Monitor Credit Reports to Guard Against Identity Theft
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"Monitor Credit Reports to Guard Against Identity Theft"

San Diego, CA  A generation or two ago we were admonished to see the dentist a couple of times a year for a checkup, see your physician at least once a year for a checkup and have your furnace filters and household smoke detector batteries checked twice a year. Now comes a new warning to check something else twice a year - your credit report. What are you to look for? Clues your Identity may have been stolen.

For the second year in a row, Identity Theft tops the list of consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) according to its annual report, detailing consumer complaints about identity theft, and listing the top 10 fraud complaint categories reported by consumers.

Amazingly, most people discover their identity has been stolen, after they have looked at their credit reports, when they see new accounts listed they did not open. Without the monitoring of credit reports, a couple of times a-year, consumers may learn of identity theft only when they are adversely contacted by creditors to make payments on unauthorized debts authorize or they are rejected for a loan.

The fallout for victims ranges from arrest for financial fraud - among other things, to having your driver's license revoked, to being sued, your being denied credit, insurance, a job or place to live. Worse, it can take up to seven, maybe ten years, just to set your records straight cautions the nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), a nonprofit consumer oriented group based in San Diego, CA.

Identity theft and consumer fraud are at the top of the list, accounting for 43 percent of the complaints lodged in the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database. The number of fraud complaints jumped from 220,000 in 2001 to 380,000 in 2002, and the dollar loss consumers attributed to the fraud they reported grew from $160 million in 2001 to $343 million in 2002.

Identity theft happens when an opportunity arises. Thieves are not very particular to one's age either, if there is a credit/debit card number to be had. An alarming twist, according to US Banker magazine, is parents who are stealing the identity of their underage children for a variety of reasons. According to the FTC, about six per cent of Identity Thefts were committed by family members. ID theft, including, but not limited to, your Social Security (SS) number, driver's license, bank accounts, PIN numbers, credit/debit card numbers is a relatively quick and easy crime, which often goes unnoticed for months, sometimes up to a year or longer.

Some insurance companies are offering, on a limited basis, Identity Theft insurance as an add-on to a homeowners policy. VISA is also offering limited Identity Theft insurance coverage, which would pay up to $15,000 to cover the costs and lost work time associated with fixing your records, should you become a victim.

For more information about protecting against identity theft, visit the U. S. Government's Web site on ID fraud: http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft and the National Fraud Information Center at http://www.fraud.org

To help with the monitoring of credit files, the ICFE is making available free 'credit file request' forms to consumers. Other helpful information on how credit files are created and maintained is also included. Now, if you are unemployed, on welfare, or have been denied credit , or had your identity stolen, your credit report is free, otherwise will cost $8 each, unless you live in a state which mandates a lower cost,

The free 'credit file request' forms have spaces for all the initial information needed by credit reporting agencies to locate your individual credit files. They also include the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the major credit reporting agencies operating in the United States. To obtain the free 'credit file request' forms and other credit file information send a 60 cent stamped, self-addressed envelope to: ICFE Credit File Request Forms, PO Box 34070 San Diego CA 92163-4070.

If you have been the victim of Identity Theft or if you have discovered mistakes in your credit files, the ICFE also publishes a "Do-It-Yourself Credit File Correction Guide,' still available for only $10. Included are step-by-step instructions, answers to the most often asked questions, consumer credit rights, sample letters to use when communicating with the various credit reporting agencies about credit file questions and difficulties and much more.

Send $10 (+ $2 postage) to: ICFE Credit File Guide U.S. PO Box 34070, San Diego, CA 92163. Visa/MasterCard orders please call 619-239-1401. Learn more about the ICFE and the "Do-It-Yourself Credit File Correction Guide" by visiting the ICFE's web site at: http://www.financial-education-icfe.org.

 

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the 'certified financial planner' (CFP) designation) and it is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. The ICFE trains and certifies Personal Finance Instructors for its own curriculum. It also trains and certifies Credit Report Reviewers and Identity Theft Prevention Specialists.

The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, now in its 16th printing and has distributed over one million 'Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels' and 'Credit/Debit Card Sleeves' world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.

The ICFE is also a partner in the national Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy and the California Jump$tart chapter. The ICFE staff is also active with San Diego Saves, an offshoot of America Saves, and the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) (studentdebthelp.org).

The ICFE's on-line help for consumers who spend too much was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from 'The Money Instruction Book,' a course in personal finance, positioned to become among the premier programs in the new bankruptcy and debtor education initiatives.

The ICFE Web site at: www.financial-education-icfe.org helps consumers with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and videos and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include a free eNews, and an online resource center of financial education learning tools, including videos, books, software and personal finance courses.

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