identity theft http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/116/all en-US What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/identity_theft.jpg" alt="Identity Theft" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You lost your Social Security card. Any time personal information goes missing, it can be unnerving. How big of a problem is this, exactly?</p> <p>The card itself is not much of one. Replacing a lost Social Security card is free and relatively simple. The bigger worry is what happens if your Social Security <em>number</em> falls into the wrong hands, and criminals use it to steal your identity. Then, you have a problem.</p> <p>You can reduce the odds of trouble by acting quickly. Follow this fast plan if you've lost your Social Security card.</p> <h2>Protecting your identity</h2> <p>To understand whether someone has stolen your Social Security number, keep a close watch on your credit reports. Thieves could use your Social Security number to apply for new credit cards in your name, racking up debt without you even realizing. This could send your credit score tumbling. You might also start receiving calls from angry creditors wondering why you haven't paid your bills.</p> <p>The best way to determine if someone is illegally using your Social Security number is to order copies of your credit reports from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action" target="_blank">AnnualCreditReport.com</a>. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus &mdash; Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion &mdash; each year. Once you have your reports, study them carefully. Look for new lines of credit taken out in your name that you know you never applied for.</p> <p>If you do suspect someone is using your Social Security number illegally, visit <a href="http://www.identitytheft.gov" target="_blank">IdentityTheft.gov</a>, a website run by the Federal Trade Commission, to report the theft. You can also file an online complaint with the <a href="https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx" target="_blank">Internet Crime Complaint Center</a>.</p> <p>It's important to also report the theft to either <a href="https://www.alerts.equifax.com/AutoFraud_Online/jsp/fraudAlert.jsp?_ga=1.38645931.963795184.1492791088" target="_blank">Equifax</a>, <a href="https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html" target="_blank">Experian</a>, or&nbsp;<a href="https://fraud.transunion.com/fa/fraudAlert/landingPage.jsp" target="_blank">TransUnion</a>. The credit bureau will place a fraud alert on your credit report, and will also notify the other two bureaus so that they will do the same.</p> <p>Next, <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-protection" target="_blank">contact the IRS</a>. This will keep identity thieves from filing a tax return in your name and then collecting a refund that is owed to you.</p> <h2>A simple fix if there's no evidence of identity theft</h2> <p>If you want a new Social Security card, you may be able to apply for a replacement on the <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/" target="_blank">Social Security Administration's website</a>. Replacements are free. First, you'll need to create a mySocialSecurity account. You must be a U.S. citizen who is 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address. You must also have a driver's license or state-issued ID from one of the following 18 places: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin.</p> <p>If you don't meet the criteria for an online application, you can submit an <a href="https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf" target="_blank">application for a replacement card</a> in person or by mail to your local Social Security office. You'll need to provide your U.S. driver's license, state-issued nondriver identification card, or U.S. passport.</p> <p>You can apply for a maximum of three new Social Security cards a year, and a maximum of 10 during your lifetime.</p> <h2>What if you're a victim of identity theft?</h2> <p>If you have evidence that someone else is using your Social Security number, you can request a new Social Security number from the Social Security Administration. Just be sure you can actually prove that someone is using your number and that this use is harming you. If you can't provide evidence of this, you won't be given a new Social Security number.</p> <p>For example, your evidence could be a credit report listing several credit cards that you've never applied for. Or, evidence could be a letter from the IRS informing you that your income tax filings were rejected because someone else already filed them.</p> <p>If you suspect someone is using your number, call the Social Security Administration fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.</p> <p>To prevent your Social Security number from falling into the wrong hands, don't carry your card with you. There is absolutely no reason to keep your Social Security card in your wallet. Instead, keep it in a safe-deposit box, at home, or in another secure location. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clear-old-debt-from-your-credit-report">How to Clear Old Debt From Your Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-excellent-credit">5 Steps to Getting Excellent Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit reports credit unions identity theft IRS lost missing replacements social security card social security number ssa ssn Wed, 31 May 2017 09:00:11 +0000 Dan Rafter 1955703 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Times Your Credit Card Has Your Back http://www.wisebread.com/12-times-your-credit-card-has-your-back <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-times-your-credit-card-has-your-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-635966572.jpg" alt="Woman learning times her credit card has her back" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many of us view credit cards as much more than just a way to pay for things. They can help us accrue miles and status in rewards programs, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-with-free-airport-lounge-access?ref=internal" target="_blank">get us into airport lounges</a>, and even help us snag hard-to-get theater reservations.</p> <p>But did you know that calling your credit card company can be like calling your dad when things go wrong? Glitzy perks like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-do-the-concierge-services-from-credit-cards-really-provide?ref=internal" target="_blank">concierge service</a> get most of the attention, but the perks that kick in when things go wrong may actually be the most valuable. Let's look at services some credit cards offer when you're in an accident, have a problem with a purchase, or are facing other dire straits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-credit-card-perks-you-didnt-know-about?ref=seealso" target="_blank">14 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn't Know About</a>)</p> <p>(As you might imagine, credit cards place restrictions on all of these benefits, such as per-claim and per-year reimbursement ceilings. If you need access to one of these benefits, consult your card agreement and/or call customer service.)</p> <h2>1. Return protection</h2> <p>You buy a beautiful rug. When you get it home, you realize it's way too big for your room. Now the retailer won't take it back. What do you do?</p> <p>If you're using a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-return-items-through-your-credit-card-if-the-store-refuses?ref=internal" target="_blank">card with return protection</a>, you can file a claim and get reimbursed for some or all of the purchase. One typical limitation: no holiday decorations (so don't even think about returning your Christmas tree in January).</p> <h2>2. Extended warranty</h2> <p>You buy a grandfather clock with a one-year warranty. As your luck would have it, 53 weeks later, the thing stops working. If you purchased it with a card that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-free-extended-warranties-work-on-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">offers extended warranty coverage</a>, any repairs covered under the original warranty may now be paid for by your credit card's extended protection. Make sure to call the card issuer before you pay for any repairs.</p> <h2>3. Purchase security</h2> <p>You buy a new bike, and the next day, it's stolen! Your homeowners insurance won't help, since the cost of a replacement is lower than your deductible. Are you out of luck? Maybe not.</p> <p>If you bought the bike with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-credit-cards-protect-your-purchases-from-damage-or-theft?ref=internal" target="_blank">card that offers purchase security</a>, and you submit all the required documentation, you could get reimbursed for the stolen bike. Besides theft, purchase security can cover damage due to fires, plumbing leaks, vandalism, and a number of other threats. Most cards require you to file the claim within a certain window &mdash; generally within 90 days of the incident.</p> <h2>4. Price protection</h2> <p>This has got to be one of the most underutilized protections that credit cards offer. Make a mental note to save all of your receipts and try it this year!</p> <p>You splurge on new TV. A month later, you see the same TV advertised for hundreds of dollars less. Instead of throwing the remote at the screen, call up the credit card you used to buy it and ask if they offer <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-price-match-through-your-credit-card?ref=internal" target="_blank">price protection</a>, which could get you a full or partial refund of the price difference, subject to per-item and annual limits. One typical restriction is that the lower price must appear in a printed ad, not just online.</p> <h2>5. Travel insurance</h2> <p>You are planning to fly your family to Paris, but your daughter breaks her leg and you have to cancel at the last minute. The tickets are nonrefundable. If you purchased them with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-types-of-travel-insurance-credit-cards-include-that-you-didnt-know-about?ref=internal" target="_blank">card offering travel insurance</a>, the policy might reimburse you for the flights you can't use.</p> <p>The same policies might also provide a lump-sum payment if you are injured (or killed) on the trip, as well as also cover the expense of buying new clothes or belongings if your bag arrives a few days later than you do. Some policies will even replace baggage that's permanently lost.</p> <p>Restrictions abound. I recently tried to use this coverage when I had to cancel an Airbnb stay due to an Amtrak delay (which was in turn due to flooding). The agent at my credit card company told me their policy would only cover airline tickets or fees, not lodging. However, other cards state that they cover the cost of lost tours and lodging as well as airfare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-premium-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Best Premium Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>6. Roadside assistance</h2> <p>Like with AAA, a card that offers this benefit may dispatch someone to your house to jump start your car, or they may tow you from the side of the highway to the nearest repair shop. Check the fine print; there may be limitations on how far they will tow you or how many times a year you can use the service for free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-for-road-trips?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards for Road Trips</a>)</p> <h2>7. Rental car damage waiver</h2> <p>Many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-does-car-rental-insurance-really-cover-on-your-credit-card?ref=internal" target="_blank">credit cards offer rental car insurance</a>. If you're paying for a rental in full using one of these credit cards, you can decline the damage waiver offered by the rental company.</p> <p>With this perk, your credit card's rental coverage is secondary to your personal auto insurance. For example, let's say you are in such a hurry to get on the road in your rented PT Cruiser that you accidentally drive right through the exit gate, causing thousands of dollars in damage to the car. If you used a card that offers a collision damage waiver, you'll first need to file a claim with your auto insurer. From there, your card may cover the deductible as well as any fees the rental car company charged. Your auto insurance will pay the rest.</p> <p>If you don't have personal auto insurance, any credit card that offers secondary coverage will become primary, and should cover the whole cost of an accident. It's extra important to note restrictions in this case, since the out-of-pocket costs for anything the service doesn't cover could be really high. There may be limits on how long of a rental period this covers, as well as on the kind of vehicle it covers or even the countries you are covered in. Most importantly, these policies don't cover personal injury or liability, so you'll need to purchase some kind of liability coverage as well.