Protect Your Financial Security

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Reduce the Chances of Mail Theft

Never leave any outgoing financial letters containing checks or sensitive information outside in public for the postman. To receive mail, you should have a mail drop slot rather than a mailbox on the outside of the house. Always mail your financial letters inside of a reliable US Post Office. Theft of checks in the mail – from outside your home happens more often than you may think. And, you are the one who suffers when your payment is not received in time; you credit rating gets dinged; your check is stolen, washed, and cashed; you lose your money; and you waste a huge amount of time puting your financial identity theft Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Stolen checks can be chemically washed to remove ink. To do this criminals tape over your signature on both sides, and then remove the tape. The end result is a blank check with your signature. To avoid check washing, you can purchase certain gel pens with ink that cannot be washed in this manner. Several vendors offer gel pens that claim not to be washable. You can research them on the web with Google. For example, Sanford distributes the Uniball Signo line of gel pens with gel ink that supposedly cannot be washed. These pens may be found in local stores.

Review ALL Bills and Financial Statements Promptly and Handle Significant Problems in Writing Within 60 Days

Review your credit card bills and other financial account statements carefully and respond to any problems promptly. Unfortunately, after 60 days the few consumer protections that are available to you under the Fair Credit Reporting Act will cease. Thereafter, you are at the mercy of the goodwill of banks and other financial institutions, which all too often is sorely lacking. Never count on the goodwill of any financial institution after 60 days has passed. This is particularly the case, with financial services companies that you cannot visit locally in person. Over the telephone, financial services companies — particularly credit card companies — have mastered the art of (usually) politely telling you that they are sorry, but there is nothing that can be done to fix a problem without, of course, it costing you a lot of money!

Check every financial statement that you receive in a timely manner and report any problems. If the dollar amount in question is significant, read the instructions on your statement or on the financial institution’s website about how to make a report in writing. Only when you follow these procedures in writing within 60 days are you protected under this law.

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If you attempt to resolve a problem over the telephone, take careful notes including who, when, and what was stated, etc. Nevertheless, telephone conversations do not protect your legal rights, so when the amounts in question are significant to you, you must put it in writing.

Dispose of Financial Records Properly

Be careful in disposing of all financial records and statements. Do not simply discard them in the trash or recycling. Use a crosscut shredder, which makes small confetti and not strips. Alternatively, you can keep a bag of discarded financial records, which you burn periodically. These financial records disposal recommendations also apply to preprinted credit card and other debt applications that you might receive in the mail. Do not throw these applications in the trash without first tearing off your name and address from the application.

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