library card, gym, country club, etc. Let them know of the loss/theft and get a new card.
- House keys – have your door locks rekeyed or install new ones
- Car Keys – get a locksmith or car dealership to rekey your car locks.
- Cell Phone – call your cell provider immediately. You’ll be responsible for calls until you report it lost or stolen.
- Credit Monitoring – sign up for credit monitoring or an identity theft protection service. Compare these services here.
- Order your credit report – if you don’t use a credit monitoring service, get your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. Wait a month after the theft to get one because it will take that long to show up on your report.
November 11, 2007
All those pre-approved credit card offers you get in the mail can be more than just junk mail. They are a favorite way identity thieves get accounts in your name.
Most of us really wouldn’t even think of dumpster diving for anything let alone papers. But it’s a common way thieves get their info to steal identities.
Sure, you can shred them. That’s really important. If you don’t have a shredder, get out your scissors.
Here’s some ways thieves can get those pre-approved offers even if you’re diligent about shredding everything:
- Thieves will sometimes steal out of mailboxes while you’re at work or school.
- Your mail can be sent to your old address
- Your mail can be delivered to the wrong address
The safest way to deal with this is to opt-out of all pre-approved offers.
- Online: https://www.optoutprescreen.com
- Phone: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)
You’ll need to do this every 5 years. You’ll be glad you did, trust me.
If you decide you want to opt-in and get the offers again, use the same website of phone number. Card companies will be happy to put you back on their list.
October 15, 2007
Identity theft has finally started getting the attention it’s been begging for. As people become more aware of this crime, they’ve brought pressure on politicians and the credit reporting agencies to make changes. In the past, every state had their own laws regulating security freezes. On November 1, 2007, everyone can put a security freeze on their credit report.
What’s the difference between a security freeze and a fraud alert?
A security freeze completely shuts off anyone from opening new credit in your name – even you. The freeze makes it impossible for anyone to access your credit report. It stays in place until you remove it. You have to freeze your credit with all three credit reporting agencies at a cost of $10 each. To get the freeze temporarily removed, it’s another $10 each. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you can get a credit freeze for no charge. The fees vary by state, but $10 is the most common.
A fraud alert allows you to take out new credit or to let someone check your credit. The way it provides protection for you is this – you will receive a confirmation phone call at the number you gave before a new credit account can be opened. A fraud alert lasts for 90 days. To keep one in place, you’ll need to renew it quarterly. The cost for this is nothing – it’s free.
How to freeze your credit report
- Send a letter to each credit reporting agency requesting the freeze – preferrably a certified letter
Include your name, address, Social Security Number.
Include a check or provide a credit card number and expiration date to pay for the fees.
Provide proof of residence such as your driver’s license, student ID card, utility bill, etc.
You’ll receive a PIN number – keep that safe and somewhere where you can find it later
To remove or thaw the freeze, write to all three credit reporting agencies requesting the freeze be removed. You’ll need your PIN for this.
It can take three business days or more after receipt of your letter for the freeze to be removed. If you lost your PIN, it can take even longer.
Because it can take a while to freeze and unfreeze your credit, it’s best to use this if you know you won’t be applying for any new credit, getting a new job or moving in the near future.
How to place a fraud alert
Placing a fraud alert is considerably easier than a freeze. All you have to do is call one of the credit reporting agencies and request a fraud alert be placed on your file. Whichever credit agency you call will notify the other two agencies so that they can update you in their files.
A fraud alert will prevent you from getting instant credit which is usually offered at stores. An offer for instant credit usually sounds like this, "If you sign up for our Visa card today, you’ll get 10% off your purchases." Instant credit is an identity thief’s favorite kind.
The method you choose to protect yourself depends on your circumstances at the moment. Either one works well. Neither of them will have any effect on your credit score.
September 28, 2007
Here are the Three Credit Reporting Agencies
| Equifax Credit Information Services
PO Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348
PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013-2002
Consumer Relations Center
PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
800-888-4213 OR 440-779-7200
If you are an identity theft victim, use the info below to contact the fraud departments.