</p> <h2>8. Primary rental car insurance</h2> <p>A few cards offer this benefit, which is better than the standard collision damage waiver because it acts as a primary auto insurance policy for your rental car. This means that if you swerve to avoid a wombat on your Australian vacation and accidentally total the Holden Caprice you rented, you don't have to file a claim with your auto insurance. This could save you on rates in the future.</p> <h2>9. Airline fee credits</h2> <p>I've made some very expensive mistakes booking air travel. One time, when calling an airline to ask if I could change a flight because I'd booked the wrong day, I found out that the change fee was more than the cost of the ticket. If I had booked the flight using a card that reimburses me for airline fees, the ticket might have been salvageable. Instead, I had to abandon it and buy a new, more expensive ticket.</p> <p>This benefit typically comes with cards that have higher annual fees, and has an annual limit, such as $200 in fee reimbursements each year. Besides change fees, they're typically good for other costs, such as baggage fees, airline lounge passes, and upgrades to seats with extra legroom. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-perks-you-didnt-know-your-credit-card-had?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Travel Perks You Didn't Know Your Credit Card Had</a>)</p> <h2>10. Identity theft hotline</h2> <p>If your credit card offers this service, you can call for help if you're ever a victim of this obnoxious crime. Typical services include sending you the form you need to file with the credit bureaus, having the credit bureaus place an alert on your account, and providing you with form letters you can use to cancel checks or other accounts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards that Offer Free Credit Scores</a>)</p> <h2>11. Assistance in a travel emergency</h2> <p>You're in another country. You don't speak the language. You wake up in the middle of the night with unbearable stomach pains. What do you do?</p> <p>If you hold a card that offers travel assistance, you can call their international hotline, where they may direct you to the nearest appropriate hospital, and get a translator or U.S. doctor on the phone if necessary. They may even arrange for money to be wired to you, or send messages home to your family. If the emergency is of a legal nature, they can connect you to a lawyer &mdash; or a bail bond provider, if necessary. They're not going to pay for your doctor or lawyer or post your bail, but they can make the connection.</p> <h2>12. Trip delay reimbursement</h2> <p>The first leg of your international trip goes fine, but when you arrive at the gate in Taipei, you find out that your flight to Beijing is canceled until tomorrow. The airline offers no hotel vouchers. Where are you supposed to stay, on the terminal floor?</p> <p>Good news: If you booked the trip with a card that offers trip delay coverage, your hotel and meals may be a reimbursable expense.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-times-your-credit-card-has-your-back">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-picking-the-best-airline-credit-card-for-the-most-rewards-value">5 Steps to Picking the Best Airline Credit Card for the Most Rewards Value</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-reasons-to-always-use-your-credit-card">4 Surprising Reasons to Always Use Your Credit Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-airline-or-travel-rewards-credit-cards-the-better-deal">Are Airline or Travel Rewards Credit Cards the Better Deal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-annual-fees">Best Credit Cards With Annual Fees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/comparing-miles-which-airline-loyalty-program-is-better">Which Airline Loyalty Program Has the Best Value for Their Miles?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards benefits extended warranty identity theft miles perks price match protections purchase protection reimbursements rewards travel insurance Fri, 05 May 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1940326 at http://www.wisebread.com Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_scared_internet_511483528.jpg" alt="Woman learning to stop making password mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Elaborate passwords are a necessity in today's internet-obsessed world. Unfortunately, too many of us still rely on simple passwords that make us easy targets for hackers.</p> <p>A study by the online security provider Preempt found that <a href="https://blog.preempt.com/weak-passwords" target="_blank">35 percent of LinkedIn users</a> have exceptionally weak passwords that pose no challenge to hackers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a>)</p> <p>Want to boost your online security and keep your personal information safe from hackers? Then here are some key password mistakes to avoid.</p> <h2>1. You use the same password across various accounts</h2> <p>This is one of the biggest password mistakes too many of us make. We reuse passwords from site to site. It doesn't matter how complex these passwords are &mdash; whether they are an incomprehensible mess of lowercase letters, numbers, and uppercase letters. If you are using the same password at multiple sites, you are vulnerable. A hacker only has to crack this password once to access several of your accounts.</p> <h2>2. Your password is all numbers or all letters</h2> <p>One of the easiest ways to make your password more challenging to crack? Use a wide variety of characters, numbers, lowercase letters, uppercase letters, and even symbols such as your keyboard's dollar sign and asterisk.</p> <p>Never make your password all letters or all numbers. These are some of the easiest passwords to guess.</p> <h2>3. You don't mix up where you put those numbers</h2> <p>Maybe you take the next step and you do put numbers and letters in your password. Where you put those numbers matters, however. Too many of us simply put a string of numbers at the front or at the end of our passwords. If you want to create a stronger password, sprinkle numbers throughout it, and don't simply bunch them all together. Also, don't use obvious numbers, such as your street address, the year you were born, or the years during which your children were born.</p> <h2>4. You rely on short passwords</h2> <p>It's difficult to remember long, complicated passwords. But such passwords are also more difficult to crack. Don't create a password that's too short. Online security experts have different opinions on this, but keep your passwords at least 12 characters long, and you'll be a lot better off. The longer your password, the more work hackers have to do to guess it. Many might give up and go after less difficult passwords.</p> <h2>5. You follow well-known patterns</h2> <p>You might think you've created a complex password, one filled with letters, numbers, and symbols. But if your password follows certain well-known patterns, hackers can crack it with little effort, relying on password-cracking programs.</p> <p>Security consultant KoreLogic in 2014 studied the users at an anonymous Fortune 100 company. It found that about half of the users relied on five patterns to create their passwords. KoreLogic discovered, too, that 85 percent of the users at this company relied on just 100 common password patterns.</p> <p>What are the three most common patterns that KoreLogic uncovered? Users relied on one uppercase, five lowercase and then two digits, such as Pdregt45. They also relied on one uppercase letter, six lowercase letters and two digits, such as Tjiktrg39, and one uppercase letter, three lowercase letters and four digits, such as Pewy1476.</p> <p>When creating passwords, then, avoid these most common of patterns. Your password might seem perfectly random to you. Hackers won't see it the same way.</p> <h2>6. You start your password with an uppercase letter</h2> <p>Mixing upper- and lowercase letters in your passwords is a good idea. But don't start your password with an uppercase letter and then follow it with a string of letters that are all lowercase. Instead, randomly capitalize letters throughout your passwords.</p> <h2>7. You aren't careful with exclamation marks</h2> <p>Some sites might require passwords that include not just letters and numbers, but at least one symbol, too. Adding symbols can dramatically increase the complexity of your password. Just don't fulfill the symbol requirement by putting an exclamation point at the very end of your password. Too many users already do that, and it makes cracking your password an easier task.</p> <h2>8. You always place numbers next to each other, no matter where you put them</h2> <p>So, you avoid the common mistake of putting numbers only at the beginning and end of your passwords. That's good. But don't place numbers next to each other, either. Users have the habit of bunching numbers together in their passwords, no matter where they put them. This is another common mistake that makes your passwords easier to hack.</p> <h2>How to manage all these passwords</h2> <p>Following all the above tips poses one big problem: How are you supposed to remember all these random and long strings of numbers, letters, and characters?</p> <p>One way is to use a password manager, like LastPass, Dashlane, or 1Password. This allows you to store your passwords through their encrypted and secure system, so when you visit a site, your login credentials will be saved and you can login without needing to remember your password. Unless you have a superb memory or don&rsquo;t have very many online accounts, this is one of the safest ways to keep your passwords and have it easily accessible.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data">3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-your-auto-reply-email-telling-people-about-you">What Is Your Auto-Reply Email Telling People About You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/google-yourself-challenge-how-much-can-people-learn-about-you-online">Google Yourself Challenge: How Much Can People Learn About You Online?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Technology identity theft internet safety internet security login password protection passwords safe password Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Dan Rafter 1927496 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Easy Ways to Protect Your Identity http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-easy-ways-to-protect-your-identity <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-easy-ways-to-protect-your-identity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/identity_theft_protection_469750754.jpg" alt="Finding easy ways to protect your identity" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on easy ways to protect your identity, activities that will make you happier every day, and uses for baking soda in your home.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.easyways.net/10-easy-ways-protect-identity/">10 Easy Ways To Protect Your Identity</a> &mdash; Never carry important documents, like your passport or social security card, on your person or in your car. [easyWays]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Can-I-Feel-Happy-43012183">31 Activities That Will Make You Happier Every Day</a> &mdash; Inject happiness into your day by cuddling a pet, treating yourself to your favorite dessert, or planning your next adventure. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://commoncentsmom.com/2017/03/10-uses-baking-soda-home/">10 Uses for Baking Soda in Your Home</a> &mdash; Freshen your mattress by sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda over the top. Let is sit for a few hours, then remove the baking soda with a vacuum. [Common Cents Mom]</p> <p><a href="http://www.theorderexpert.com/ways-organize-pantry/">7 Easy Ways to Organize a Pantry</a> &mdash; Labeling the items in your pantry is a breeze when you reuse labels from existing packaging. Just cut out the labels from boxes, bags and packages, and tape onto the new storage containers. [The Order Expert]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2017/0305/UPS-is-testing-drone-deliveries-but-don-t-expect-to-see-one-soon">UPS is testing drone deliveries, but don't expect to see one soon</a> &mdash; Drone deliveries could help rural shoppers get their deliveries, but there are still many practical and legal issues that need to be addressed. [The Monitor]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/03/06/best-ways-fund-relationship-bank-account/">The Best Ways to Fund Your Relationship Bank Account</a> &mdash; One way to look at a relationship is to compare it to a bank account, where positive interactions are deposits and negative interactions are withdrawals. [The Art of Manliness]</p> <p><a href="https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/5-ways-to-conquer-stress-when-life-is-overwhelming-you/">5 Ways to Conquer Stress When Life is Overwhelming You</a> &mdash; Trying to meditate when you're stressed can cause even more frustration. Allow yourself to simply check in with your breathing and practice mindfulness throughout your day if meditation isn't working for you. [Pick The Brain]</p> <p><a href="https://timemanagementninja.com/2017/03/the-four-basic-time-management-tools-you-need/">The Four Basic Time Management Tools You Need</a> &mdash; Everyone should keep a calendar to track, plan, and schedule your time. