Today’s Protection Rackets
Don’t fall for the scare tactics! Advertisements for “protection” use fear as their sales pitch. Millions of Americans are paying for “protection” they don’t need and that often doesn’t work—it’s a racket!
Companies selling credit or identity theft protection market their dubious products by spreading fear. And these services almost all require a monthly fee, that adds up quickly over time.
The reality is that no service can offer true protection from identity theft or credit tampering. For example, the Federal Trade Commission recently accepted an $11 million settlement from Life Lock for false claims. The best protection consumers have is simple (though not always easy) and is FREE.
For good credit:
- Pay all bills on time
- Don’t open a lot of new credit and try to maintain accounts over time
- Don’t use more than 30% of your available credit
To prevent or catch ID theft or unauthorized use of your credit:
- Obtain one free credit report from each of the three big Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) every four months through the central source: www.annualcreditreport.com. Avoid all other sites that sound like they offer “free” credit reports because they don’t. Other sites are imposters. There is only one source for your free credit reports.
- Check your credit reports carefully for errors and edit your credit by correcting any errors in writing with the CRA.
- Always safeguard your personal information, especially your bank account information, credit account numbers, date of birth and social security number. Most forms asking for it will let you omit your Social Security Number if you tell them you don’t want to provide it. A social security card is best kept locked up, not in your wallet.
- Never give any personal information to anyone that contacts you. Anyone who contacts you and asks for personal information is usually not who they say they are!
Avoid the “racket” of paying for monthly credit alerts, credit scores, and identity theft protection. Paying for these unnecessary and often ineffective services is not an effective use of your hard-earned money.
(c) Hummingbird Credit Counseling and Education, Inc. 2010. All rights reserved.