Steps for Reporting Identity Theft

steps after identity theftYour wallet contains some of your most important personal items, from hard-earned money to credit cards and driver’s license. For an identity thief, your wallet offers a treasure trove of personal information. If your wallet is lost or stolen: If you suspect or become a victim of identity theft, follow these steps:

  • Report it to your financial institution. Call the phone number on your account statement or on the back of your credit or debit card.
  • Report the fraud to your local police immediately. Keep a copy of the police report, which will make it easier to prove your case to creditors and retailers.
  • Contact the credit-reporting bureaus and ask them to flag your account with a fraud alert, which asks merchants not to grant new credit without your approval.

If your identity has been stolen, you can use an ID Theft affidavit to report the theft to most of the parties involved. All three credit bureaus and many major creditors have agreed to accept the affidavit. You can download the ID theft affidavit or request a copy by calling toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). You can also use this website to file a complaint with the FTC.

Use this helpful infographic (PDF file) to help you remember the steps to take if your wallet or identity have been stolen.

11 Tips for Preventing Identity Theft

Identity thieves steal your personal information to commit fraud. They can damage your credit status and cost you time and money restoring your good name. To reduce your risk of becoming a victim, follow the tips below:

  1. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
  2. Protect your PIN. Never write a PIN on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet.
  3. Watch out for “shoulder surfers”. Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using pay phones and ATMs.
  4. Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for more than a day or two.
  5. Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
  6. Keep your receipts. Ask for carbons and incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
  7. Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, etc., to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information.
  8. Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work. Don’t leave it lying around.
  9. Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online.
  10. Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
  11. Check your credit report once a year. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gotten access to your account information.

7 points to consider before you buy any insurance policy

insurance tipsWhen buying insurance, whether its home, life, auto, rental or other:

  1. Find out whether your state insurance department offers any information concerning insurance companies and rates. This is a good way to get a feeling for the range of prices and the lowest-cost providers in your area.
  2. Check several sources for the best deal. Try getting quotes from an insurance focused website, but be aware that many online services may provide prices for just a few companies. An independent insurance agent that works with several insurers in your local area might be able to get you a better deal.
  3. Make sure the insurance company is licensed and covered by the state’s guaranty fund. The fund pays claims in case the company defaults. Your state insurance department can provide this information.
  4. Check the financial stability and soundness of the insurance company. Ratings from A.M. BestStandard and Poor’s, and Moody’s Investors Services are available online and at most public libraries.
  5. Research the complaint record of the company. Contact your state insurance department or visit the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which has a database of complaints filed with state regulators.
  6. Find out what others think about the company’s customer service. Consumers can rate homeowner insurance companies at J.D. Power’s website.
  7. Once you pay your first insurance premium, make sure you receive a written policy. This tells you the agent forwarded your premium to the insurance company. If you don’t receive a policy within 60 days, contact your agent and the insurance company.

If you suspect fraud, call the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s hotline at 1-800-835-6422. Or for more information, check out the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud website

Some Fun Facts About Money

  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces 26 million notes a day, with a face value of approximately $907 million.
  • Over 90 percent of U.S. currency is Federal Reserve notes.
  • A stack of currency one-mile high would contain more than 14.5 million notes.
  • Currency is actually fabric composed of 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton.  Currency paper has tiny red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths evenly distributed through out the paper.
  • The $2 bill first originated on June 25, 1776, when the Continental Congress authorized issuance of the $2 denominations in “bills of credit for the defense of America.”
  • The first dollar coin was issued in 1782.
  • The dollar was officially adopted as our nation’s unit of currency in 1785.
  • The largest bill ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 gold certificate.
  • The U.S. Secret Service was created during the Civil War to fight counterfeiting.
  • The motto “In God We Trust” did not appear on paper currency until 1963.
  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has two facilities, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Fort Worth, Texas.  Together they use approximately 9.7 tons of ink per day.
  • The approximate weight of a bill is one gram.  Since there are 454 grams in one pound, there are 454 notes in one pound.
  • The largest note produced today is the $100 bill.
  • It costs approximately 6.4 cents per note to produce U.S. currency.
  • About 45 percent of the notes printed each year are $1, and 95 percent are used as replacement notes.
  • About 4,000 double folds (forward and backward) are required before a note will tear.
  • The average life of a Federal Reserve note depends upon its denomination:
    $1 bill – 21 months
    $5 bill – 16 months
    $10 bill – 18 months
    $20 bill – 2 years
    $50 bill – 4.5 years
    $100 bill – 7.5 years