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="http://www.productivesuperdad.com/work-life-balance-from-home/">5 Simple Ways to Find Work-Life Balance If You Are Working from Home</a> &mdash; You need to be the one that draws the line between work and life. If you want to keep both your clients and your family happy, keep dedicated work hours and life hours, and don't let them mix. [Productive Superdad]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/7-ways-to-deal-when-your-child-is-an-early-riser">7 Ways to Deal When Your Child Is an Early Riser</a> &mdash; Give your early riser a plan so they know what solo activities they can do while everyone else is still sleeping. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-easy-ways-to-protect-your-identity">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-you-must-immediately-do-after-losing-your-smartphone">8 Things You Must Immediately Do After Losing Your Smartphone</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-scams-and-cons-that-could-clean-you-out">The scams and cons that could clean you out.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/identity-theft">Identity Theft Prevention</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks best money tips identity theft Thu, 09 Mar 2017 15:13:13 +0000 Amy Lu 1905737 at http://www.wisebread.com 18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-629293194.jpg" alt="surprising ways your identity can be stolen" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people have already been victims of the most basic forms of identity theft &mdash; having fraudulent charges on your credit card. Those even less lucky have been victimized in more aggressive ways, with criminals obtaining medical care, working, and flying in our names.</p> <p>Unwinding that mess can take years and thousands of dollars. The effect is exacerbated by the fact that the crime doesn't generally stop with the one person who stole your information. Credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other data gets packaged and sold on the underground Internet so that different people all over the world could be impersonating you at the same time.</p> <p>&quot;It's a pain. It does cause a lot of stress,&quot; said Lindsay Bartsh, of San Rafael, California, who said that straightening out a web of fraudulent medical bills, flights, job applications, and credit applications took every minute of her free time for a year.</p> <p>How does it happen? Here's a look at both the most common ways thieves steal our data, as well as some of the newest ploys to watch out for.</p> <h2>1. Mail Theft</h2> <p>Bartsh believes this time-honored tactic is how her personal information got out into the criminal underworld. An expected W-2 tax form never arrived. Assuming it was stolen, it would have given thieves a wealth of information, such as Social Security number and workplace.</p> <h2>2. Database Hacks</h2> <p>When a large corporation gets hacked, the effect can be widespread. When the U.S. government's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/federal-eye/wp/2015/07/09/hack-of-security-clearance-system-affected-21-5-million-people-federal-authorities-say/?utm_term=.af013608cbff" target="_blank">Office of Personnel Management was breached</a>, some 22 million people had their personal information exposed. (I was one of the many who received a warning about this, because I had a writing contract with a government agency.)</p> <h2>3. Malicious Software</h2> <p>If you have a virus on your computer, you may suffer more than a slowdown or a system crash. Some malicious programs that spread as viruses record every keystroke you type, allowing thieves to find out your online banking username and password. These programs can infect your mobile phone as well as your computer.</p> <h2>4. Search Engine Poisoning</h2> <p>This is a sneaky way of tricking people into giving up their own personal data, or getting malicious software onto a person's computer. The criminals create a fake website similar to a real one, or that could plausibly be a real one.</p> <p>One tactic is for you to click through to the fake site and try to buy a product, entering your credit card or debit card number. Another way they try to get you is for you to unknowingly download information-stealing software onto your computer.</p> <p>Where does the search engine part come in? These criminals manipulate Google and other search engines' algorithms to get their phony sites ranked high in search listings, leading users to believe they must be legit. Fortunately, Google has made progress in preventing this in recent years, but it still happens.</p> <h2>5. Phishing</h2> <p>Phishing is a term that broadly means &quot;fishing&quot; for personal information through a variety of common social interactions &mdash; so-called &quot;social engineering.&quot; The most common phishing attack happens when you get an email that looks like it came from your bank or another legitimate company. It may come with an alarming subject line, such as &quot;overdraft warning&quot; or &quot;your order has shipped.&quot; When you click a link in the email, you may see a login screen identical to your normal login, which will trick you into entering your username and password. You could also be asked for more identifying details, such as Social Security number and account number.</p> <p>Fortunately, banks have put some countermeasures into place to fight phishing. You can also protect yourself by not responding directly to incoming messages. If you get an email that looks like it's from your bank, type your bank address into your browser instead of clicking the link, sign in, and check your account's message center. Or just call your bank's customer service number.</p> <h2>6. Phone Attacks</h2> <p>The Internal Revenue Service has been warning for several years that <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/scam-phone-calls-continue-irs-identifies-five-easy-ways-to-spot-suspicious-calls" target="_blank">scammers are calling people claiming to be the IRS</a>, either claiming that they have a refund due or owe money. Fishing for information via the phone is also known as &quot;vishing,&quot; as in, &quot;voice phishing.&quot;</p> <p>If they're taking the refund tactic, they'll probably ask for your bank account number or other personal info, supposedly in order to send you your refund. If they say you owe, they may ask for a credit or debit card number, or worse, try to get a payment in a way that's not traceable or refundable, like through a prepaid debit card.</p> <p>This kind of scam is also known as &quot;pretexting,&quot; and the really good scammers make it seem realistic by having some basic info about you on hand before they call, like your address and date of birth, which are pretty easy to find online.</p> <h2>7. Text Attacks</h2> <p>In another twist on phishing, &quot;smishing,&quot; or SMS phishing, sends you a text message encouraging you to click a link that will either trigger the download of malicious software or direct you to input personal information.</p> <h2>8. Fake Wi-Fi Hotspot</h2> <p>Also known as an &quot;evil twin&quot; hotspot, this is a Wi-Fi connection setup in a public place, like a cafe, with a name that leads you to believe it was provided by someone trustworthy, like the cafe owner. The evil twin Wi-Fi hotspot really connects you to the Internet, just like a legit connection. The difference is, the evil twin is provided by a hacker, who uses specialized software to eavesdrop on information you're sending out &mdash; like your bank password or Social Security number &mdash; or to direct you to a malicious website like those described above.</p> <p>When a hacker interrupts your attempt to access a legitimate website and steals the data you're trying to send, it's called a &quot;<a href="https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Man-in-the-middle_attack" target="_blank">man in the middle attack</a>.&quot;</p> <h2>9. Dumpster Diving</h2> <p>Another low-tech but very effective method is simply pawing through recycling bins, looking for discarded credit card offers, bills, medical records, and other paperwork that could have personal information on it. Not only can identity thieves hit you at home, they could also search dumpsters outside of medical offices, schools, and banks.</p> <h2>10. Workplace Theft</h2> <p>A U.S. Department of Justice survey of convicted identity thieves found that a third of them <a href="https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/219122.pdf" target="_blank">accessed victims' information through their jobs</a>. The criminals worked for mortgage companies or at government agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, where they had access to treasure troves of client information. Others lifted information from job applications.</p> <p>Back in 2000, just one guy was responsible for stealing 33,000 people's credit reports at his credit industry help desk job. He sold the reports to thieves who, according to news reports, used the information to steal up to $100 million.</p> <h2>11. Burglary</h2> <p>When someone breaks into your home or car, it may not be the loss of your jewelry, cash, or laptop that hurts the most. If they find your credit cards, Social security card, or tax returns &mdash; or get such information off a stolen computer &mdash; you could be in for severe identity theft.</p> <h2>12. Pickpocketing</h2> <p>Another old-fashioned crime that has thrived in the era of high-tech data theft, pickpocketing nowadays commonly leads directly to identity theft. In fact, a major ID theft ring busted 10 years ago targeted crowded events to steal wallets and convert the information inside to valuable dossiers of information, which they would later resell.</p> <h2>13. Mobile Phone Theft</h2> <p>If you have authorized your phone to make payments on your behalf, saved passwords for banking and retail sites, or saved other personal data on it, having the device stolen could cost you a lot more than the replacement cost. Phones that aren't password- or fingerprint-protected are most vulnerable.</p> <h2>14. Mobile Phone Account Hijacking</h2> <p>Another form of ID theft targeting phones happens when someone gets ahold of your account information and uses it to <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/identity-theft-mobile-phone" target="_blank">order a new phone or line</a>, with the bill going to you.</p> <h2>15. Shoulder Surfing</h2> <p>This technique involves watching over someone's shoulder as they enter a password at the ATM, or using a camera to steal the information from farther away. This could also be a tactic for getting someone's phone password before physically stealing the phone.</p> <h2>16. Skimming</h2> <p>This nefarious technique involves stealing credit or debit card information with a card reader that may look just like a legitimate card reader. Skimming devices have been found at gas station pumps, on ATMs, and at retail store registers. Or, waiters in restaurants can put your card through a skimmer when they take it to the back to finalize your bill.</p> <h2>17. Friend and Family Theft</h2> <p>Also known as &quot;familiar fraud,&quot; this crime happens when the ID thief is your child, your parent, even your spouse. Sadly, it's not uncommon for parents to abuse the identities of their own minor children in order to get credit. In a <a href="https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/587/the-perils-of-intimacy?act=0#play" target="_blank">disturbing story broadcast on <em>This American Life</em></a>, Rachel Rosenthal couldn't figure out how her identity thief kept catching up with her, no matter how many accounts she closed &mdash; until she realized that the thief lived in her own home and had access to all her mail and documents. It was her boyfriend, who had been &quot;helping&quot; her financially, with money he withdrew from <em>her</em> bank account.</p> <p>Often, these crimes take place in the context of real relationships, where one party happened to turn on the other party. But there are also crooks out there who look for partners specifically to steal their identities, especially on dating sites and social media.