Posts Tagged ‘identity theft’

Equifax Hack Could Affect Burlington Mortgage Applicants-

When news of the Equifax hack first broke, the credit ratings giant scrambled to minimize fallout from this massive personal information breach. After an initial embarrassing misstep (they tried to have affected consumers sign off on Equifax’s liability), the company moved to ameliorate the hack by offering free ID protection to consumers.

Burlington homeowners and potential home buyers had reason to do more than shake their heads at yet another electronic pratfall. In one way or another, most Burlington real estate transactions involve creditworthiness appraisals that are managed by the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax is one). That means that among the 143 million consumers it admits could be “potentially impacted” are certainly a lot of current and future Burlington home buyers. The stolen information includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses—and for hundreds of thousands, credit card numbers. Even some Massachusetts driver license data figured in the Equifax hack.

Given the obvious potential for identity theft, the company’s Chairman went online to make an unprecedented offer: his firm will furnish a comprehensive package of credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to everyone. Literally.

To every consumer in the United States. For a year. For free.

With few exceptions, it was left to us to take the initiative to take them up on the offer. That factor might shrink the size of the undertaking, but even so, delivering on this scale was unlikely to be accomplished without a few hitches.

Hitch #1: when this many millions of people try to check in on any site, no system can handle it all at once. So contacting this Equifax Trusted ID Premier link results in varying lengths of delay before enrollment can be confirmed.

Hitch #2: because it is now obvious that sophisticated thieves are active in the credit reporting industry, it will be doubly necessary for Equifax to make certain that you are who you say you are. That makes multiple email confirmation back-and-forths unavoidable­­.

It’s a cinch that Burlington residents who decide to sign up for the free protection should also be extra vigilant in monitoring their financial transactions. An additional step is also possible: you can contact any one of the three credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian) to request that they place a 90-day “fraud alert” on your file. It’s free, and whichever agency you contact is required to notify the other two. Fraud alerts obligate any lender to contact you before they issue credit in your name. You can renew the alert as many times as you wish—and cancel at any point.

Your credit score is a vital ingredient when it’s time to look for favorable home loan offers, so even before the Equifax hack, it’s always been well worth protecting. Give me a call when questions about this or other Burlington real estate matters come up: I’ll be minding the phone!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Laer Realty Partners    Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

Preventing Identity Theft – Reprint from Homestead Funding Newsletter

Chuck Hirbour from Homestead Funding brings up an important point.  And identity theft can hurt the credit of someone looking for a home.  Check your credit at least once a year to be sure that your information is correct. Check your credit card statements for correctness.  And follow the suggestions in his article.

For the eleventh consecutive year, identity theft surpassed debt collection and internet services complaints as the most prevalent form of consumer fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which received almost 251,000 identity theft complaints last year. For the first time, “imposter scams” – where imposters posed as friends, family, respected companies or government agencies to get consumers to send them money – made the top 10.
Many consumers associate identity theft with email solicitations and computer firewall breaches, but checks, credit cards and Social Security numbers remain targets as well. To protect yourself from becoming a victim, follow these tips to prevent identity theft.
Checks
– Use your initials and last name when ordering printed checks. A check forger won’t know how you sign your checks, but your bank will. – Do not have your home phone number or Social Security number printed on your checks. Use your work phone number. Use a post office box or work address instead of your home address.
– Order new checks from your bank and pick them up at the bank, rather than having them sent to your home mailbox.
Credit cards
– When paying credit card bills, write only the last four digits of the account number in the check memo line. – Do not sign the back of your credit card — instead write, “Photo ID required.” – Photocopy both sides of your driver’s license, credit cards and other important contents of your wallet. In the event it is stolen, you’ll know exactly what is missing. – Keep a list of your credit card numbers and their toll-free customer service numbers so you can cancel cards quickly if lost or stolen. Keep the list in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet.
Social Security Number
– Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Memorize the number and put the original card in a safe place. – If you believe your Social Security number has been compromised, contact the Social Security Administration fraud line 800-269-0271.
PINs and Passwords
– Do not write your PIN on the back of the card or on anything else in your wallet. – Use different PINs for each debit and credit card. If you have too many to remember, consider reducing the number of cards you carry in your wallet. – Do not use easily available information, like your birth date, phone number or part of your Social Security number, for PINS and passwords.
Mail and Trash
– Use post office collection boxes for outgoing mail, rather than your home mail box. – Shred any trash that may contain personal information, including charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, medical statements, checks and bank statements, expired credit and debit cards and direct mail credit offers. – You can opt not to receive direct mail credit offers by calling 888-567-8688.
If your wallet is stolen, you should immediately:
– File a police report to document the theft and the wallet contents. – Contact one of the national credit reporting organizations (listed below) to have a fraud alert placed on your name and Social Security number. The organization you contact is required to contact the other two. If the thief’s purchases initiate a credit check, the credit reporting organization can alert the merchant. Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. – Equifax 800-525-6285 – Experian 888-397-3742 – Trans Union 800-680-7289 – Close all accounts for missing credit cards. Check your credit reports for accounts opened fraudulently. – File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which maintains a database of identity theft cases, online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft . This database assists law enforcement agencies and helps the FTC learn more about identity theft. – Notify your bank if your wallet contained a checkbook or debit/ATM cards
Chuck Hirbour    chirbour@homesteadfunding.com
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