Organized finances will help you make better decisions about your money. Many of us believe that a higher income ensures financial stability. Unfortunately, poor spending habits carry over regardless of salary. Being organized with your financial affairs requires proper planning, discipline and sometimes, significant changes to your everyday life. Money is the number one cause of arguments between spouses or significant others. Avoid living paycheck to paycheck…do you ever feel that there’s too much month at the end of the money? Saving for the future – retirement, college education, or to buy a house Prepare for the unexpected, whatever it may be.
These are the 8 basic topics we will cover.
Most people who have money didn't get it overnight. They set goals and worked hard to reach them. Financial goals take planning, patience and a willingness to work hard. They require discipline and, sometimes, changes to your lifestyle. There are three types of goals: Short-term goals. These are goals you'll set and accomplish within one month to one year . Goals can include birthday gifts, holiday gifts, taking a family vacation, paying off a credit card or buying household appliance. Mid-term goals. These are goals you'll set and accomplish within one to five years . Goals can include paying off all your credit cards, purchasing a new car, remodeling your kitchen or saving for orthodontic work for your children’s teeth. Long-term goals. These are goals you'll set that will take five years and longer to accomplish. Goals can include buying a new house, saving for a child's education (college or trade school) or saving for retirement.
Tips for achieving goals: Write down your goals. This makes you responsible for them! Figure out what the goal will cost…this may be easy for short-term goals, but for long-term goals, you may seek the help of a financial professional or financial software. Set due dates for attaining your goals. Be realistic. (Don't increase financial stress in your life when setting goals and dates.) Be flexible. (It's okay to adjust your goals and strategies.) Remember to prioritize your goals, focusing on the most important ones first. It’s ok to have more than one financial goal, just remember that you will only have some much money to put towards each one. Putting a little bit of money towards a lot of goals may not be as effective as putting all or most of your money toward your most important goal, and then focusing on the other goals once you achieve it. Review your goals. (Go back and look at your goals at least every six months to check your progress.)
We live in a society that has taught us to &quot;buy now, pay later.&quot; This method has caused some consumers to overspend and become knee-deep in debt. You need to take control of your spending and realize that your financial situation can be improved with proper budgeting. Unless you're tracking your money, it's probably not going where you really need and want it to go. A household budget is a spreadsheet that shows you the flow of money in your everyday life. A budget can help you determine where you are overspending as well as help you adjust bad spending habits. A budget is comprised of four areas: Net Income. Includes your salary, wages, child or alimony support, Social Security, pension, investment earnings, etc. Net income is the amount you bring home after deductions (such as taxes, insurance, pension contributions). Net income is used to maintain a household budget, which pays all your living expenses and debts in your everyday life. Living Expenses. Includes your food, utilities, insurance (auto, life and health), education, gasoline, personal care, child support, charitable contributions, entertainment, etc. Secured Debts. Includes your rent or mortgage payment, student loans, auto payments, past-due taxes and other secured debts and loans. Unsecured Debts. Includes your credit cards, department store cards, medical bills, bank and personal loans. The amount of money that is left over is your disposable income. If the number is negative, then you have a deficit and you may want to seek the advice of a financial professional. When you prepare a household budget, you can predict monthly net income and monthly living expenses. When you subtract monthly living expenses from monthly net income, you can monitor your cash flow. Understanding your cash flow will help you see how much &quot;disposable net income&quot; you have left over each month to save toward your financial goals.
Tips to budgeting: Track your spending; The most common and simple way to track spending is to take a piece of paper (or use a computer) and write down all your monthly living expenses and other monthly bills. Based on your monthly net income, you should set &quot;target amounts&quot; per expense (such as $200 for food, $100 for entertainment, etc.). By setting target amounts, you can monitor where you are overspending each month. Overspending leads to financial problems. Look for expenses to cut back on. Each month review your expenses. By doing this, you'll be able to see where overspending is occurring and adjust it accordingly. Use this information to set a monthly budget that includes putting money aside for savings. Get in the habit of &quot;paying yourself first&quot; by establishing a savings account. This will allow you to set aside money for emergencies and other financial needs. Using financial software such as Quicken or Money makes it easier to create a budget and track spending.
