Your money

Working at a bank, I've learned tons of useful information about money that I never knew before. I don't claim to be any kind of expert, and I know there are lots of people out there that know much more than I do, but I wanted to take some time to blog useful financial information for those of you who might find money talk as confusing as I did (and still do sometimes). Here's your first installment.

Protecting your identity.
This is SUCH a huge thing right now, and according to NBC News, "some 50 million identities have been stolen in the past 6 months alone." Besides going back to all cash, what can we do to protect ourselves? There's tons of info on the net right now about how to avoid and combat identity theft. I read an article by Laura Stern, a freelancer writing for Reuters, where she mentioned several great few things you should know about identity theft:

  • Don't panic and don't stop using your credit card or shopping online. Credit cards come with two levels of protection: Federal law prohibits consumers from losing more than $50 to theft or fraud, and the card issuers step in and cover that $50. If your card number does get stolen, you won't be out any money. Your issuer can give you a new number.
  • Don't wait to get your statement to see if your card is being used. If you haven't already set your credit card accounts up for online and phone access, do so. Then you can go online between statement dates and check to make sure nobody else is posting charges to your account.
  • Look for small, inconsequential charges. Most credit card thieves test the card with a small purchase to see if it works.
  • Control your own paperwork. Most credit card thefts do not occur when techies figure out how to hack your card company. They occur when retail employees or shoppers pull carbons out of trash cans or find payment stubs and the like. Keep control of your receipts and keep control of your cards.

Another scam that is increasing identity theft is called "phishing." Phishers like email "spammers," send email to a large number of email addresses. The perpetrators hope for two things: first, that some number of the recipients on their mailing list will actually be customers of the legitimate business their email claims to come from, and second, that some of those who are customers will actually believe that the email is legitimate, and comply with their request to relinquish confidential information. If you ever receive an email that asks you to respond with a web-banking login ID, account number, or any other personal information, do not respond to the email and notify your bank immediately. Arvest has had reports of this happening 3 times this week alone, and other banks are experiencing the same claims.

The Federal Trade Commission is also a great resource on protecting your identity, with phone numbers to call if you suspect that your identity has been stolen.


jlo 25/7/05 8:38 PM  

Thanks for the useful info Virginia. Your hubbie is at my house right now and I can't publish his new nickname given by my roommate.

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