</p> <h2>18. Social Engineering Targeting Companies</h2> <p>You don't have to work for a credit agency or mortgage bank to get customer information if you are skilled enough to trick employees into giving it to you. Thieves may call an airline, posing as a secretary who needs her boss's trip information, or call a company pretending to represent a client or supplier. A friendly fast talker may be able to get employees to skip security protocols and give out information they shouldn't. Every call the thief makes is a little easier, armed with the information from the last call</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-17"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes">Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Technology hijacking identity identity theft phishing skimming stolen identity tech news Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:00:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1905168 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-157397600.jpg" alt="Woman making sure her private info stays private" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a world where so many of us share everything from the birth of a child to our weight loss goals on social media, privacy might seem like a moot point. But the reality is, growing identity theft threats make safeguarding personal details more important than ever.</p> <p>The good news is, there are simple things you can do to keep yourself safe. It is just about paying attention to where your personal information could leak out, and plugging the holes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Your Credit Card May Be Sharing Your Private Info</a>)</p> <h2>1. Destroy Unneeded Paper Documents</h2> <p>Any junk mail that contains a credit offer. Old documents with your signature, Social Security number, date of birth, or other identifying details. Old tax returns. Convenience checks from credit cards. These are some of the most sensitive items that you should never dispose of without shredding. Buy a <a href="http://amzn.to/2jwjGhw" target="_blank">crosscut shredder</a> or take your documents to a business shredder to destroy, or burn the paper in your fireplace.</p> <h2>2. Safeguard Your Mail</h2> <p>The <a href="https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/TipThieves.aspx" target="_blank">U.S. Post Office recommends</a> that you pick up your mail promptly after delivery and always put the mail on hold if you go out of town. Some folks take it a step further by investing in a locking mailbox or renting a post office box away from their residence. Remember to protect outgoing mail as well, by dropping it into a secure mailbox or handing it to the carrier, instead of leaving it out for the carrier to pick up.</p> <h2>3. Be Wary of Online Forms</h2> <p>You may be asked for your name, email address, home address, phone number, date of birth, and other personal information many times a day on the Internet. And often, it's legitimate to share that information &mdash; for instance, when signing up for a food delivery service. But when asked for personal details, ask yourself who's behind the request &mdash; a reputable brand, or a company you've never heard of? Is the sign-up really necessary?</p> <h2>4. Don't Overshare on Social Media</h2> <p>First of all, know who you're sharing with when you post something on social media. On Facebook, you can choose to share a post with the public, with all your friends, or only a subgroup of friends. Personally, I don't know all the people I've accepted friend requests from very well. So most of the things I post &mdash; especially potentially compromising information such as an upcoming surgery or vacation &mdash; are only shared with a select group of close friends and relatives.</p> <p>Second, there are some things you don't want to share with anyone &mdash; not even relatives. Hundreds of thousands of people each year have their <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/21/identity-theft-victims-may-know-the-culprit.html" target="_blank">IDs stolen by someone they know</a>. Never post a photo of personal documents, like a new passport or even a kid's report card. Beware of documents that may be visible in the background of snapshots, like that tax form stuck to your fridge with a magnet.</p> <h2>5. Conduct Periodic Audits of Your Online Info</h2> <p>This sounds complicated, but it's actually easy. First, Google your full name. Look yourself up on &quot;people search&quot; websites, especially <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/01/12/youve-probably-never-heard-of-this-creepy-genealogy-site-but-its-heard-all-about-you/?utm_term=.620bcefdccc0" target="_blank">FamilyTreeNow</a>, which allows people to search for personal data without paying or signing up for an account. A lot of the info you will find on these sites are public records, but that doesn't mean you want to make it easy for potential data thieves to aggregate all public info about you for free. Opt out of all such sites, which may take some time clicking around, but is worth it.</p> <h2>6. Be Suspicious of Everyone Who Handles Your Information</h2> <p>Your children's school and your doctor's office probably aren't out to rob you, so you might feel comfortable sharing any information they ask for. Here's the thing, though: Do you know if they're storing those documents securely or disposing of them properly when no longer needed? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft</a>)</p> <p>One way to limit your exposure to this risk is to give as little information as possible. Yes, every school form might ask for your child's medical insurance ID, but is it really necessary? At the doctor's office, decline to write your Social Security number on paperwork. They don't need it on every piece of paper in your file.</p> <p>Another way to limit your exposure is to ask staff how papers are handled and secured, and to push for better safety in the likely event that there's room for improvement.</p> <h2>7. Keep Your Computer Clean</h2> <p>Logging onto bank, mortgage, and credit accounts to pay bills, check balances, and transfer money is incredibly convenient. It can also be incredibly dangerous if you do it on a compromised computer. Be wary of what you click, whether it's an app you download or a link or attachment in email, because if your computer gets a virus, it could do more than slow it down. Hackers can use such Trojan horses to slip a keystroke logging program onto your computer, recording everything you type, including usernames and passwords. Never log onto banking and other sensitive sites using public Wi-Fi connections.</p> <p>Besides avoiding clicking dodgy links and regularly scanning your computer for malware, you can safeguard your online banking data by regularly changing your passwords, and by making your passwords really hard to guess.</p> <h2>8. Limit What You Carry Around With You</h2> <p>Stealing your purse or wallet is another way thieves can get ahold of your private information. Don't carry anything more than you need &mdash; one or two credit cards and your driver's license should do. Leave your Social Security card at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a>)</p> <h2>9. Opt Out of Junk Mail</h2> <p>You can sign up to <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email" target="_blank">stop credit and insurance companies</a> from sending you preapproved offers, which could be used to take out accounts in your name. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-remove-yourself-from-mailing-lists-and-eliminate-junk-mail?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Remove Yourself From Mailing Lists and Eliminate Junk Mail</a>)</p> <h2>10. Don't Get Caught by a Phisher</h2> <p>Beware of impostors asking for your bank password or other information. You may already know that if you get an alarming email purportedly from your bank, you can go straight to your bank website and log on, or call them, instead of clicking the link.</p> <p>But increasingly, phishers are reaching victims by phone as well. So many people have been tricked into installing malicious software or giving up credit card numbers by fake &quot;Microsoft tech support&quot; calls that <a href="https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx" target="_blank">Microsoft set up a page</a> warning the public about them. The Internal Revenue Service has set up a <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-urges-public-to-stay-alert-for-scam-phone-calls" target="_blank">similar warning</a> about criminals who call posing as IRS agents and ask for money or personal data. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-that-a-winning-notification-email-is-a-fake">6 Signs That a Winning Notification Email Is a Fake</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data">3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs data emails identity theft malware personal information phishing phone calls scams security viruses Thu, 02 Mar 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1898692 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Reasons You Should File Your Taxes as Soon as Possible http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-610688960.jpg" alt="Learning reasons you should file taxes as soon as possible" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What do we want? A tax refund! When do we want it? Now!</p> <p>Here are eight reasons you should pick up the pace on your tax preparation and file well before this year's April 18 deadline.</p> <h2>1. You'll Get Your Refund Faster</h2> <p>Simple logic, folks: The sooner you file your returns, the faster you'll receive a refund (if you're owed one). The IRS says it issues nine out of 10 refunds within 21 days (sometimes less) with e-file and direct deposit. Use that money to get a head start on spring and summer home improvements, pay off debt sooner than later, or bulk up your emergency savings account.</p> <h2>2. Filing Online Is Easy</h2> <p>If your taxes aren't complicated &mdash; and they shouldn't be if you don't have multiple sources of income &mdash; filing online should be a walk in the park. Using <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-12747133" target="_blank">TurboTax online</a>, for example, is almost effortless, and it will help you submit an accurate return while also saving you money. Best of all, you can do it on your own time and in the comfort of your own home.</p> <h2>3. You'll Have Extra Time to Pay the Taxes You May Owe<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Filing early doesn't mean you have to pay the taxes you may owe immediately. In fact, it'll give you a decent window to figure out how to cover that cost, especially if you don't readily have it available. If you submit your tax return in February, for example, you still have until the April deadline to come up with payment.</p> <h2>4. Your Accountant Can Spend More Quality Time on Your Return<strong> </strong></h2> <p>I'm an entrepreneur, and I own a business that requires a decent amount of accounting at tax time. Admittedly, this is not something I want to handle on my own, which is why I have a CPA. I usually schedule my annual meeting with him mid- to late-February &mdash; before he's bombarded with his other clients' returns &mdash; so he can give mine the TLC it needs. If you have a lot of components to your own taxes, this is definitely a strategy to consider. You don't want to lose out on refund money because your accountant was in a hurry.</p> <h2>5. You Can Spend More Quality Time on Your Return</h2> <p>Even if you're handling your taxes on your own, it's still wise to give yourself ample time to prepare. A lot of information goes onto a return, and you need to ensure that everything is correct. Tax mistakes can be costly, but they can also be avoided if you plan ahead instead of trying to beat the clock at the last minute. Triple-check your numbers and personal information for accuracy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making</a>)</p> <h2>6. You'll Reduce the Chance of Identity Theft</h2> <p>Identity theft is a major concern with regards to your finances, and even your tax return is at risk. Scammers can file fraudulent returns in unsuspecting taxpayers' names, but the chances of that happening are reduced the earlier you file. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <h2>7. It'll Make Your Home-Buying Process Easier</h2> <p>I've bought several homes over the years, and it's very stressful. For one, the mortgage company needs every last piece of your financial information that they can get their hands on &mdash; and then some. Your homebuying process will go much smoother this time of year if you've already filed your taxes.</p> <h2>8. You'll Have Time to Help Advise Your Working Dependent Kids<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Your working children can also make mistakes on their own returns, filing as independents when they're clearly still dependents. Have a discussion with your kids about this designation &mdash; especially important to remember if they're away at college and filing on their own &mdash; so you don't miss out on deductions that <em>you </em>deserve.