First, you need to control the emotions and impulses that stimulate your desire to spend money. Second, you should keep close track of what you spend so you can stretch your dollars as far as they can go, whether it's buying food, clothes, or paying monthly household bills. Ask yourself, &quot;What can I realistically do without?&quot; In addition, you should be able to cut back on personal care, hobbies and entertainment. Tips for saving money: Cut back on home energy consumption. (Turn lights off more frequently, eliminate unneeded options on your phone plan and wrap your water heater. For those living in the barracks, you may not be able to save money in all of these areas, but you can evaluate your cell phone plan (I.e. cut back on text messaging) and you can drop your cable. Shop at outlet stores or wholesale clubs and the commissary instead of grocery stores (When shopping, always shop using a list, not by impulse. Sticking to a list will control your spending. Try to use coupons when possible and buy generic brands instead of brand names.) Bringing your lunch to work is an easy way to save $1000 --- if you’re spending $7 per day to buy your lunch , and it would cost $3 per day to pack, that saves you $20 per week, $80 per month, $960 for the year! If you can eat at the DFAC for free, the amount of savings is closer to $1700. Take advantage of free or low-cost services and recreational activities in your community. Why pay full price if you don’t have to? Don’t give in to convenience! Even if you pack your lunch or eat for free, buying snacks at the shoppette or vending machines kills your disposable income…if you know you want snacks, buy them at the commissary. Remember, the more convenient it is for you, the more it will cost you!
Once you have your budget under control, you can start saving. A solid savings program begins with savings goals and the discipline to put money away regularly, even if it is only a small amount. Everyone should have money set aside for emergencies, such as car troubles, home repairs, or job-loss. Another name for this is a rainy-day fund; you need to be prepared for when it rains. A credit card is not an emergency fund! If you have an emergency that involves loss of income, how will you pay the bill? It’s much better to have the money liquid, then you can pay yourself back without interest. A rule of thumb is that you should have between 3 and 6 months of your expenses and debt obligations in a liquid savings account at the bank for your emergency fund. When you have an adequate emergency fund, you can start budgeting money to put towards your financial goals, remembering to start with the goal that is most important to you. Consider saving as part of your budget; it is a bill, not an extra bonus. Once you get it in your mind that it is something you must do, it will become second nature. If you only save when you feel like it, those conveniences and avoidable expenses will control you, instead of the other way around. You may have 300 DVD’s, and nice rims on your car, but you will never achieve your financial goals. Always pay yourself first.
The Social Security Administration has determined that if significant changes are not made, they will be out of money by the year 2037. When will you be retiring? Will social security be there? Using tax shelters is a good idea when saving for a long-term goal like retirement. Tax shelters allow your money to grow more efficiently because you are not paying taxes on your earning each year. The TSP and IRAs are great tax shelters, which we will discuss in the next couple of slides. The earlier that you begin to invest, the longer you have to allow for compounding interest. Compounding occurs when you earn interest on the amount your invest, and then you earn interest on that interest. This has a snowballing effect, as you earn more interest on larger amounts. Compounding is one of the most powerful concepts in all of personal finance, and the earlier you invest, the longer you have to allow your money to grow. In addition, one of the best ways to invest is by setting up ways to do so automatically - either buy electronic funds transfers or out of your pay. This will create a habit pattern which will help you accumulate more than if you invested every so often, or when you remember to do so. It will also allow you to take advantage of dollar cost averaging, which means that, over time, as you invest as the market fluctuates, your average cost per share is reduced.
The Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, is a government sponsored retirement plan that is similar to a 401k plan. When you are investing in the TSP, you elect to have the Army withhold a portion of your pay to invest for your retirement. The amount that you have withheld is taken out of your LES before taxes, which means you are not taxed on this portion of your pay. Basically, the government is subsidizing your retirement. Since the account is tax sheltered, you will not pay any taxes on the money that you earn in the account, however, when you withdraw the money, you will be taxed on the whole amount at that time. Also, since this is a retirement account, the IRS will charge a 10% penalty if you withdraw any money prior to 59 ½. This account is your money! It will go with you even when you leave the Army. You can keep it in the TSP, move it to an IRA, or roll it into a new employer’s qualified retirement program (401k). Currently, for active duty, there are generally no matching funds, unless it was included in your contract when you enlisted. The money withheld is then sent to your account with TSP. You get to choose how the money is invested in your account. There are 5 funds to choose from: the G, F, C, S and I. You can put your money all into one fund, a few of the funds, or you can spread it into all five funds; it’s up to you how it is invested. There are also special funds called Lifestyle funds. These funds adjust automatically and are set by specific time periods – there is the L Income, the 2010, 2020, 2030, and 2040. Ideally you would choose the one for the year closest to which you will ultimately retire (not just retire from the Army). These are “cookie cutter” funds and have a “set it, and forget” approach to investing. More information can be found at the TSP website (www.tsp.gov). The most that you can put into your TSP in 2009 is $16,500 ($49,000 if deployed). If you are over 50, you can put in an additional $5500 in catch-up contributions. You can additionally use IRAs to save for retirement, which we will talk about next.
