You are previewing 50 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY AND YOUR CREDIT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT, CREDIT CARDS, CREDIT REPAIR, AND CREDIT REPORTS.
O'Reilly logo
50 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY AND YOUR CREDIT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT, CREDIT CARDS, CREDIT REPAIR, AND CREDIT REPORTS

Book Description

Everything You Need to Know About Identity Theft, Credit Cards, Credit Repair, and Credit Reports

"The author substitutes straight talk for legal mumbo-jumbo in 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity and Your Credit. Reading this book is like getting a black belt in consumer self-defense."

–Jim Bohannon, host of The Jim Bohannon Show

"Identity theft is among the fastest-growing problems facing Americans today. This book will help you learn all you need to know to protect your lives, money, and security. Consider it your first stop in your quest for knowledge and guidance to prevent ID theft."

–Robert Powell, Editor of CBS MarketWatch

"As one who has lived through some of the nightmare scenarios discussed by the author,

I believe "Steve's Rules" (Chapter 14) need to be placed in a prominent place so you can see them any time you think you are safe. They may be the new practical commandments for financial survival."

–Doug Stephan, host of the Good Day nationally syndicated radio show

"Detecting and stopping identity thieves is imperative to protecting your finances and financial reputation. Steve Weisman shows you how to protect yourself and what steps to take if you are victimized. This is a must-read for anyone with a bank account and a credit card!"

–Bonnie Bleidt, Boston Stock Exchange Reporter, CBS4 Boston, Host of Early Exchange, WBIX

Don't be a victim! Save your identity, save your credit–and save a fortune!

10,000,000 Americans had their identities stolen last year–don't be the next!

Discover easy steps you can take now to reduce your vulnerability.

Recognize "phishing" and other identity scams–online and off.

Learn what you must do immediately if you've been attacked.

Defend yourself against credit rip-offs, and stop paying more than you have to!

It's all here: simple rules, handy checklists, even easy-to-use form letters!