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-tax-deductions-you-can-never-take">3 Tax Deductions You Can Never Take</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes accounting dependents e-file home buying identity theft IRS kids refunds tax returns Tue, 28 Feb 2017 10:00:21 +0000 Mikey Rox 1897587 at http://www.wisebread.com Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_work_clock_485696494.jpg" alt="Woman getting money sooner by starting tax prep" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Good news, U.S. taxpayers!</p> <p>In 2017, Tax Day is pushed back to Tuesday April 18th, because April 15th falls on a Saturday and the Emancipation Day holiday (anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by President Abraham Lincoln) is pushed to Monday April 17th. Residents of Maine and Massachusetts get an extra day to file federal taxes because Patriots Day falls on April 18th, 2017.</p> <p>However, getting a head start on your return is a better strategy than waiting until April 18th or 19th, depending on your state of residence. From increasing the take-home from your remaining paychecks for the year to making the most out of a bonus check in the first few weeks of 2017, let's review five reasons why it pays off to prep for the 2016 tax season now.</p> <h2>1. Avoid Withholding More Than You Need To</h2> <p>Nearly eight out of 10 U.S. tax filers <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/13/pf/taxes/taxpayer-refunds/">get tax refunds</a>. This isn't good for two reasons. First, those individuals have to get throughout the year with fewer dollars. The average <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/filing-season-statistics-for-week-ending-oct-21-2016">refund for the 2016 tax season</a> was $2,777, or roughly $230 per month. Wouldn't an extra $230 per month for a full year provide more breathing room in your budget and help you pay down high-interest debt faster? Second, the IRS pays you no interest on the refund from your current year. Now, that's a double whammy.</p> <p>To find out whether or not you have already withheld enough for this tax season, use the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator">IRS Withholding Calculator</a> and find out how to adjust your Form W-4. Chances are that you will be able to take home more money from your last paychecks from 2016 and avoid having to put those holiday purchases on credit.</p> <h2>2. Spread Out Tax Liability</h2> <p>Of course, using the IRS Withholding Calculator may reveal that you're behind your estimated tax liability. In that case, finding out earlier allows you to take several steps to avoid a huge lump-sum payment next year. Here is your game plan:</p> <ul> <li>Adjust your filing status, number of allowances, and number of dependents on Form W-4 according to the instructions from the IRS Withhold Calculator to increase withholding on the next few paychecks;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Input an additional amount, if any, you want withheld from each paycheck on line six of Form W-4; or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Submit an additional estimated tax payment with the fourth voucher from <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040es.pdf">Form 1040-ES</a> due on January 17, 2017.</li> </ul> <h2>3. Boost Retirement Account Contributions</h2> <p>In 2016, you can contribute up to $18,000 ($24,000 when age 50 and over) to your 401K and up to $5,500 ($6,500 when age 50 and over) to your IRA. The catch is that all of your contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement account must be turned by your last paycheck. Even though you can technically submit contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement account until December 31, 2016, your last paycheck may fall on, let's say, December 23rd.</p> <p>If you know that you still have a lot of room before you hit the maximum contribution limit for your 401K, you're in time to increase the contribution percentage from your paycheck for the remainder of the year. Act fast because some employers may make changes effective anywhere from one to four weeks.</p> <p>In the event that you don't have a retirement account, find out whether or not you're eligible to set one up by December 31, 2016. As long as you set up your 401K or IRA by this date, any contributions to your retirement account that your employer makes through a commission check or bonus next year before Tax Day or the day that you file your return, whichever is earlier, reduce your taxable income for 2016! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-things-to-do-with-your-bonus?ref=seealso">6 Smart Things to Do With Your Bonus</a>)</p> <h2>4. Get Your Refund Faster</h2> <p>The IRS issues tax refunds generally in <a href="https://www.irs.gov/refunds/tax-season-refund-frequently-asked-questions">less than 21 calendar days</a>. By submitting your tax return earlier, you're increasing your chances of getting your return processed faster. By February 5, 2016, the IRS had received 26,670,000 returns and processed 26,133,000 of those returns. That's a 97.98% processing rate &mdash; not too bad. Fast forward to April 22, 2016, the number of returns received by the IRS ballooned to 136,528,000 and the processing rate drops by 3%. The early (tax) bird gets the worm (faster).</p> <p>Completing your federal return early also helps you get your state refund faster. Remember that this year many states increased the required processing time due to new tax fraud prevention procedures. For example, the Hawaii State Department of Taxation increased the processing window from six to eight weeks to <a href="http://khon2.com/2015/04/08/state-tax-refunds-delayed-further-by-new-fraud-prevention-procedures/">approximately 10 to 14 weeks</a>.</p> <p>To help increase the odds of a faster refund, opt to file your return electronically, whenever possible, and receive your refund via direct deposit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make?ref=seealso">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a>)</p> <h2>5. Prevent Tax Identity Theft</h2> <p>Last but not least, a key benefit of preparing and submitting your 2016 tax return early is that it prevents tax-related identity theft. Here's a sample. As of February 29, 2016, the IRS had identified <a href="https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2016reports/201640034fr.pdf">31,578 fraudulent tax returns</a> involving identity theft. Just six days later, the number of identified fraudulent tax returns increased by over 10,500!</p> <p>When it comes to filing your return, every single day counts. The longer you wait, the higher your chance in becoming the next victim of tax-related identity theft.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-tax-day-is-april-15-and-other-weird-financial-deadlines">Why Tax Day Is April 15 and Other Weird Financial Deadlines</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible">8 Reasons You Should File Your Taxes as Soon as Possible</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes benefits early filing identity theft IRS refunds tax day tax prep Tax Season taxpayers withholdings Wed, 30 Nov 2016 11:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1843962 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/data_breach_58553266.jpg" alt="Learning what to do if your identity gets stolen" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that in 2014, 17.6 million Americans aged 16 or older were <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit14_sum.pdf">victims of identity theft</a>. That, alone, is a scary fact. And to be honest, when anyone says the phrase &quot;identity theft,&quot; most of us picture lives being upended, years of court cases, and bank accounts being wiped out.</p> <p>But let's look a little deeper into this issue, because while it is definitely something to keep on your radar, identity theft is a broad term. Plus, these days, with so many people being affected, there are more resources available than ever before to help you out. So before you go into full-blown panic mode&hellip;read on.</p> <h2>It's Highly Unlikely Someone Will Actually &quot;Steal&quot; Your Identity</h2> <p>Of the 17.6 million Americans that were victims of identity theft in 2014, only 4% of them actually had their personal information used to open a new account. Think about that for a second, and you should already be feeling much more calm. The chances of someone actually pretending to be you, opening up account everywhere in your name, and sinking you into a world of pain, are very slim indeed. Sadly, media outlets and the news don't like to cover that, because it's not sexy, and it doesn't get ratings. That's why the identity theft stories you hear about are horrific. But in reality, it is highly unlikely that you will have your literal identity stolen.</p> <h2>Identity Theft Is a Very Broad Term</h2> <p>The phrase itself puts most people in a cold sweat, but it covers a lot of different aspects of the crime. The vast majority of identity theft crimes, around 86%, are tied to the misuse of a credit card or bank account. That's it. Someone grabs your digits, takes out some cash, and calls it a day before the card gets canceled. Or, they withdraw a bunch of money and move on to someone else's account. Either way, it's quick and dirty, but rarely goes beyond that level of theft. And as the next point proves, it's not worth worrying about&hellip;</p> <h2>Credit Card and Bank Account Misuse Is Covered</h2> <p>If someone manages to get hold of your credit card, either by stealing or cloning it, they will undoubtedly go on a shopping spree. But you don't have to worry. While the initial shock of seeing thousands in charges you didn't accrue is horrifying, you are not on the hook for it. Card issuers and bank accounts cover you <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0213-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards">for most (and generally all) of the theft</a>. You will get all of those funds put back onto your account, usually very quickly, and the card issuer or bank will take the hit and investigate the crime. Sadly, very little of this money is recovered from the thieves who did the spending. Unless there is CCTV footage of them committing the crime, and significant evidence to track them down, they'll get away with it. But rest assured, you won't have to foot the bill.</p> <h2>Over 52% of Identity Theft Victims Resolve the Problem in a Day or Less</h2> <p>Not years. Not months. Not weeks. Just one day. That should come as great comfort if you're worried about the time and expense it could take to sort out the mess some nasty crook has created for you. And here's further cause to relax&hellip;only 9% of victims spent more than a month trying to get their lives back on track, and even then, it was not a month taken off work, fighting eight hours a day, seven days a week. It is simply a process that can take time to get right.</p> <h2>This Is a Common Problem, So You'll Get Help</h2> <p>When identity theft first popped up, it was hard to get card issuers and banks to listen to the facts. But these days, that has all changed. There were more victims of identity theft in 2014 than <a href="https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/property-crime/property-crime">there were property crimes</a>, so it's definitely on law enforcement's radar. Most credit card companies monitor accounts very closely, and track your spending habits. They will often shut down a card immediately if they believe there is suspicious activity going on &mdash; for instance, an unusually large purchase, many purchases in one day, or purchases made out of state.</p> <p>If your card is stolen, report it the moment you notice it is gone, or has been cloned. If you see a new account has been opened in your name, report that immediately. These companies want your business, and they are setup to handle this kind of crime.</p> <h2>It's Easy to Stop Identity Theft in Its Tracks</h2> <p>These days you have resources and tools to monitor your accounts and your credit reports. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) puts this kind of protection into two basic categories.</p> <h3>Credit Monitoring</h3> <p>This tracks activity on your credit reports, and notifies you if a company checks your credit history, a new account is opened in your name, a debt collector reports a late payment, your credit limits change, or your personal information changes. It's worth noting that this isn't actually protection, but a warning. However, once you're alerted, you can act on that information.</p> <h3>Identity Monitoring</h3> <p>This alerts you when personal information, including your driver's license, passport, Social Security number, medical ID number, or bank account information, is used in ways that don't show up on your credit report.