Tag Archives: identity theft

Being prepared to avoid scams and identity thieves

The beginning of November is a real kickoff to the holiday season. Along with the holidays comes identity theft. Is it because we are all so busy that we let our guard down? Is it because the increase in spending means there is more data to hack and grab? In addition to identity theft, scammers are also working to lighten your wallet and drain your bank account. There are habits you can learn and put into place to protect yourself during the holidays and all year round.

Step 1: Find a “techie” person who can research and spot the wolves in sheep’s clothing

Do you get phone calls from telemarketers who have the most amazing offer that will change your life? Maybe the person is selling gold currency or reverse mortgages. How do you know if they are scamming you? A good rule of thumb is when you want a product or service, you should do your research and find it locally. If you inclined to answer telemarketer calls, take down all the information and do some research on the legitimacy of the offer and the organization contacting you. If you do not feel comfortable in your investigation skills, find a family member who can help you out. It’s better to put your pride aside and ask for help than allowing yourself to be scammed or have your identity stolen.

Step 2: Get back to using cash or gift cards when you can

Remember the big chain stores having problems with credit card information being stolen? How about getting gas at one of the gas stations with the card skimmers? The volume of credit and debit card activity is significant around the holidays, and that means there can be a greater risk of identity theft. Maybe cash is not your preferred payment method and you want to swipe – find a gift card you can put money on and use for holiday shopping. It’s better than someone getting your debit or credit card and cause you undue burdens and stress.

Step 3: Learn about how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps identify theft victims

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an excellent source of information about identity theft and consumer scams. You can report scams and identity theft right on their website. They also share the laws that protect us from consumer fraud. Your credit rating is an asset and if the credit reporting bureaus fail to restore your credit rating after identity theft, you can sue them. We can connect you with a consumer law firm specializing in just that.

Step 4: Make it a habit to write down and log all your incoming phone calls

If you are receiving robo calls from telemarketers or bill collectors, you can act against them and will need to list the dates, times and what was generally said on the call or voicemail. When you answer the phone and someone on the other end has the deal of a lifetime to offer you, ask for their name or operator identification number. If they don’t tell you who they are you have good reason to disconnect the call and make a note that they called and refused to identify themselves. Information is power and the more you take control of these situations, the more empowered you may be to do something about it.

Step 5: Bolster your expectations of privacy and be vigilant with your personal information

For a few years people became lazy about expectations of privacy. Many assumed the banks and merchants would protect us and nothing bad would happen other than the loss of a few bucks we could get back easily. What happens when the identity thief gets a driver’s license in your name and kills someone in a DUI hit and run, with license plates in your name? Instead of giving out information like your social security number, take the extra time to use a different way to identify yourself. The damage a crook can do to your credit and identity is significant and well worth an ounce of prevention.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

Tips we should know about personal loans

Easily we can identify several reasons to borrow money. Most of us are comfortable taking out loans for homes, cars and education because these are expectations for us and they help us further build our credit while we finance our basic needs. Personal loans are different type of loan, and unlike home and car loans, a personal loan is not guaranteed by a collateral asset such as the home or car. A personal loan can be obtained through a bank, credit union or an online lender, which is a newer option gaining in popularity. How and when to look for a personal loan can be a matter of necessity or smart financing when we have general personal debt. Shopping around and knowing what to look for in a personal loan is important to achieving financial success.

Sources of personal loans

Banks and credit unions offer their customers and members personal loans based on their financial relationship with the borrower. If the lender and borrower agree, a personal loan may be secured by collateral, such as a vehicle or land title. In most cases, a personal loan is based on the lending bank or credit union’s lending decision based on our income and credit rating. Some credit unions offer quick cash loans for up to several hundred dollars or more, which are repaid from direct monthly withdrawals from the borrower’s account over a short term, often within one year.

The new trend in personal borrowing involves online and app-based moneylenders. An online lender with money to lend may offer a good rate on a personal loan where the online lender does not have the overhead of a brick and mortar bank or credit union. Online applications and processing make it easy for us to apply for personal loans from our home or office. With so much commerce happening on device applications, personal loan apps are another option. Some apps we use to receive credit and debit card payments, will offer personal or business loans to their customers, based on a known income average. These app-based loans can easily be repaid monthly in a fixed amount or as a percentage of incoming funds until the loan is repaid. Square Capital is an example of a income app-based lender.

Determining whether a personal loan makes good financial since

The fees and interest payments on credit cards can be significant if we carry a balance and do not make more than the minimum monthly payment. The balances never seem to come down. A personal loan at a lower interest rate can save us significant amounts of money if we use the proceeds of the personal loan to pay off the credit cards. Of course, if we run those credit cards back up we are headed right back to a monthly cash flow problem. If credit cards are only used for actual emergencies or small monthly fixed bills, such utilities, they are good for our finances.

An unexpected major expense such as an uninsured medical expense or major car repair is a good reason to look for a personal loan. Using the car repair example, a $1500 personal loan to repair a transmission, will cost us significantly less than trading off the devalued vehicle on a newer one, especially if we owe more than the value of the car. Too often people get into terrible deals on cars because they do not have the access to cash or credit to pay for major car repairs.

Shopping for the best personal loan to meet our needs

We should always perform our own investigative online research about any lender we from whom we might borrow money. There are many scams and consumer fraud perpetrators in commerce, especially online where their identities might be hidden. Before you give out personal information on the Internet, in a loan application, make sure you are not working with a fraud or identity thief.  Of course, be aware of scammers offering amazing deals. If it sounds too good to be true, everyone would be borrowing money from these folks.

Another good idea is to find out how and when the lender reports positive payment histories to the credit agencies. Any lender who makes interest and repayment decisions based on our credit, should update the agencies when we make timely personal loan payments, to boost our credit scores. We should make sure we understand the amount and duration of our payments. If we can make fewer and somewhat larger payments, we can save money on interest, with the example of the 12-month quick cash loan versus a 36-month personal loan, where we are likely to pay more money in total interest.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients on consumer issues including bankruptcy and they can offer additional suggestions about personal loan options as the need may arise.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Image source: Aero Federal Credit Union, personal loan http://bit.ly/1MmFo02