IRA stands for “Individual Retirement Account,” which is technically inaccurate. The IRA is not actually an account, but it is how you’d like the account to treated for tax purposes. Basically any account can be an IRA – you simply tell the bank or financial institution this when you set up the account. There are two types of IRAs: Traditional and Roth. A traditional IRA works very much like the TSP. You will get a tax deduction for the year in which you contribute – just like the TSP, only you will get this deduction when you file your federal taxes. You will not have to pay taxes on your earnings the entire time you have money in the account. When you withdraw money, the entire amount is taxable. Money taken out prior to 59 ½ will be charged a 10% penalty by the IRS. A Roth IRA is similar, but there are some major differences. You do not get a tax deduction when you contribute – it is all done with money you’ve already paid taxes on. You also will pay no taxes on any of the earning while your money is in the account. When you withdraw the money, it is 100% tax free (as long as you’ve had the account for 5 years). Money taken out prior to 59 ½ will be charged a 10% penalty by the IRS. For most active duty Soldiers and their Families, the Roth IRA is usually the best option, because they usually are already in a low tax bracket and do not need a tax deduction. If both work, and using a Traditional IRA would substantially lower your tax liability, then this might be the best option for you, but in most cases, the benefit of having tax free money at retirement will outweigh the tax deduction. “ Who can have an IRA?” is a trick question; usually someone, or everyone, says “anyone,” which is not true. In order to put money into an IRA, you will need to have earned income. You can also use part of your earned income to contribute to an IRA for your spouse if they do not have earned income. You could even start an IRA for your children if they’ve earned money, maybe from babysitting or cutting grass. Since the IRA is not in and of itself an account, but simply how your account is treated for taxes, you can use almost any type of investing or savings instrument to fund it. Most often people use mutual funds, stocks, and bonds, but you could also use property, collections, futures, certificates of deposits, or just a regular old savings account. For 2009, you can contribute up to $5,000 per person (not per account!). If you are over the age of 50, you can contribute an additional $1,000 to “catch-up.” This last question is also a trick question, because the answer is technically “0” because you do not have to have an IRA. The reason why we ask it is to point out that with many mutual funds, you can begin investing with as little as $25 or $50 per month – you don’t have to put the full $5,000 in!
