Protect Your Identity; Protect Your Financial Future

It’s a feeling that sends chills down your spine. You feel alone, confused, and angry. Unfortunately it is a feeling experienced by many people each year – it’s the feeling caused by identity theft. Claiming millions of victims each year, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft affected nearly 10 million Americans last year. As part of a nationwide grassroots consumer education outreach our organization, Money Management International, has partnered with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and other NFCC member agencies to offer financial education in recognition of Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW), October 17 -24, 2009. Protect Your Identity Week is designed to help people gain access to free information on prevention and learn what steps to take if they find themselves a victim of identity theft. To kick the week off, consider the following tips to safeguard your personal information:
  • Don’t leave your wallet or statements lying around—even at home.
  • Don’t carry Social Security cards or anything with your Social Security number on it.
  • Keep track of your credit card receipts and carbons.
  • Never tell anyone your card number over the phone, unless you initiate the phone call.
  • Never allow your credit card number to be used as identification.
  • Collect your mail regularly and destroy unwanted credit solicitations.
  • Monitor your credit statements.
  • Visit AnnualCreditReport.com and review your credit report at least once a year. Report errors and inaccuracies immediately.

If you become a victim, acting quickly is the key to minimizing damage. Take these steps if you feel your identity has been stolen:

  • File a police report.
  • Immediately notify issuers of credit.
  • Contact the fraud department of each of the credit reporting agencies to place a temporary 90-day Fraud Alert on your file.
  • Monitor your credit file.
  • Contact your local state Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission (877-IDTHEFT).
To learn more about protecting your identity or to find a theft prevention event near you, please visit ProtectYourIDNow.org.

At some point we’ve all fantasized about what it would be like to trade places with someone else. Well guess what, there’s someone out there who isn’t just fantasizing. They are taking great strides to obtain your identity.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.