WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO AVOID IDENTITY THEFT?
- Don't keep a social security card in wallet
- Put a hold on mail if you go on vacation
- Put a lock on your mailbox
IS IT WISE TO USE A P.O. BOX FOR PERSONAL MAIL?
If you live in an apartment where people can get your mail or can’t lock it
- Check your credit report yearly
- Shred documents with personal information
- Take advantage of free shredding events (often happen in conjunction with tax season)
- Community shredding events offered through your county
- Office Supply Store Shred Coupons: Example - Staples Get Free 5 lbs of Shredding
DEBT COLLECTION – 11% / 280,998:
- Complaints aren’t necessarily all about debt collection scams but about collectors violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- It is so important to know your rights, you have them even if you’re in debt
- Example Violations include: Repeated, continuous calls, a Falsely threatening suit or using profane language
HOW CAN WE AVOID BEING HARASSED BY DEBT COLLECTORS?
- Ask for written notification of your debt, they are required to provide it
- Take notes during the call or ask caller if it’s okay to record
- Seek out debt counseling services
IMPOSTOR SCAMS – 11% / 276,622 complaints
- This year there were nearly 24 times as many complaints of people impersonating IRS officials
- They call and say “you owe money” “you better pay now or be arrested” “wire or send money via prepaid debit card”
WHAT CAN SOMEONE DO TO AVOID GETTING CAUGHT IN A SCAM?
- Hang up and call the IRS direct (even if the caller ID looks like it is the IRS, scammers can fake it)
- Do not give out personal or financial information via email or phone, the IRS will always initiate contact via mail
- Major red flag if they demand a prepaid debit card or wire money transfer (IRS won’t require a specific form of payment)
Call the IRS directly at: 800.829.1040 or visit IRS.gov for assistance
Follow Emmy Award winning consumer reporter Jeanette Pavini on Twitter @jeanettepavini. For tips, ideas, and resources, visit her blog at www.coupons.com/blog.
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