We talked earlier about having emergency savings for when it rains, but what happens if it rains so hard that you lose your home, property, or, your greatest asset, your ability to make money? That’s where insurance comes in; it protects you and your family from losing everything when something really bad happens. Life insurance provides your beneficiaries money that won’t replace you, but will help to replace your income. A rule of thumb is that you should have 10 times your income in life insurance. This way, if you die too young, your loved ones will have enough money to pay off debts and be able to maintain the same standard of living that you currently enjoy. Life insurance is not like winning the lottery, but should be considered as the last paycheck that you will give to your family. There are 2 types of life insurance, term and whole life. Term is temporary, and usually lasts for a predetermined period of time, such as 10, 15 or 20 years or until age 65. Term is used to cover temporary obligations, such as a mortgage, but more often than not it expires before you die. Whole life is designed to last for as long as you live, and you usually make payments (or premiums) until then, but some policies are more flexible. Whole life insurance is more expensive than term, because it is guaranteed to pay a beneficiary when you die. Because of this, many people have a combination of term life and whole life. Keep in mind, just because your spouse may not work, does not mean that he or she does not provide an economic benefit to the family. Think of all the things that you would have to pay someone else to do if you no longer had your spouse. This is why the military allows you to buy group life insurance on your family members, but you should really have an analysis done to make sure that you are both properly covered. Another risk that threatens your family’s well-being is a short or long-term disability. Usually if you are on disability, you will receive some pay, but not as much as if you were working. On top of that, depending on the type of disability, you may have increased expenses, and you may never get back to work. If this happened to you, the Army may take care of you, but does your spouse have the same benefit? Think what it would mean to your financial situation if he or she were to become disabled and you were not protected. Everyone has, or should have auto insurance. Why? Because it is the law. You may however want to review your policy to make sure that you are properly covered. Sometimes making a few changes can save you hundreds of dollars a year, on the other hand, if you have only the minimum coverage you may be over-exposing yourself to personal liability if you cause an accident. Most homeowners have insurance on their homes because the bank makes you. But for those that rent, you should have a renter’s policy that protects your possessions in the event of a fire or theft. They are usually very inexpensive, check with your insurance provider. Also, some homeowners opt to have an umbrella insurance policy in addition to their home and auto insurance. This covers them over and above the policy limits in the event that they are sued for a large sum of money. Again, this type of coverage is very inexpensive, and you should consult your insurance carrier for details. Finally, long-term care insurance has been gaining popularity as baby-boomers move into retirement. Long-term care insurance is used to protect assets, such as your home and your nest egg, from nursing homes if you require their care. For the most part, they help you stay in your home longer, delaying the move to a nursing home or long-term care facility, by allowing you to pay others to take care of you in your home. Long-term care insurance is usually expensive, and a rule of thumb is: if you can afford to pay for it, then you need it, if you can’t afford it, you don’t.
Borrowing can help you meet your long-term goals for education, car or home. It is also ok to use credit if the benefit to you outweighs the cost of borrowing. But borrowing for day-to-day needs and wants gets many people into financial trouble. Before using your credit cards, obtaining a payday loan or borrowing against your home's equity, ask yourself if you really need to borrow the money. You should never use debt unless absolutely necessary. Keeping the debt is like having an investment that always loses you money. Tips for using debt with caution: Avoid spur-of-the-moment purchases. Think of it this way: ask yourself, would I go to the bank to get a loan to buy this? That is what you are doing each time you use your credit card. Do not use your credit card unless you pay it off at the end of the month, in fact, leave it at home. Never borrow from one credit account to pay another account. Develop a debt reduction strategy to eliminate your debt. If you have debt, I would suggest this be your number one priority. Start with the smallest amounts first, pay as much on that account as you can afford until it is paid off, paying only the minimum payment on your other accounts. Then use the money that you were paying toward that account to pay off your next smallest account, until, eventually you have all of your debt paid off. Some call this the debt snowball. You can use a spreadsheet, like excel, to calculate the strategy, or you can use a program like Quicken or Money, which is much easier and will even alert you if you fall off of the plan.
Credit card companies, lenders and other financial institutions use credit reports as a main reference when deciding to issue a credit card, increase a credit line or loan money. Insurance companies, landlords and employers also check credit reports. If your credit report shows late payments (30, 60 or 90 days), collections or charge-offs, this could have a negative affect on your chances of obtaining additional credit. Tips for protecting your credit: Pay your bills on time. If you're having trouble paying bills, contact your creditors, a reputable non-profit credit counseling agency, debt negotiation company or other professional before becoming delinquent. Check your credit report every six months from all three bureaus to make sure that payments, balances and accounts are being accurately posted on your report. Credit bureaus can sometimes make mistakes if the information that is supplied by the creditor is wrong. Alert the three credit bureaus if you see mistakes in your report.
Check your credit report every six months from all three bureaus to make sure that payments, balances and accounts are being accurately posted on your report. Credit bureaus can sometimes make mistakes if the information that is supplied by the creditor is wrong. You can check it for free once a year by going to www.annualcreditreport.com Alert the three credit bureaus if you see mistakes in your report.
Use a computer. You should consider purchasing a financial software package like Quicken or Money. These programs can organize your paychecks, monthly bills you pay, itemize your home furnishings, assets, bank accounts, and investments. In addition, it will outline what you have spent in specific areas (like food, clothes, etc) throughout the year. Make sure you set aside time to properly organize and maintain your files. Keep your financial, estate, and family documents in a fireproof safe, with copies in a safe deposit box. Always shred documents you are going to throw out. Make sure someone, either your spouse or power of attorney, can open the safe and has access to the safe deposit box.
