Safeguards Against I.D. TheftSubmitted by Larry Frank Sr. on Fri, 03/22/2013 - 12:00pmSomeone just stole your name, your Social Security number, your creditcard information. They ran up a big bill. What do you do? And how do youavoid it in the first place?When you get the dreaded news you’re a victim of identity theft, it’s ashock. This news takes a while to sink in. Can it be true? Who couldmasquerade as you? What are they doing as you? What damage havethey done? The questions never end. You are awash in anxiety. Nowwhat do you do?First, who contacted you about the theft? Are they reliable? Do you dobusiness with them, and how would they suspect identity theft?Sometimes identity thieves are fishing for information, and try to get it byalerting you to a theft that hasn’t occurred yet. They want you to identifyyourself – and reveal your secrets. In other words, stop and think beforeresponding to that alarming email.Some scammers have a great deal on gold to offer you. Or they pretendto be the Internal Revenue Service and ask you to reveal vital data. Readmore on scams in my blogs. If you Google “identity theft” you get manyresults, but concentrate at this point on the federal and state governmentofficial websites.Okay, so let’s say the warning appears to be real. Contact who notifiedyou – not by email. In person or by phone. How do they know about thescam? You’ll need that information to file a police report.A few consumer resources to help you resolve identitytheft are: IDtheft.gov, the Federal Trade Commission’sIdentity Theftsite, U.S. Department of Justice and the California Department ofJustice, in the state where I live, or Google your state’s DOJ for identitytheft help.
Here’s how to minimize your risk of identity theft:1. Be on guard when you are online. Some scammers, claiming to befrom a reputable company like Microsoft, call to tell you that yourcomputer is infected with viruses. They talk you into granting remoteaccess to your machine.I don’t necessarily endorse non-government websites. They are merelyprovided as possible additional resources. Consider carefully what youdo with any website before you enroll in a program, send money orprovide personal information. Most legitimate websites on thistopic provide services free of charge and don’t need personal informationto help you.2. See if you are you at risk before the unthinkable happens.MyIDScore.com is a free analytics site so you may check your risk andtake appropriate actions to reduce your risks.3. How honest is your tax preparer? Few people think of this, but yourpreparer gets all kinds of handy information that may also be used foridentity theft. Various states have sites to check out yours. Where I live,there’s the California Tax Education Council’s website to verify your taxpreparer. Are they legitimate? Look for helpful information links on theside panel navigation bar once on the site, especially the “Verify a TaxPreparer” link.4. Be especially careful about IRS scams. You won’t get a phone call oremail “out of the blue” from the IRS. You will get official correspondenceby snail mail first. Before you do anything, I suggest you talk to your taxpreparer who filled out your return. If you don’t have a tax preparer,contact a certified public accountant or tax lawyer.Many people fret about their data getting compromised on some serversomewhere. Those servers are getting harder for a common thief tocrack; and more sophisticated criminals are after bigger fish. So thecommon thieves go after the softer target – you.Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Adviser (California)in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He hasan MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics withwhich he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewedresearch published in the Journal of FinancialPlanning. www.blog.BetterFinancialEducation.com.AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financialadvisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area byspecialty. For instance, the rankings this week measure the number ofclients whose income is between $250,000 and $500,000 with thatadvisor. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristineregulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012,by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now,
investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only afew are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors areundergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.Topic:CrimePrivacy ProblemsPersonal Spending