October 7th, 2010 Archive

Keep Your Financial Identity Secure

October 7th, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

You work hard for your money and it’s only fitting that you protect every single cent filed under your name. More than the money, your safeguard should be for your financial identity. Cases of identity theft world-wide have been increasing. Statistics reported an 11% increase in incidents from 2008 to 2009 alone.

Identity theft used to be as simple as losing your wallet and finding out later on that someone used your credit card and IDs to make a purchase. Usually, this can easily be prevented by immediately calling your credit card company to report the loss and cancelling the card. It used to be that this kind of activity could easily be brought to the owner’s attention, say in about a month’s time.

Not anymore. Identity theft is now much more sophisticated and has included financial and credit fraud, sometimes, only made known to the owner after months, or even years. Identity robbers go “phishing” on the net for financial data that they can use – credit card numbers, billing addresses, birthdates and mother’s maiden names. They then use this new identity to make an online purchase, or even take out loans from various financial institutions.

In the February issue of Healthy Wealthy n Wise, John Sileo, once a victim of identity theft and data breach, and is now America’s leading identity theft speaker & expert, talks about how you can Discover and Recover from Identity Theft in 2010.

John lists 3 easy steps:

1. Create a dossier of all your financial accounts and put in a fire-safe.

2. Order and monitor your credit report at least every 4 months.

3. Set-up account alerts that notifies you for every bank, credit card or investment activity.

John’s suggestions may sound simple and easy, but believe me; it takes a lot of conscientious effort to secure all these. Prevention is the best thwart to theft and just like keeping your homes secured, your doors and windows bolted at night, your financial identity should be kept safe away from people with criminal minds and intentions.

Read the reports

When my mail comes in, I sort them out in 3 categories– To-read, To-reply-to, and To-File. When it comes to bank statements and credit card bills, my usual habit is to take a quick glance at the bottom figure, check how much I have and how much I have to pay. If you’re like me, I seldom go through every single line of debit, credit, or purchase. Which I now know is wrong! <g>

John suggests regular monitoring – request for a quarterly report of all your bank and credit card statements. I think I’ll start with meticulously poring over each item in the monthly statement. <g> Our frequent travels mean that our bank statements and credit card usage crosses continents as well. I need to be detail-oriented with time and places of deposits, withdrawals and credit card activity. With frequent travel too means that Ric’s and my cards are vulnerable to credit card fraud! More reason for us to be disciplined in monitoring all account activities!

Keep confidential information confidential!

Some banks use birthdates and mother’s maiden names for verification. Unless necessary, don’t be too loose with these information. Even calling out credit card numbers over the phone where someone can hear you and jot it down for “future use” should be avoided. Password protect or encrypt sensitive information regarding your finances, and when no longer needed, shred confidential documents before throwing them into the trashcans. Believe it or not, some identity robbers go through our trash bins for information that they can use.

Shop where it’s safe

The World Wide Web is a huge databank of information. Identity robbers and hackers see this is a gold mine of information, data and identity that they can steal and use for fraud and criminal activity. Be careful when sites ask you to type in your credit card number, birthday and other information. This information is required from us when we make online purchases. You don’t know as to whose hands this information falls on. Make purchases only in sites that you can trust with secure shopping carts. Check credibility ratings of vendors to ensure that it’s a legitimate transaction.

A good amount of caution and prudent monitoring can help you thwart identity theft. Only you have the right to use your hard earned money, and only you have the right to use your well-kept name. <g>

There’s no need to get crazy about identity theft – but it doesn’t hurt to take a few prudent precautions.

‘Til next time, friends.

Keep safe!

Image by: vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net