Identity theft is on the rise, especially during the holiday season. At this time of year, many people are more apt to give money to charitable organizations and to mail contributions through the mail. It is important to research these charitable organizations prior to sending money or your personal account information through the mail or over the internet.
Here are few helpful reminders to be sure your donation will truly help those in need.
- Do not provide any organization or individual with large sums of money without first researching information on their organization.
- All charities doing business in the State of New Jersey are required by law to register with the Department of Law and Public Safety, Department of Community Affairs, by filing a Charitable Registration Statement. These registration statements must be updated annually.
- Send a money order, so that if anything is lost in the mail your personal account information or cash does not fall into the wrong hands.
A single incident of identity theft can result in loans taken out in your name, credit cards opened in your name and depletion of bank accounts. All of these things can result in damage to your credit. Be sure when holiday shopping that you have your credit cards and identification in a safe front pocket or in a handbag securely tucked under your arm.
Here are a few ways to protect your good credit, your money and your identity:
- Avoid carrying your Social Security card, checkbook and non-essential credit cards with you, so if your wallet or purse are stolen there is less personal information they can access.
- Keep copies of all information including licenses, social security cards, credit cards and checkbooks in case these items are lost or stolen. Having the financial institutions information on hand will allow you to contact them quickly to deactivate the credit cards and freeze bank accounts and prohibit unauthorized withdrawals.
- When at ATM machines watch your back and make sure people around you can't see you input your pin number.
- Also, when paying for items at the register, do not pull large sums of money out of your wallet or handbag.
If you should find yourself in the unfortunate scenario of identity theft, there are many ways you can clear your name and work to get your good credit back.
- Contact credit companies so accounts will not be opened in your name.
- Report the incident to the local police department so you can have fraudulent information deleted from your report. This will help prevent you from being charged with criminal charges of fraud.
- Send all your credit companies copies of the police report and complete the ID Theft Affidavit the company will provide you.
- Immediately change all passwords and get a new ATM card and new account number.
- Submit a statement of the theft with a copy of the police report to your credit report.
- Be sure to alert the Division of Motor Vehicles, Social Security office and passport official of the theft and have these documents re-issued.
Be sure to follow the above hints. Most importantly, use your instincts. Always keep your personal wallet or pocketbook on your person and never leave it unattended. You worked hard for your good credit and you must also be sure to work hard to protect it.