Since the 1990's, identity theft has increased and become a serious problem in our country today. Identity theft takes place when a criminal obtains someone's identifying information and sells it or misuses it to commit fraud or theft. With certain information, a criminal can assume your identity and commit various crimes in your name, such as applying for loans and credit cards, opening credit accounts with various stores, withdrawing money from your bank accounts, writing checks, obtaining cell phones and running up large debts. Individuals that have had their identity stolen can spend months or years and thousands of dollars cleaning and repairing their credit record, all because their identifying information was stolen and misused. This information can include: Name, address, phone numbers and email address Bank statements and account numbers Credit card numbers Social Security number Income (paychecks) and pay stubs Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to obtain your identifying information and take over your identity. They can: Stealing your wallet or purse, therefore, obtaining your identification, credit and bank cards. Stealing your mail from your home mailbox, therefore, obtaining credit cards statements, bank statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, new credit cards, tax information and more. By obtaining your mail, they can change your address and divert your mail to another location. Sifting through your trash cans (this is known as &quot;dumpster diving&quot;) at your home or business looking for personal data, such as copies of checks, credit card or bank statements, or other records. These types of records make it easy for a criminal to damage your assets, credit and reputation. Posing as a credit lender and mailing you a phony pre-approved letter requesting your identifying information. If you sign and supply your identifying information, they can obtain your credit report. They may also send you an email posing as a bank or other financial institution asking you to verify your account information. This is known as phishing. Obtaining identifying information that you have shared with businesses on the Internet. Stealing your identifying information from your home, your place of employment, your school and the hospital that you may have visited. There is no limit to what a criminal will do to obtain your identifying information.
Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Do not use your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your street address as passwords. Try to use a password that is not easily available or can be identified. When possible, use a combination of letters and numbers. Get rid of unused credit accounts. If you have credit cards that are active but not in use, you should close those accounts. By closing those accounts you can reduce the chances of a thief stealing any mail pertaining to those accounts from your mailbox. Don't carry excess credit cards. Avoid carrying excess credit cards in your wallet, in case it's stolen. Safeguard your mail. Never place outgoing mail in your mailbox at home. Instead, use the post office collection boxes located in your community or better yet, take it to your local post office. Try to have your mail removed promptly on a daily basis. If you go on vacation, call the post office and ask for a &quot;vacation hold&quot; on your mail. Safeguard your trash. Always shred your personal information before throwing it into a trash bin. Shred information such as charge receipts, copies of credit applications or offers, insurance forms, medical statements, checks, bank statements, utility bills and anything that has your identifying information printed on it. Beware of people who call your home. Many identity thieves will call you and claim to be representatives from your bank, the IRS, or even a government official. They are hoping to gain your trust and persuade you to give them your identifying information. We recommend that before you give out your identifying information you: (1) ask for the number that they are calling from, (2) look up that bank, company or person in the phone book or dial information (411), and (3) call the number and confirm why they are requesting your information. Secure personal information at home. We recommend that you purchase a file cabinet that locks in order to safeguard your identifying information, especially if you have roommates or employ outside help like a babysitter or service person. Secure your computer. A computer can be a goldmine to an identity thief, especially if you store identifying information, such as your Social Security number, financial records, tax returns, birth dates, credit card numbers and bank accounts. Many people use a computer to organize their financial life. Here are some tips to keep your computer and identifying information safe: Tip 1 - Update your virus protection software regularly and when a new virus alert is announced. Tip 2 - Do not download files sent to you by someone you don't know or click on hyperlinks. Opening a file could expose your system to a virus or a program that could hijack your modem and hard drive. Tip 3 - Install a firewall in your computer which will allow you to stop hackers from accessing your personal information. Tip 4 - Use a secure browser that will encrypt or scramble information you send over the Internet. Always keep your browser updated with the most up-to-date version from the manufacturer. Tip 5 - Do not use a laptop to store identifying information unless it is absolutely necessary. Be sure to use a strong password that has a combination of letter (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Do not use an automatic log-in feature that saves your user name and password. Always log off when you are finished. This will make it harder for a thief to access your identifying information if the laptop is stolen. Tip 6 - If you dispose of a computer, make sure that you delete all your identifying information. We recommend that you use a &quot;wipe&quot; utility program. This program will overwrite the entire hard drive and make the files unrecoverable.