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. 1. IDENTITY THEFT
    1. FTC Survey
    2. A Big Problem
      1. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow on Identity Theft
    3. Terrorism and Identity Theft
      1. Patriot Act
    4. What Do Identity Thieves Do?
    5. Phishing—Go Phish
      1. Phishing with a Pal
      2. Former Good Advice
      3. Two Things to Look For
      4. More Good Advice
      5. AOL Scam
      6. Phishing with a Large Net
      7. Phishing Around the World
    6. How Do You Know That You Have Been a Victim of Phishing?
    7. What You Can Do to Prevent Identity Theft
    8. Endnotes
  5. 2. MAKING YOURSELF LESS VULNERABLE TO IDENTITY THEFT
    1. Lottery Scams
    2. Vote for Me
    3. Do Not Call
    4. Cell Phone Cameras
    5. A Danger in the Workplace
    6. Identity Theft and the ATM
      1. A Primer on ATM Identity Theft
      2. What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft at the ATM?
      3. The Race to Catch an ATM Identity Thief
    7. Identity Theft and Young People
    8. Mailboxes and Identity Theft
    9. More Tips for Making Yourself Safer from Identity Theft
  6. 3. DANGER ON THE COMPUTER AND WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT
    1. Spyware
    2. What Can You Do About Spyware?
      1. It's Not Always Good to Share
      2. Just When You Thought It was Safe to Go Back to Your Computer
        1. The Lesson
    3. Wi-Fi: Something New to Worry About
    4. Stories
      1. A Towering Problem
      2. We Regret to Inform You
      3. Keys to Identity Theft
      4. If You Can't Trust Your Lawyer, Whom Can You Trust?
    5. What to Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
  7. 4. YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER—AN IDENTITY THIEF'S LUCKY NUMBER
    1. Driver's License
    2. When and Where Must You Provide Your Social Security Number?
    3. Should You Try to Get a New Social Security Number If Yours Has Been Used for Identity Theft?
    4. Restrictions on the Use of Social Security Numbers
    5. Not Even Safe After Death
    6. In the Navy
    7. Doctored Records
    8. New Definition of “Chutzpah”
    9. Workplace Identity Theft
      1. Looking for a Job
      2. I Gave at the Office
      3. Who Do You Trust?
      4. Another Inside Job
      5. Disgruntled Employee
      6. Temporary Worker—Long Time Problem
      7. Another Horror Story
      8. Preventing Identity Theft at Work
    10. Higher Education and Identity Theft
      1. School of Thieves
      2. Fool Me Once
      3. Oops
  8. 5. CRIMINAL IDENTITY THEFT,TAXES—AND MORE ARRESTING PROBLEMS
    1. Criminal Misidentification
      1. Hoisted with His Own Petard
      2. That's Me. That's Me. That's Not Me.
      3. Arrest Gone to Pot
      4. And You Thought You Had a Bad Day
      5. It's Not Just the Money
    2. What Should You Do If You Are the Victim of Criminal Identity Theft?
    3. Taxes and Identity Theft
      1. Tax Preparation and Identity Theft
        1. IRS Scam
        2. Multiple Tax Returns
        3. Another Taxing Form of Identity Theft
        4. More Tax Scams
        5. Tax Scam on Non-Resident Aliens
    4. Identity Theft and Investments
    5. Deadly Results of Identity Theft
    6. Urban Myth
    7. Stories
      1. Not So Happy Birthday
      2. It Can Happen to Anyone
      3. It's Not Nice to Fool with Mother Nature
      4. Belgian Waffling
    8. Battling the Companies with Which You Do Business
      1. Twice Victimized
      2. “The Same Old Watson! You Never Learn That the Gravest Issues May Depend Upon the Smallest Things.”
      3. Can't I Sue Somebody?
      4. And for Dessert, Your Credit Card
    9. Endnotes
  9. 6. TECHNOLOGY, BUSINESS, AND GOVERNMENT FIGHT IDENTITY THEFT
    1. High Tech Tactics to Combat Identity Theft
      1. Biometrics
      2. Garbage In—Garbage Out
      3. Privacy Concerns
      4. Oh, Grandma, What Big Ears You Have
      5. Voice Recognition
      6. The Future Is Now
      7. Retinal Scans
      8. Fingerprints
    2. Business Fights Back
    3. Identity Theft Insurance
    4. Culture of Security
    5. Just Do the Best You Can
    6. Endnotes
  10. 7. FINANCIAL PRIVACY PLEASE: THE GRAMM-LEACH-BLILEY ACT
    1. Safeguard Rules
    2. Pretexting
    3. Opt Out, Opt In
    4. Good Guys in Congress
    5. The Bottom Line
  11. 8. CREDIT CARDS
    1. The History of Credit
    2. Plastic Man
    3. Don't Leave Home Without It
    4. Very Interesting
    5. Trivia That Can Win You a Bar Bet
    6. Fees
      1. Annual Fee
      2. Minimum Finance Charge
      3. Cash Advance Fees
      4. Late Fees
      5. Over the Credit Line Fee
      6. Transfer Fees
      7. Returned Payment Fee
      8. Fine Print Warning
      9. Blocking
      10. Payment Tip
      11. Payment Tip Two
    7. Other Terms with Which You Should Be Familiar
      1. Grace Period
      2. Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
      3. Introductory Rate
      4. Fixed Rate
      5. Calculating Your Monthly Finance Charges
      6. Pre-approved
      7. Secured Cards
      8. Debit Card
      9. Personal Identification Number (PIN)
    8. Extra Card Benefits
      1. Cash Back
      2. Extended Warranty
      3. Purchase Protection
      4. Travel Discounts
      5. Rental Car Insurance
      6. Online Fraud Protection
      7. Reward Plans
      8. Picking a Card
      9. Gold Cards
      10. Zero Interest Credit Cards
      11. Credit Where Credit Is Due
  12. 9. FINE PRINT
    1. What Interest Rate Will You Pay?
    2. Diogenes Would Be Proud
    3. Late Fees
    4. Avoiding Late Fees
      1. It's the Fees
      2. Cash Advances
      3. Credit Card Disability Coverage
      4. Advance Fee Cards
      5. What Happens When Your Credit Card Is Sold?
      6. Oh, You Tease
      7. Risk-Based Pricing
    5. Transferring Balances
      1. The Ultimate Trap
      2. Is It Always a Good Deal Even If I Get the Advertised Rate?
      3. More Fine Print in the Balance Transfer Agreement
      4. Golden Rule—Credit Card Style
      5. The Only Thing Certain Is Change
      6. A Light at the End of the Tunnel
      7. A Few Things to Remember
      8. A Tip
      9. Their Holiday Gift to You
      10. Gambling with Your Credit Cards
      11. Fair Credit Billing Act
      12. Check the Address
      13. Critical Information
      14. Picky Little Detail