</p> <p>You will already know of major identity theft protection sites and services out there, including LifeLock, CompleteID, IdentityGuard, and IDShield. Your bank account and credit card issuers may also have their own version of identity theft protection for you to take advantage of. All of these services require a nominal monthly fee, but for the peace of mind offered, it's worth it.</p> <h2>Criminals Need More Than Just Your Personal Information</h2> <p>If you see a news story talking about a data breach, take the time to find out what has actually been stolen. As Time reported in 2015, criminals can do very little with your name, birth date, and email address. Even with your address and phone number on top of that, they aren't going to be able to do much without a SSN and/or account numbers and passwords. The most they can do is some kind of &quot;phishing&quot; scam, where they will use your personal information to try and get money out of you in some way, via phone or email. But use your common sense, and never respond to a cold call or email. Always contact a business yourself to verify this.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Consumer Affairs credit monitoring data breach fraud hacked identity theft illegal phishing scams social security stolen money Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1819826 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/computer_password_88375551.jpg" alt="Finding sneaky ways identity thieves can access data" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You just can't be too careful nowadays.</p> <p>From 2010 to 2015, identity thieves have stolen <a href="http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/identity-theft-and-cybercrime">$112 billion</a> from U.S. consumers. A staggering 13.1 million victims of identify theft lost $15 billion in 2015 alone. To curb more cases of identity theft, more and more issuers of credit and debit cards are transitioning their clients to cards with chip technology. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-chip-credit-cards-make-life-easier?ref=seealso">4 Ways Chip Credit Cards Make Life Easier</a>)</p> <p>Still, there are plenty of methods for criminals to get a hold of your personal information. Let's review three more ways thieves can steal your identity and how to protect yourself against them.</p> <h2>1. Mailbox</h2> <p>Snail mail can be annoying in more ways that you think. While receiving paper copies of statements of your bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, or investment accounts can save you the cost of printing them out yourself, keep in mind that it also opens the door for potential identity theft. For example, all it takes is a thief to get a hold of a bank account or credit card statement and try his luck changing your mailing address and requesting a replacement card. Don't let somebody go on a shopping spree with your hard-earned dollars!</p> <p>Another target inside your mailbox is any prefilled credit card or loan application. That little trash bin right next to the mailbox area in your apartment building is a gold mine for identity thieves.</p> <h3>How to Prevent It</h3> <p>The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) recommends you avoid leaving mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends. If you plan to be away from home from three to 30 consecutive days, use the <a href="https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/">USPS Hold Mail Service</a> to schedule delivery of all mail on the day of your return.</p> <p>Also, make sure that you deposit any mail containing personal information only on U.S. Postal Service collection boxes and securely discard any letters of preapproved offers of credit. You also can opt out of unsolicited credit and insurance offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visiting <a href="http://www.optoutprescreen.com">www.OptOutPrescreen.com</a>.</p> <h2>2. Fake Public Wi-Fi</h2> <p>Whether struggling to keep your data usage within the limits of your existing phone data plan or trying to upload a perfect Instagram selfie during your trip to Italy, many of us can't resist the promise of free Internet from a public hot spot. Malicious hackers are aware of this and set up fake public Wi-Fi hot spots to lure users and steal their data.</p> <p>Main targets are commuters doing work and exposing valuable information, such as lists of clients, business expense accounts, and invoices. If you think getting your identity stolen is bad, imagine exposing that of your clients or coworkers to cyber criminals. And those hackers don't have to be anywhere close to you: They can be <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=3454066&amp;page=1">up to 100 feet</a> away and still get away with your identity.</p> <h3>How to Prevent It</h3> <p>Only activate your Wi-Fi port when you're about to connect to a known and secure Wi-Fi. Whenever possible, check the authenticity of a hot spot. For example, ask the reception desk attendant at a hotel or check billboards at a mall.</p> <p>When using public Wi-Fi connections, don't visit sites related to your personal finance. If you absolutely must use a public Wi-Fi for work, only do so by connecting through your company's Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt all data during your session.</p> <h2>3. Email</h2> <p>You don't need to be a major celebrity for somebody to try hacking your email account. All it takes is the suspicion that you may have a lot of financial assets or are in the process of a major financial transaction, such as closing a mortgage, executing an estate, or applying for a student loan.</p> <p>While you may think that it takes really complicated hacking skills to decipher a password, the harsh reality is that most people use the simplest of passwords. According to a <a href="http://gizmodo.com/the-25-most-popular-passwords-of-2015-were-all-such-id-1753591514">list of over two million leaked passwords</a>, the top five passwords of 2015 were:</p> <ol> <li>123456</li> <li>password</li> <li>12345678</li> <li>Qwerty</li> <li>12345</li> </ol> <p>Internet uses don't learn from their mistakes: The top two most commonly used passwords of 2015 were also the top two of the list from the previous year. Even worse, nearly three out of four individuals <a href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246902">use the same password</a> for multiple accounts. By unlocking your email password, hackers have a good chance of getting a hold of your other online accounts.</p> <h3>How to Prevent It</h3> <p>Microsoft recommends using passwords that:</p> <ul> <li>Are at least <a href="https://blogs.microsoft.com/microsoftsecure/2014/08/25/create-stronger-passwords-and-protect-them/">eight characters</a> in length;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't contain your username, real name, or company name;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't spell out complete words (sorry sports fans: football and baseball were #7 and #10 in the list of most commonly stolen passwords);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are significantly different from previous passwords; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are different from passwords used on other websites.</li> </ul> <p>Also, don't use your email to store documents containing sensitive information, such as your social security number or credit card number. If you need to exchange such documents, do so through the encrypted online portal of your financial institution. You'll know it's encrypted when the URL bar shows a &quot;HTTPS.&quot;</p> <p>Finally, learn to identify the meanings of the potential types of padlocks that your web browser uses, such as the <a href="https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-do-i-tell-if-my-connection-is-secure">green and gray padlocks of Mozilla Firefox</a>.</p> <p>Better safe than sorry.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been a victim of identity theft?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-your-auto-reply-email-telling-people-about-you">What Is Your Auto-Reply Email Telling People About You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-surprising-perks-and-some-drawbacks-of-paperless-billing">9 Surprising Perks (and Some Drawbacks) of Paperless Billing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-declutter-your-digital-life">5 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes">Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Technology bank statements email free wi-fi identity theft Internet loan applications mail theft passwords protection scams security Thu, 01 Sep 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Damian Davila 1780042 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do When Your Belongings Get Stolen Abroad http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-belongings-get-stolen-abroad <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-when-your-belongings-get-stolen-abroad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_78989923_LARGE.jpg" alt="what to do if your belongings get stolen abroad" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one wants to face the dreaded day when their belongings get stolen, and especially not when traveling abroad. You've surely done everything to avoid this outcome, and now all there is to do is take the practical steps to set everything right.</p> <h2>This Is Not the Time to Panic</h2> <p>Panicking will not help the situation, and may put you in more harm. The best thing you can do now is to take a deep breath and prepare to handle the logistics required, calmly and pragmatically.</p> <h2>Make a Report With the Local Police</h2> <p>This is important, not because the police will necessarily be able to find the thief and return your belongings to you, but because this will give you a written record of the items that have been stolen. The police report will come in handy if you need to make any claims with your insurance, and it will also be important to get replacement travel documents.</p> <p>Many countries require you to have some form of ID on you, so if you ever get questioned, you can show the authorities this police report and avoid getting yourself into further trouble.</p> <h2>Cancel Credit and Debit Cards</h2> <p>You'll need to make a call to your bank to cancel any credit cards that have been stolen. If you happened to have made a photocopy of your cards (or a smartphone image), you will find that very helpful right now, since they have the right toll free number printed on them for international calls. Plus, you'll be able to provide customer service with your account information seamlessly.</p> <p>If you don't have this information conveniently copied, that's okay, too. You can find the phone number for your bank or credit card provider online. Even without your card number, they will be able to identify you and find your account information based on a series of security questions. (The exact questions will depend entirely on your particular bank's security system.)</p> <p>At this point you, can decide if it makes sense to have a card mailed to you internationally. They will probably have an express service and should be able to get a card to you within a few days.</p> <p>While you're on the phone, make sure to copy down your account information so that you have it on hand in case you need to call them again to further sort things out.</p> <h2>Call Your Travel Insurance Agent</h2> <p>Of course, not everyone has the foresight to buy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-buying-travel-insurance?ref=internal">travel insurance</a>, but if this is something you purchased before your trip, now is the time to take advantage of it. If you do have a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you can call them and they may be able to set you up with someone who will help you with accepting money as well as offer support in other ways.</p> <p>Depending on your plan, they may even cover the cost for you to fly home. There may be some fees associated with this, so it may not be the most cost-effective way to do it, but it is a safety net that you can rely on if needed.</p> <h2>Get Cash</h2> <p>If your bank has international locations, you can go into a branch to get access to your money. If you need an emergency transfer, you can often get one through Western Union.</p> <p>Keep in mind that Western Union will require some sort of identification for you to be able to accept a transfer, so if you have no form of ID, you will have to have a trustworthy friend help you accept the money. Sometimes hotels offer money wire services for their guests, too.</p> <h2>Get a Replacement Passport</h2> <p>If your passport was stolen, you're going to need to go to the local embassy to get a replacement travel document. You'll have a choice of getting a temporary travel passport &mdash; which takes minimal processing time &mdash; or you can wait a little bit longer for another permanent passport. You will have to pay for the passport though, so make sure you have cash or your new credit card when you apply.