Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

An Interesting Something . . .

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. . . popped into my head

t’other morning on my bike ride.

At my age, I feel like I’ve come out of “Star Wars” being born “A long time ago in a galaxy far away…”

Always the Season

to Protect Your Identity

Identity theft, which is easier to commit successfully than credit-card fraud because the criminal only has to steal your name and not your card, accounts for almost half of the thousands of consumer-fraud complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission each year.

Almost 10 percent of the population becomes victims of identity thieves each year. These are just the ones we know of because they are reported to the FTC. You can lose your identity in an instant – the time it takes for a crook to memorize your birth date or Social Security number as you give it to a shop clerk, for example.

You can take a few simple steps to foil these vultures.

Old-fashioned thieves steal your identity by pilfering through your wallet or purse. Modern Internet hackers can get your most personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, address, and other valuable data, to use to make purchases and loans in your name.

Many steal identities from mailboxes – more than 100,000 residential mailboxes are raided every day in this country – or they fish bank and credit-card statements from trash. You face more than a financial loss when any of this happens to you. Since you’re the person who’s named on the debt, you’ll have to pay bills you never incurred.

An identity thief may use your name but another address so you won’t be aware of the debt made in your name because statements will be sent to that other address and your credit will be trampled.

It’s a long and frustrating road to reclaim your rightful identity and credit rating. A bad credit rating is like an old-fashioned hangover – only time is a cure.

One self-defense weapon you might acquire is a paper shredder to shred all documents and statements with your name, address and ID numbers. This includes bank and credit-card statements, offers by credit-card companies for pre-approved cards, any statements from book clubs or magazine subscriptions, and personal numbers that come with catalogs and merchant mailings.

The prime rule in self-protection is never give anyone your Social Security number. And don’t carry your card with you. Only government agencies, credit-reporting firms, banks and the Internal Revenue Service can use your Social Security number. Anyone else who wants it can be told it isn’t required.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 23, 2022 at 3:00 am

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