Utility Scams And Identity Theft

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You’ve received a phone call from a utility company demanding a payment right now or your utilities will be immediately shut off – or maybe representatives of your utility show up at your door to make the same threat. What do you do?

Don’t pay them. It’s almost certainly a scam.

Utility companies don’t make threats requiring immediate payment to avoid shutoff. They will send at least one disconnection notice by mail and provide several payment options to avoid shutoff by a certain time. Electricity, gas, or water providers don’t want to cut off your service – they just want you to make your payments.

Of course, if you ignore all late payment and disconnection notices, the utility provider will eventually cut you off – but that’s only as a last resort.

Variations of this scam include unscheduled meter repairs, free energy audits without any appoin…

Child Credit Freezes 101

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It may seem strange to you even to think of freezing your child’s credit. Has your son or daughter gone on a credit binge at your local toy store or candy store? Why would your child even have credit in the first place?

Your child probably doesn’t have credit, but he or she does have a Social Security Number (SSN) – which is a tempting target for identity thieves. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reports that children are over fifty times more likely than adults are to have their identity stolen.

A child’s SSN is a blank slate for thieves to use in creating a false identity. Since you are unlikely even to check for any credit in your child’s name, the theft may go unnoticed for years, causing significant and long-lasting damage. This type of identity theft may not be discovered until your child prepares to leave for college or the working world, only to find that he or she can’t qualify for financial aid, loans, or any form of credit.

Look for …

What We Don’t Know About Identity Theft CAN Hurt Us

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Equifax… Uber… Target… Under Armour…. The list of data hacks keeps growing and growing, increasing the odds that someone will steal your identity. Last year, this digital epidemic affected 14.4 million Americans. But the more you know, the better you can protect yourself.

We conducted an exclusive MoneyTips Google survey in 2018 to see how much people knew about identity theft and the credit bureaus. Do you know all the answers?

We asked people if they knew which data hack was the largest.

A whopping 9 out of 10 didn’t know or chose incorrectly. Reader, care to guess, before we reveal the answer?

Using weighted averages, more than half of us (50.9%) admitted that they had no idea which hack was the worst of the century. More than 1 in 3 (34.4%) guessed the

Protect Yourself From Medical Identity Theft

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Medical identity theft is an increasing concern for Americans. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, 27.9% of 2018 data breaches as of mid-June are in the Medical/Healthcare category, exposing almost 3 million records – second only to business data breaches.

Why is medical identity theft so desirable to thieves? Not only does it allow access to medical services and prescription drugs in your name, the medical/insurance billing systems are so confusing that you may not realize your identity has been stolen until a bill you were unaware of has been turned over to collections.

Fortunately, you can take some steps to protect your medical identity.

Check Medical Records – Except for a few circumstances, you have the right to a copy of your medical records. Have a copy of your records on hand in case you need them to register

Survey: 9 Of 10 Believe Equifax Should Be Punished

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MoneyTips published an article explaining that Equifax has yet to be punished for the data breach that compromised the personal data of more than 147 million Americans. We wanted to know if the credit bureau should be punished… and if so, how?

“The enormity of the Equifax data breach cannot be overstated,” says Professor Steve Weisman, who teaches White Collar Crime at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. “As many as 148 million people now have the threat of identity theft looming over them for the rest of their lives.”

In an exclusive MoneyTips survey conducted in 2018, we asked:

Nearly 9 in 10 (89.8%) of the 1,132 respondents of the Google survey believe that

Video: The Best Way To Protect Your Identity

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Millions of Americans have had their identity stolen. Has this epidemic made you consider disconnecting from the Internet? Even that won’t protect you… but MoneyTips can!

MoneyTips has improved Identity Protector, one of the tools enjoyed by MoneyTips members, which monitors your financial life and protects your identity. In the video above, Professor MoneyTips Jeff Hoyt explains how Identity Protector can help you stay safe, and even restore your identity if you lose your wallet!

Protect your credit – protect your identity – protect yourself
with a free MoneyTips trial.

Survey: Americans Trust Trump Over Zuckerberg With Protecting Their Identity

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Identity theft is rampant, with an estimated $14.7 billion stolen from Americans last year alone. Nevertheless, we don’t trust that the credit bureaus who hold all our personal data can protect our identities.

An exclusive MoneyTips survey reveals that we trust President Trump a lot more than the Equifax CEO or Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with protecting our identity. Respondents also trusted the President’s nemesis former FBI Director James Comey more than the heads of Equifax or Facebook. And whom do we trust the most to protect our identity? Oprah Winfrey!

Says Professor Steve Weisman, who teaches White Collar Crime at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, “It is not surprising that President Trump receives higher grades regarding protecting us from identity theft than the Equifax CEO and Mark Zuckerberg because both Equifax and Zuckerberg, at least until now, have shown little interest in protecting the identities of people having credit rep…

Shoulder Surfing 101

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Do you know who’s lurking over your shoulder? They might be trying to get a peek at your financial information.

What is Shoulder Surfing?

Shoulder surfing is when a would-be thief spies over your shoulder while you’re using your financial data. They’re not just nosy – they’re trying to get a peak, so they can steal your details for their own purposes.

Shoulder surfing can happen any time that your financial information could be visible or audible to others. Here are some common scenarios that are golden opportunities for shoulder surfers:

  • Keying in your PIN at the ATM or a bank teller
  • Using your debit or credit card and PIN to pay for a point-of-sale transaction in a store
  • Paying for gas at the pump
  • Signing into a banking app or website using a debit or credit card number or a username and password on a mobile de…

How To Get Tax Liens Off Your Credit Report

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Tax liens are claims made on your property by a government entity for failure to pay your taxes. A lien doesn’t mean your property will be seized – it just means that the agency applying the lien has the first right to your property compared to other creditors.

A tax lien on your credit report can drop your credit score and raise red flags with potential creditors. Tax agencies don’t report unpaid tax bills to credit reporting agencies, but tax liens are public records – and until recently, they were part of the public records that could be scanned by credit reporting agencies and included on your credit report as negative items (along with bankruptcies and civil judgments).

Worse, tax liens can appear on your credit report for up to ten years after the lien has been fully paid and released – complete with an officially issued document verifying that the taxing agency no longer has a claim on your property.

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bur…