</p> <h2>Take a Step Back and Put Things in Perspective</h2> <p>Getting material things stolen is not ideal, but your health and safety are really the most important. There is always something to be grateful for and positive thinking is one of the best things you can do to cope with an experience like this. There's no use getting paranoid or ruining the rest of your trip &mdash; just learn from what has happened, and try not to make the same mistakes again. There are always things that are out of your control, so don't beat yourself up about it either.</p> <p><em>Has this happened to you? Share your story!</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this post? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-to-do-when-your-belongings-get-stolen-abroad&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%20to%20Do%20When%20Your%20Belongings%20Get%20Stolen%20Abroad.jpg&amp;description=What%20to%20Do%20When%20Your%20Belongings%20Get%20Stolen%20Abroad" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20to%20Do%20When%20Your%20Belongings%20Get%20Stolen%20Abroad.jpg" width="250" height="374" alt="" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-belongings-get-stolen-abroad">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-these-12-summer-travel-mistakes">How to Avoid These 12 Summer Travel Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-over-jet-lag-and-enjoy-your-trip">10 Ways to Get Over Jet Lag and Enjoy Your Trip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-save-on-accommodations-online">8 Ways to Save on Accommodations Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-40-best-budget-friendly-travel-tips-ever">Flashback Friday: 40 Best Budget-Friendly Travel Tips Ever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad">Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel identity theft stolen stolen belongings travel abroad travel hacks travel tips Wed, 31 Aug 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Nick Wharton 1782866 at http://www.wisebread.com Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad http://www.wisebread.com/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_beach_credit_card_100441963.jpg" alt="Woman following credit card rules while traveling abroad" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Traveling around the world can be an exciting time. However, if you are not careful with your credit card use, your trip can dig you into deep money trouble. Keep your money safe and your budget on track with these five credit card rules.</p> <h2>1. Only Use Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees</h2> <p>Using the wrong credit card for your international shopping could cost you a lot more than you think. Most cards will charge a one to three percent foreign transaction fee for each purchase made overseas. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can add up quickly. If you end up charging your hotel, all of your food, shopping, transportation, and events internationally, that can easily add up to hundreds of dollars in foreign transaction fees alone. Bring a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/smarter-security-and-no-foreign-transaction-fees-the-best-credit-cards-to-use-while-on-vacation">card that has no foreign transaction fees</a>.</p> <h2>2. Avoid ATM Machines</h2> <p>Do not use your credit card for cash withdrawals at ATM machines. It will be processed as a cash advance. Cash advances come with higher APRs, and interest starts accruing immediately. It's not wise to use cash advances at home, and it's definitely not wise to use them abroad.</p> <p>The best way to get cash abroad is to sign up for a bank that provides ATM usage with no or low fees, or has a vast network of ATMs in the country you're traveling to. Keep in mind that while some banks offer zero fees for ATM usage, they may still charge you a foreign transaction fee for getting money in local currency. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/capital-one-360-review">Capital One 360 Checking</a> offers ATM usage with no fees and no foreign transaction fees.</p> <h2>3. Just Say &quot;No&quot; to Debit Cards</h2> <p>A credit card will be safer to use abroad than a debit card. It would be horrible to run your debit card at a small souvenir shop, only to have your bank funds drained from card theft. Even better, use a credit card with the new chip technology that reduces fraud and identity theft.</p> <p>Often a hotel or car rental agency will put a hold on your card, so if you are using a debit card, it may take time for your cash to be available to you again. And if you ever run into problems with the funds release, you'll be stuck without access to your money. With a credit card, however, you can talk with your credit card company about removing the hold or helping you resolve the issue, without having to actually pay for it and wait for the funds to be returned.</p> <h2>4. Bring Multiple Credit Cards</h2> <p>Don't rely on just one card for your trip. Bring two or three cards altogether, allowing yourself a backup. It is a good idea to vary your cards, too. For example, don't make them all Visas. Try to have another card that is a MasterCard or American Express. If you run into an issue using one of them, you'll have another to fall back on.</p> <h2>5. Set Up Spending Alerts</h2> <p>No one wants to think about fraud and identity theft while they are on vacation, but it is a good idea to check over your purchases and make sure you have all of your cards and identification daily. Sign up for spending alerts so you get an email or text for each purchase. It may seem excessive, but you don't want to take any chances while you're traveling. Also, it's better to get these alerts than to log into your credit card account through public Wi-Fi. You can also call your credit card company to review recent charges.</p> <p>Traveling abroad is an adventure, so don't ruin your trip with unwise money moves.</p> <p><em>What is your favorite card to use when traveling abroad? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-avoid-credit-card-fraud-while-traveling">7 Ways to Avoid Credit Card Fraud While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling">11 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-your-belongings-get-stolen-abroad">What to Do When Your Belongings Get Stolen Abroad</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">The Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel atm machines foreign transaction fees fraud protection identity theft overseas protecting money safety traveling abroad Fri, 19 Aug 2016 10:00:12 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1775194 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_holding_phone_39165382.jpg" alt="Man learning how to spot a credit repair scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When your credit has taken a significant hit and you need professional assistance, a credit repair company can do wonders for your financial situation. They can help you get your credit back on track and even work to remove errors from your credit report that may be affecting your score. In turn, this can help you more easily qualify for a loan or credit card.</p> <p>However, just as there are people out there who want to help you, there are also people who want to take advantage of your situation for profit. That's why we've provided some of the top signs to help you spot a credit repair scam before you, too, become a victim.</p> <h2>They Ask for Money Upfront</h2> <p>The FTC prohibits agencies from requiring money upfront, before the work is done. Any company that asks for money upfront before providing services is likely trying to get your financial information.</p> <h2>They Provide a New SSN or EIN</h2> <p>Credit repair companies may require your Social Security number. What is <em>not</em> necessary is an employer identification number. If the company requires you to apply for a new employer identification number, this is a good indication that they may be scamming you.</p> <p>Some companies may also provide you with a new Social Security number and suggest that you apply for credit using that new number. This is illegal and you are likely using a stolen Social Security number (often from a child), so you should report the company immediately, before you are involved in an identity theft scheme. Often, the agency will claim that they can provide you with a &quot;<a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0225-credit-repair-scams">new credit identity</a>&quot; using this method, which is a red flag.</p> <h2>They Encourage You to Lie</h2> <p>If the company encourages you to misrepresent yourself, this is a huge red flag. For instance, according to Credit.com, some agencies may encourage you to sign an identity theft affidavit, even if you weren't a victim of identity theft. By misrepresenting yourself, you are only putting yourself in danger.</p> <h2>They Make Lofty Promises</h2> <p>Any information that is correct on your credit report will stay there. This means that accurate reporting like bankruptcy, judgments, and liens will remain on your credit report. A company shouldn't promise to have them removed. If they make these types of impossible promises, they are likely running a scam. If they have aggressive advertising that makes promises in regards to the results they can achieve or how much your credit will recover, then you should steer clear.</p> <h2>They Discourage You From Taking Actions</h2> <p>If they discourage you from contacting any of the three national credit reporting companies directly, run the other way. If they don't inform you of your legal rights and what you can do for free to repair your credit on your own, then they aren't a trustworthy organization.</p> <h2>They Can't Explain Their Services</h2> <p>The agency you are working with should be able to clearly explain in detail what the services are that they'll be providing. If they simply make a claim as to the results they will achieve, or how long it would take them to achieve those results, then you never know what you're getting into. For instance, if they guarantee you will see results in 48 hours, you should know that nobody can make these claims confidently, so they can't be trusted.</p> <h2>They Don't Provide a Clear Contract</h2> <p>A reputable agency is required to provide a contract that clearly describes the services being offered and the total cost of services. It should also clearly state the name and business address of the agency.</p> <p>You have <a href="http://www.bbb.org/blog/2015/06/dont-fall-for-credit-repair-scams/">the right to cancel</a> the contract within three days without incurring any fees, thanks to the Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law. You should also be provided with a copy of these Consumer Credit File Rights upfront. If the company fails to inform you of these rights, run the other way.</p> <h2>They Don't Care About Your Story</h2> <p>Any reputable agency will want to know about your credit history, what the issues are, and what your credit reports look like before discussing their services. If they don't care to know your backstory and start making promises right off the bat, this is a warning sign.</p> <h2>They Ask You to Waive Your Rights</h2> <p>You have rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If the company asks you to waive these legal rights, then you should steer clear.</p> <h2>You Can Do It Yourself</h2> <p>There are certain effective steps you can take on your own to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-secured-credit-card-can-repair-your-credit-score-heres-how-to-pick-the-best?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">improve your credit score</a>. Taking these steps on your own will require some time and effort, but won't cost you anything.</p> <p>If you decide to work with certain credit repair companies, consider first looking them up on the <a href="http://www.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau (BBB)</a>, <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov">Federal Trade Commission</a>, and your <a href="http://www.naag.org/">state attorney general's office</a> to find out if there are any outstanding complaints against them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <p><em>Do you have any experiences with credit repair companies? Were you the victim of a credit repair scam? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-a-digital-camera-online-until-you-read-this">DO NOT buy a digital camera online until you read this.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance BBB credit repair federal trade commission fraud identity theft scams schemes social security number Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1725701 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_identity_theft_000023163541.jpg" alt="Man learning when to freeze his credit report" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one should have access to your credit report without your consent. A security freeze can help prevent a credit reporting company from releasing your credit report, which prevents new creditors and third parties from being able to view your report and score. Consider the following circumstances in which freezing your credit report might be appropriate.