If you believe that someone is using your identifying information to commit fraud or theft, you need to take immediate action. The government has created a worksheet called &quot; chart your course of action .&quot; This worksheet will guide you in the following areas: Contact the fraud department of each of the three major credit bureaus. They are: Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-680-7289). Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a &quot;fraud alert&quot; be placed in your credit file as well as your affidavit. Call the creditor or bank and close those accounts (credit cards, ATM/Check cards or checking) that you know or believe are being misused or have been opened fraudulently. Call your local police department and file a police report or contact the police in the community where the identity theft took place. In most cases, the bank, credit card company, or other financial companies will need proof of the crime in order to erase the debts created by the identity theft. If you can't obtain a copy of the report, make sure to get the report number. Call the Federal Trade Commission and report your identity theft. You can reach them at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); TDD 1-202-326-2502; by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580; or online: www.consumer.gov/idtheft . A counselor will take your complaint and advise you on how to deal with the credit-related problems that could result.
Organize Your Finances
WHY BOTHER? Get control of your money You earn it, you should decide where it goes Money is #1 Cause of Arguments Avoid living paycheck to paycheck Save for the future Retirement, College, Home Prepare for the unexpected Death, Disability, Deployment 2
Creating Financial Goals Budgeting Spending Saving Investing Managing Your Risk Understanding Credit and Debt Protect Your Identity 3
Short-Term 1 month to a year Vacation, gifts, paying off credit cards, etc. Mid-Term 1 year to 5 years Purchasing a car, remodeling, etc. Long-Term 5 years + Buying house, saving for college/retirement, etc. 4
Write them down! What will it cost? Don’t forget inflation! What is your timeframe? Set a due date Prioritize by importance Track your progress 5
Track your spending Cut your expenses Review monthly Use Financial Software Quicken,Money, Mint.com, etc. 7
Think before you make a purchase Control your emotions and impulsesS T R E T C H your money! What can you do without? Save $1000.00 Avoid convenience! 8
Emergency Fund 3 to 6 months of your expenses A credit card is not an emergency fund! Save toward goals Remember to prioritize Pay yourself first! 9
SocialSecurity?Use Tax ShelteredInvestmentsSave Early, Save Often 10
Government-Sponsored Retirement Plan Pre-tax Contributions No Matching Funds for military 5 Mutual Funds Options Lifestyle Funds combination of all 5 mutual fund options Can contribute to both TSP and IRAs 11
• What is an IRA?• Who can have an IRA?• What can be in an IRA? Stocks Mutual Funds Bonds Almost anything• What is the most you can put into an IRA?• What is the least you can put into an IRA? 12
Protecting your income and assets Life Insurance Term vs. Whole life Disability Insurance Property and Casualty Insurance Autoand Home Owner/Renter insurance Umbrella Policy Long-Term Care Insurance 13
When is it ok to use debt? Education,car or home purchases, or when the benefit outweighs the cost When is it not ok? Impulse buys, day to day purchases, payday loans, paying one credit card with another credit card Debt reduction strategy Create a plan and start today 14
Pay bills on time! Contact your creditors Clean up old, bad debt Avoid debt consolidation companies Seek help from a Financial Counselor 15
Check your credit report every 4 months www.annualcreditreport.com or 1-877-322-8228 Free service sponsored by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax Look for errors and correct mistakes 16
How long should I keep financial documents? Keep copies wills, insurance policies, and other important documents in a safe deposit box or fire-proof safe. Shred your documents before you dispose of them. Make sure a loved one has the combination to the safe and knows where the safe deposit box keys are located. Use Quicken or Money software 17
Identity theft Stealing your wallet or purse Stealing your mail Going through your trash Phishing through mail or email 18
1. Place passwords on your accounts2. Close unused accounts3. Avoid carrying credit cards4. Safeguard your mail5. Safeguard your trash6. Beware of people who call your home7. Secure personal information at home8. Secure your computer 19
Contact the credit bureaus Experian (888-397-3742) Transunion (800-680-7289) Equifax (800-525-6285) Contact the creditor or bank Call the police Call the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT Visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft 20