Consumer Tips

Protect Your Identity

  • Guard your financial information closely. Never give out your bank card, credit card, social security number or financial information unless you initiated the transaction and you trust the merchant.
  • Beware of imposters. Cons may look and sound like a company or bank you do business with, but trusted merchants will never call you to obtain personal information. Only call a known company phone number and when online, never enter a website from an email—type the known URL into your browser.
  • Protect your snail mail. Pick it up promptly, have it picked up when you’re away, and if possible, get a secure, locked mailbox.
  • Shred all offers you receive by mail. Once your trash can is on the street for pickup, it is public property, so anyone can help themselves to what’s inside.
  • Lock your “valuables”. Keep a fire safe for important documents such as wills, titles, financial information, passports and social security cards. Use passwords to protect your computer, PDA, phone or any device that has identity information.
  • Memorize your passwords and PINs. Never keep them with cards, your wallet, your car or other identifying information.
  • Check your credit report regularly. It’s like going to the dentist…you don’t enjoy it, but doing it keeps you healthy and prevents problems later.
  • Want to know how to spot a fake or “phishing” website? Click Here

Telemarketing Fraud: Watch out for…

  • Pressure to act immediately (“offer valid for 24 hours only”)
  • Refusal to send you written information
  • Use of scare tactics (“if you don’t…you could lose your home”)
  • Demands for payment by wire or courier
  • Demands for payment of taxes or customs fees to claim a prize
  • Requests for your financial account numbers even though you’re not paying for something with them
  • Claims that you can make lots of money working from home
  • For information on how to get off mailing, emailing and telemarketing lists,click here.

Advance Fee Loans, Credit Service & Credit Card Offers

  • NEVER deposit a check you didn’t expect to get, since you’ll be responsible for it if it bounces
  • It’s against the law for telemarketers to charge any fees in advance if they claim that it’s likely that they can help you get a loan.
  • If you have poor credit or haven’t established a good credit record yet, it’s unlikely that anyone will lend you money, except at very high fees.
  • If you don’t qualify for a loan yourself, try finding a co-signer.
  • It isn’t necessary to pay another company to help you get a credit card, nor will it improve your chances of obtaining one.
  • It’s illegal to charge for a credit card before you receive it, and if they say you qualified, but they need your social security number, it’s a scam.
  • Federal law requires credit repair services to give you a explanation of your legal rights, a detailed written contract, and three days to cancel (this applies to for-profit services, not to nonprofit organizations, banks and credit unions, or the creditors themselves).
  • “Free” credit reports are not really free, so it’s best to contact the credit bureaus directly-Experian, TransUnion and Equifax-to request your credit history. By law you can obtain a free credit report once a year at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/. Immediately challenge anything you know to be false.

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