</p> <h2>1. You're a Victim of Identity Theft</h2> <p>If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or that someone is making charges to your accounts without your consent, then it's time to place a freeze on your credit report. In fact, depending on your state security freeze law, you may even be eligible for free security freeze services.</p> <p>On average, victims of identity theft need to spend about 40 hours to clean up their credit once a thief has opened an account in their name. With the security freeze in place, you won't have to worry about that, because it prevents new accounts from being opened. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-comprehensive-guide-to-identity-theft-everything-you-need-to-know?ref=seealso">The Comprehensive Guide to Identity Theft: Everything You Need to Know</a>)</p> <p>Keep in mind that placing a freeze on your credit file only prevents a fraudster from opening new accounts in your name. It doesn't prevent them from accessing any of your existing credit cards. While new creditors will not be able to access your account, it's important to remember that businesses that you already have an existing relationship with can still access your credit history.</p> <h2>2. You've Been Subjected to a Security Breach</h2> <p>Even if you aren't currently a victim of identity theft, but are concerned that your information may be released to people or companies without your consent, you can block access to your credit report with a freeze. If you have reason to believe that you may soon be a victim of identity theft, then a freeze may be the right preemptive step to ensure you don't have big problems in the near future. For instance, if your wallet or mail were stolen, or your social security number was part of a security breach, then placing a security freeze on your file will prevent a thief from using your information.</p> <p>If only your credit or debit card information has been stolen, a security freeze is not necessarily vital. In these cases, you may be better off simply requesting credit monitoring services, placing a fraud alert, or freezing those particular cards so that no one can use them.</p> <h2>3. You Don't Need Credit Right Now</h2> <p>If you believe you won't need to apply for credit anytime in the near future, and want to gain maximum control of your credit score, a security freeze may be appropriate for you. The advantages of a credit freeze increase with age because as people get older, they generally don't need credit as much. Therefore, placing a freeze on your account will just ensure that nobody else can apply for credit in your name, either.</p> <h2>4. You're Going Through a Messy Divorce</h2> <p>Many people involved in messy divorces place a freeze on their credit. This ensures that your spouse is not able to open any new accounts with your identity, as they will likely have all of your personal information.</p> <h2>5. You're Protecting Your Child's Credit</h2> <p>Have you ever received credit card offers in the mail for your children? You may consider placing a protected credit freeze on <em>their </em>file to prevent any fraudulent accounts from being opened in their name. A protected consumer freeze can be requested by the parent or legal guardian of a minor or medically incapacitated consumer.</p> <h2>How to Place a Security Freeze on Your Credit File</h2> <p>You can place a freeze on your credit files at each of the three major credit reporting agencies, <a href="https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp">Equifax</a>, <a href="https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html">Experian</a>, and <a href="https://freeze.transunion.com/sf/securityFreeze/landingPage.jsp">TransUnion</a>. You can follow a simple online process, request the freeze by phone, or submit your request in writing. Keep in mind that you will need to follow this process for all three credit bureaus. At minimum, you will need to supply your name, address, social security number, date of birth, and other basic personal information.</p> <p>Once the freeze has been placed on your account, your credit report will be inaccessible unless you provide specific authorization with a password or 10-digit personal identification number (PIN). The freeze will remain on your credit file until you request that it be removed.</p> <h3>The Costs Involved</h3> <p>In most cases, it will cost $2&ndash;$15 per person, per bureau to freeze your credit report. However, the fees will vary by state and scenario. For instance, some states won't charge people over age 62 or under age 19, so you should refer to your state's data.</p> <h3>Temporarily Lifting the Freeze</h3> <p>Once you receive the password or PIN for your account, you will be able to authorize the temporary release of your credit report for a specific period of time or for a specific person. You can request that the freeze be lifted for anywhere from one day to one year. Keep in mind that you will need to contact all three credit bureaus to request that the freeze be temporarily lifted.</p> <h3>Applying for New Credit</h3> <p>According to Experian, having a security freeze can affect the approval of any request or application for &quot;a new loan, credit, mortgage, insurance, government services or payments, rental housing, employment, investment, license, cellular telephone, utilities, digital signature, Internet credit card transaction or other services, including an extension of credit at point of sale.&quot; If you are considering applying for credit, keep in mind that a security freeze can slow down the application. Try removing the freeze at least three business days before applying for new credit.</p> <h3>Don't Take a Credit Freeze Lightly</h3> <p>Keep in mind that a credit freeze is a major step that will completely remove you from the credit marketplace, so it should only be pursued on an as-needed basis. For instance, if you've applied for a new job or apartment and they need to see your credit file, having a freeze in place will result in unnecessary delays. On the other hand, it will not adversely impact your credit score or your chances of getting credit once the freeze has been lifted.</p> <p><em>Have you ever placed a freeze on your credit report? Please share your experience in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit freeze credit report fraud identity theft security freeze Tue, 15 Mar 2016 11:00:06 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1672232 at http://www.wisebread.com When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number? http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000012525442_Large.jpg" alt="the dos and don&#039;ts of giving out your social security number" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your Social Security number should be among your biggest secrets, but there are times when you'll have to give it out. If you accept a job, your new employer will need a copy of your Social Security card on file, and you'll be asked to provide your number when opening a bank account or applying for a loan. But although it's common practice to share your number in certain situations, you don't have to give your number just because you're asked to do so.</p> <p>If your Social Security number falls into the wrong hands, someone could open credit accounts in your name and steal your identity. Once your identity is compromised, your credit score can suffer the consequences, and it could become harder to purchase a house and get other types of financing.</p> <p>The good news is that there's plenty you can do to keep your number safe. Here are a few dos and don'ts for giving out your Social Security number. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-comprehensive-guide-to-identity-theft-everything-you-need-to-know?ref=seealso">The Comprehensive Guide to Identity Theft: Everything You Need to Know</a>)</p> <h2>1. Don't Respond to Emails Asking to Confirm Your Social Security Number</h2> <p>This is one of the oldest <em>phishing </em>tricks in the books.</p> <p>Here's how it works: You receive an email from a company claiming to be your personal bank or credit card issuer. The email will state that the company needs to update your account information, at which point you're asked to click a link and confirm your Social Security number and other information. Some thieves may even call your house phishing for information.</p> <p>No matter how real or official an email or phone call appears, remember that your bank or credit card company will never call or send an email requesting your personal data. Ignore these correspondences and report fraudulent activity to the Federal Trade Commission. Let your bank or credit card company know about the fraud, and you can forward phishing emails to <a href="mailto:spam@uce.gov">spam@uce.gov</a>.</p> <h2>2. Do Ask About the Reason for Requesting Your SSN</h2> <p>There are many reasons why a company might ask for your Social Security number. In some cases, the reasons are legitimate. For example, if you're getting a home security system, the security company may ask for your Social Security number. This is likely because the security agreement is a two or three-year contract, and the company needs to run a credit check to see if you meet the credit requirements. But this doesn't mean you should hand over your number without a fight. Make sure you understand why a company needs your personal information. If you don't agree or feel comfortable with their explanation, don't give out your number.</p> <p>This rule also applies to family and friends who ask for your Social Security number. It doesn't matter if it's your parents, your brother, or your favorite cousin; there are few reasons why anyone would need your number. One example of a legitimate reason is if a relative names you as the beneficiary on his or her life insurance policy. The insurance company will need your Social Security number.</p> <h2>3. Do Offer an Alternative Way to Identify Yourself</h2> <p>Some companies rely on Social Security numbers to identify account holders. If you call your utility company or your cable company's customer service, the rep on the other end may ask for your number to pull up your account faster. This is a legitimate and innocent reason. But before you give out your number, ask the customer service rep if there's another way to find your account. You might be able to skip giving out your Social Security number if you have your account number handy, or you may only need to provide the last four digits of your SSN.</p> <h2>4. Don't Shout Your Number in Earshot of Others</h2> <p>If you go to the bank to make a loan payment and ask the teller for a payoff amount, the bank may require two methods of identification, such as your driver's license and your Social Security number. It's important to be aware of your surroundings when giving out your number. You'll want to keep your number private and still get the information you need. Some banks have keypads, which allow customers to type in their own Social Security number so they don't have to speak the number out loud. If this isn't an option, ask the teller or representative for a scratch sheet of paper. Write down your Social Security number so that the rep can enter the number into the computer. Once your number is entered, ask for the paper back and then scratch out the numbers and shred the paper.</p> <h2>5. Do Check Your Credit Report</h2> <p>It doesn't matter how careful you are with your Social Security number, there's always the risk of your information falling into the wrong hands. Hackers can break into a company or organization's computer system and steal account holder information. For that matter, don't ignore checking your own credit report at least once a year. Pulling your own credit history doesn't hurt your credit score. You can order a free copy of all three reports annually from AnnualCreditReport.com.</p> <p><em>Have you given out your Social Security number before and it turned out to be a mistake? How do you protect yourself today? Let's chat in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-after-losing-your-social-security-card">What to Do After Losing Your Social Security Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-you-must-immediately-do-after-losing-your-smartphone">8 Things You Must Immediately Do After Losing Your Smartphone</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-soda-tidy-a-room-in-three-minutes-cure-a-hangover-and-become-a-movie-extra-phew">How To Make Your Own Soda, Tidy A Room In Three Minutes, Cure A Hangover And Become A Movie Extra. Phew!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Life Hacks fraud protection identity theft personal information social security number ssn Thu, 11 Feb 2016 12:00:05 +0000 Mikey Rox 1653874 at http://www.wisebread.com