      15. Affect on Your Credit Rating
      16. What If the Investigation Rules Against You?
      17. Fine Print in Your Favor
    6. Endnotes
  13. 10. PROTECTION FROM CREDIT DISCRIMINATION
    1. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act
      1. Voluntary Disclosures for Monitoring Purposes
      2. What the Law Does and Does Not Do
      3. Credit Over 62
        1. Good News—Bad News
        2. Optimistic Lenders
      4. Who Are You Going to Call?
      5. For Love or Money
      6. Individual Accounts and Joint Accounts
      7. Credit Following a Divorce
  14. 11. CREDIT REPORTS
    1. Big Business
    2. How the System Works
    3. What Is in Your Credit Report?
    4. Who Has a Right to See Your Credit Report?
    5. Who Should Not Have Access to Your Credit Report?
    6. How Do I Obtain My Credit Report?
    7. Reviewing Your Credit Report
      1. Free Advice
      2. A Million Dollar Mistake
      3. Another Scary Story
    8. Credit Scoring
      1. If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them
      2. Do You Want to Know a Secret?
    9. The No-Longer Secret Formula
    10. What's Your Score?
      1. What Does Not Affect Your FICO Score?
      2. How Often Is Your FICO Score Updated?
      3. State Scoring
      4. Timeliness
    11. Your Credit Limit
      1. Why Would You Refuse a Credit Line Increase?
    12. Timing Is Everything
    13. Credit History
      1. Don't Know Much About History
      2. Establishing a Credit History Quickly
    14. Secured Credit Cards
    15. Credit Inquiries
    16. A Healthy Diet
    17. Retail Credit Cards
    18. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
    19. Closed Accounts
    20. Canceling a Credit Card
    21. The Battle Against Aging
      1. How Many Psychiatrists Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?
    22. How Do I Get My Credit Score?
    23. What Does It All Mean?
    24. Garbage In—Garbage Out
    25. What Can You Do to Improve Your Score?
  15. 12. CREDIT COUNSELING AND CREDIT REPAIR
    1. How Bad Is It?
    2. Credit Counseling Agencies (CCAs)
      1. “I Have Always Depended on the Kindness of Strangers”
      2. Effect on Your Credit
      3. Consumer Credit Counseling Services
      4. Credit Repair Scams
      5. Promises to Keep
      6. Things to Watch Out For
      7. How You Can Get into Trouble: Or, If It Looks Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
      8. Spam and Credit Repair
      9. Watch Out for That Helping Hand
      10. Non-Profit for Whom?
      11. Because That Is Where the Money Is
      12. The DebtWorks-Ballenger Group Conglomerate
      13. Debt Can Be Profitable
      14. The Cambridge-Brighton Conglomerate
      15. Fees, Fie, Foe, Fum
      16. Credit Counseling
      17. Legal Problems for AmeriDebt
      18. More Horror Stories
      19. There Ought to Be a Law
      20. Creditor Standards
    3. How Do You Choose a Credit Counseling Agency?
      1. Will Working with a Credit Counseling Service Hurt Your Credit?
      2. Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair
    4. What Do You Look For?
      1. A Small But Significant Piece of Advice
      2. Next Step
      3. Words to the Wise
      4. Be a Pack Rat
      5. Do-It-Yourself Credit Counseling
    5. Endnotes
  16. 13. CONGRESS DEALS WITH CREDIT REPORTS AND IDENTITY THEFT: THE FAIR AND ACCURATE CREDIT TRANSACTIONS ACT
    1. Major Provisions of FACT
      1. Free Credit Reports
      2. Reinvestigations Following Review of Free Credit Report
      3. Summary of Rights
      4. Fraud Alerts
      5. Blocking of Information
      6. Business Records Disclosure
      7. Red Flag Guidelines for New Accounts and Change of Address Verification
      8. Credit Card Number Truncation
      9. Social Security Number Truncation
      10. Banning of Collecting Debts Resulting from Identity Theft
      11. Mortgage Lenders Are Now Required to Provide Credit Scores and Other Credit-Related Information
      12. Other Disclosure of Credit Scores
      13. Single Notice of Furnishing Negative Information
      14. Risk-Based Pricing Notice
      15. Future Rules Regarding Accuracy and Integrity of Information
      16. Higher Standards for Providers of Information to Credit-Reporting Agencies
      17. The Right of Consumers to Dispute Inaccurate Information Directly with the Furnisher
      18. FTC Required to Report on Credit Report Complaints
      19. Disclosures of Results of Reinvestigation
      20. Notification of Address Discrepancy
      21. Future Studies of Ways to Improve FACT
      22. New Opt Out Rules for Prescreened Credit Offers
      23. New Opt Out Rules for Marketing Solicitations
      24. Study of Information Sharing
      25. Credit Scoring Study
      26. Establishment of the Financial Literacy Education Commission
      27. Preemption of State Laws
  17. 14. STEVE'S RULES
    1. Identity Theft Protection Rules
    2. Rules to Follow If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
    3. Credit Counseling Rules
    4. Credit Report and Credit Scoring Rules
  18. 15. FORM LETTERS
    1. Letter to company with which you do business that has not been tainted by identity theft
    2. Letter to credit-reporting agency reporting identity theft
    3. Letter to business involved with identity theft
    4. Fair Credit Billing Act letter
    5. Letter of agreement to settle debt
    6. Letter requesting removal of credit inquiry from credit report
    7. Letter disputing information contained on credit report
    8. Follow-up letter to credit-reporting agency
    9. Opt out letter
    10. Letter transferring a balance on a credit card
    11. Letter to bank to close account following identity theft
    12. Letter to check-verification company
    13. Letter notifying bank of theft of ATM card
    14. Letter requesting an extended fraud alert
    15. Letter requesting blocking of information
    16. Letter to credit-reporting agencies requesting truncation of Social Security number
    17. Letter requesting re-aging of credit card account
    18. Letter canceling a credit card
    19. Second letter regarding canceling of credit card
    20. Record of Identity Theft Communications
    21. Credit Bureaus—Report Fraud
    22. Banks, Credit Card Issuers, and Other Creditors
    23. Law Enforcement Authorities—Report Identity Theft