Opt out to protect your information

Junk Mail.   How much junk mail do you receive every day?  Probably a lot.  and junk mail is not the innocent little annoyance you think it is.  You probably just think it is something that you must live with, but in many cases it is not.  You can opt out of receiving quite a lot of junk mail.

Much of the junk mail you receive may come from businesses sharing your information with others.  You can stop much of this junk mail by opting out.  Some junk mail is easy to opt out of like pre-approved credit card offers.  Simply dial 1-888-567-8688 in the US.  This will keep credit bureaus from selling your information to lenders and insurers.

All financial institutions are required to provide you with a privacy policy that tells you how they share your information with others.   You may be able to opt out of much of this sharing process but not all of it.  There are instances which you cannot opt out of but you can opt out of some of it.

It is also never to late to opt out.  It will take a little effort on your part because you will need to contact each institution that holds an account in your name to find out what their procedure is for opting out.

Why should I opt out?

Allowing your information to be freely shared is a big identity theft risk.  The more businesses that have your information, the bigger the risk that your information will be lost.   The better control you have over who holds your information, the lower your risk of it being lost.

For more information on opting out, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Privacy Choices you can download a PDF version of this publication that will help you understand what opting out is and how you can opt out.

For more information on Identity Theft please visit  LegalShield  learn how we can help with Identity theft issues.


You’re Repo’ing my car? But I’m only 4 years old!

As parents, the safety of our little ones is important.  We put time and effort into teaching them how to be safe.  For example “Don’t talk to strangers.”  We don’t teach them to protect their identities.  We don’t even consider them at risk for the most part.

Most of us still consider Identity Theft a financial issue.  It’s all about our credit cards and bank accounts.  And our kids don’t have credit cards.  And usually a parent or trusted adult is listed on that bank account so our children won’t become a victim.

Actually our children are prime targets for identity theft.  I didn’t get a social security number until I was 8 years old.  I wouldn’t have gotten it then, but my mother applied for mine when she applied for my older brother’s just to get it out of the way.  Now our newborns are often coming home from the hospital with Social Security numbers already assigned to them.

A child has something very valuable to Identity thieves-Clean Credit.  They also don’t use that credit so a thief has years and years to use the child’s information with almost no risk of discovery.  Child identity theft victims may not find out until they apply for a driver’s license or for college financial aid.  The activities of an Identity thief can ruin the life of a childhood victim.

As parents we need to be aware of the risk to our children and we need to teach our children about protecting their identity.  Make the protection of Personally Identifying Information a family issue.  Have children help with shredding documents.   To get them in the habit, let them shred some of their old school papers.  Always check junk mail for credit card or other offers of credit in your child’s name.  Consider enrolling your child some form of Identity theft protection designed for children, like Safeguard for Minors.

The important thing is to teach them to be aware and protect their identities.

A victim of mortgage fraud speaks out.

Many homeowners right now are facing foreclosure.  I came across this article at Examiner.com in which one victim tells her story of mortgage fraud.

This lady got into a mess with a loan modification.  She opted for the modification to prevent falling behind on her payments or have her credit ruined.  In the end she ended up some $7000 delinquent in her payments.

One thing that we all need to understand is that contracts are drafted by attorneys.  When you sign any contract  (especially those ‘standard’ contracts), that document was drawn up on behalf of the other party by their attorney.   The fact is that the attorney was working for the other side, not you.

This is why it is so important to have contracts reviewed by an attorney on your behalf.  You probably know someone who has been burnt by signing a contract.  Balloon payments immediately come to mind.  How many people do you know that bought a car and found out when they got around to those final payments that the payment had skyrocketed?  Maybe it has happened to you?

Had an attorney for the buyer reviewed that contract, the balloon payment would have been revealed by the buyers attorney along with any other hidden surprises.  Perhaps I shouldn’t say hidden because it is spelled out in that contract somewhere but most of us don’t read the complete contract or we read it and act like we know what it means.  We don’t want to look stupid.

Not understanding a contract does not make you stupid, it simply means that you are not an attorney.   You just don’t have the needed training and education to understand it, an attorney does.  Wouldn’t it be smarter to have someone who does understand review it for you and then tell you what you are getting ready to legally agree to?