By financen | October 12, 2011 - 2:57 pm - Posted in Personal Finance

Scammers represent a very real risk to your financial future. Scammers take your personal information and use it to get credit or make purchases. A phone phishing scam will use personal financial information that you provide to do any number of things. Your Social Security number can be used to open loans in your name — and scammers can run up debts and then walk away, leaving you to foot the bill and deal with the fallout from the bad credit.

Credit Issues Associated with Identity Theft

If someone gets a hold of your credit card number because of a scam, they can run up your bill. Someone posing as a charity could call and ask for a “donation.” If you provide the credit card number, the scammers can use it to make purchases. It’s true you aren’t liable for these fraudulent purchases, but you will have to spend time to fix the problem, and your credit might suffer in the meantime.

Another problem is that you might give someone your Social Security number over the phone. Someone posing as a caller from your bank, or posing as a government worker, might call and ask you to verify your identity by providing your Social Security number. Once you give it — and confirm your address and name — scammers have everything they need to steal your identity and apply for a loan. You might not even know that this has happened for months. The scammers, of course, don’t make any payments, and pretty soon your credit is ruined. It can take weeks or months to have a fraudulent loan closed and removed from your account.

Be Careful with Your Personal Information

Even if you are reasonably sure who is calling, due to your diligence in performing a phone number lookup, it is still a good idea to go spare with your personal information — especially personal financial information. Your bank doesn’t need you to recite your entire account number. A charity can just send you a fundraising envelope; you don’t have to give out your credit card number over the phone. And, remember that many organizations won’t call you. A jury duty summons will come through the mail, and many other official government organizations will not contact you via phone and ask for any sort of personal financial information, or ask for your Social Security number. It’s important to keep these things in mind if you choose to answer the phone — although if you aren’t sure who’s calling, it might be wiser to avoid answering altogether.

Check Your Credit Report

In addition to being careful with your personal information, you also need to stay vigilant about your credit report. Check your report regularly and look for fraudulent entries. You should also check your credit card statement to make sure that fraudulent charges aren’t showing up. The sooner you catch these problems, and get them fixed, the sooner you can restore your good credit and financial reputation.

ID theft can happen to anyone. It’s the fastest growing crime in America. While you can’t completely protect yourself, you can be watching, ready to address the problem immediately should the need arise.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 at 2:57 pm and is filed under Personal Finance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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