Trans World Assurance Blog

Privacy & Other Opt-Out Tactics (Jeff Burch, Money Book)

Posted on Wed, Apr 20, 2011


Reduce unwanted telemarketing phone calls:
Register with “National Do Not Call Registry”: 888.382.1222 or visit: www.donotcall.gov If you get a call from a company that you do business with, ask to be placed on its internal “Do Not Call List.”

State Do Not Call List:
26 states (with several other states pending) share their data with the national registry. To get on the Do Not Call List from your state visit: www.donotcallprotection.com/state_do_not_call_list_signup.shtml

Block your cell phone number permanently:
Dial 611 from your cell phone; then request "line block" from your carrier, and your number will never show up to anyone again. However, if a situation arises where you want your number to show, dial *82 in front of number you are calling. EXAMPLE: *82 (555) 555-5555


Block your cell phone number temporarily: 
When calling, block your cell phone number by dialing *67 in front of the number you are calling.Example: *67 (555) 555-5555.

Option C:
If you want to receive calls, but keep your phone number private, use call forwarding service. The person calling will dial a number that will connect to your phone, without knowing your real number. There's several call forwarding services, just Google to find one. 

Opt out on the internet:
Stop sharing of online cookie data with advertisers by visiting: www.networkadvertising.org

Use privacy search Engines:
The search engine “Ixquick” deletes search queries after 48-hours. Conversely, Yahoo retains search queries for 13-months and Google 18-months. To download, visit:www.ixquick.com/eng/download_ixquick_plugin.html

Furthermore, the search engine Ask.com offers a privacy feature called “AskEraser”. Go to www.ask.com, click on “AskEraser” and your search activity is deleted from Ask.com servers.

Freeze credit report:
You can deny “access” to your credit reports in all 50 states. This will reduce your risk of identity theft. To learn more, visit: www.consumersunion.org/campaigns//learn_more/003484indiv.html.

To remove your name from national companies that do direct mail marketing, telemarketing, rents or sells your name to other companies, send your letter / post card with your name address and phone number to: 

1. DMA Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
or you can register by phone: 212-768-7277, ext. 1500

2. DMA Telephone Preference Service 
P.O. Box 1559
Carmel, NY 10512 

3. DMA E-Mail Preference Service at www.dmachoice.org: Follow instructions to remove your e-mail address from many direct e-mail lists. 

If you write to the DMA you’ll be removed from the DMA-member lists for five years, but it may take several months before you see a decrease in amount of solicitations.

Opting out will not end solicitations from all local merchants, religious and charitable associations, professional and alumni associations, politicians, and companies. To eliminate mail from these groups – as well as mail addressed to “occupant” or “resident” – write directly to each source.

Opt out of pre-approved unsolicited credit card offers: Get rid of credit offers for 5-years with a call, or permanently, by mailing the Opt-Out form, through their web site. Call 888.567.8688 or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.

Opt Out of Acxiom: Acxiom is one of the sources of addresses and phone numbers for telemarketers and mass mailers. To Opt-Out call 877.774.2094 or by e-mail optoutUS@acxiom.com. Should opting out with Acxiom become a problem, visit the website www.private-citizen.com to help get rid of them.

Opt out of Abacus: Abacus collects a cooperative database of catalog customers. When you order products from one catalog, that company is likely to sell your contact information to other catalog companies. To opt-out of the Abacus database, write to Abacus, P.O. Box 1478, Broomfield, CO 80038 or by email at abacusoptout@epsilon.com. Include full name (add middle initial) and current address (and previous address if you have moved within the last 6 months). For more information, visit www.abacusoptout.com

Protect Your Financial Privacy: Read privacy notices from your bank, credit card, insurance, and investment companies. By law, as a requirement, financial institutions must mail privacy notices to you yearly. Take full advantage of any opt-out opportunities regarding the sharing of customer data.

Tags: Trans World Assurance, Money Book, Jeff Burch, identity theft, privacy

Identity Theft Scams, Part 2 (Money Book, Jeff Burch)

Posted on Fri, Apr 08, 2011


What can you do to protect yourself from identity theft?

Here is a list of things you can do that can lower risk of information being stolen:

  • Check your credit report regularly. The major credit bureaus are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. You can get these free reports by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. Consider spacing these out so that you get one every four months. 
  • Instead of depositing your outgoing mail in your own mailbox, take it to the post office collection mailboxes where items are more secure. Identity thieves can easily steal your mail and use that information against you. 
  • Never give personal information over the phone, unless call is initiated by you. Make sure household members know not to give out such information. 
  • Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank windows, or gas pumps. These receipts contain information that Identity thieves can utilize. 
  • Shred any financial trash, especially credit card offers or cash advance/check offers (If a thief gets one of these applications, they can apply in your name). 
  • Notify credit card companies and financial agencies in advance of address and phone number changes. Don’t let your mail continue to go to your old address. 
  • If you applied for a credit card, and it doesn’t arrive promptly, immediately contact the credit card company.  
  • Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
  • Sign all new credit cards upon receipt.
  • Carefully review your credit card bills and bank account statements each month.
  • When making online purchases, consider using only one card that you check frequently. 
  • Beware of any official looking requests to confirm information from businesses or federal entities that you receive via email. These are usually Identity thieves “phishing” for information.
  • Use “strong” passwords that aren’t easy to guess. For example, do not use your anniversary, birth dates or other significant dates that a thief could easily discover.

What to do if you fall victim to ID Theft:

If you are unfortunate enough to become a victim of ID theft, there are several crucial steps you must take in order to restore your credit and identity:

STEP 1: Close accounts that you know, or believe to have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Call and speak with someone in security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (not originals) of supporting documents. It is important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Sample letters are available at www.FTC.gov.  Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures. 

STEP 2: Contact the Credit Bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and place a fraud report on your credit report. This fraud alert will make it difficult for Identity thieves to continue stealing by stopping them from opening new lines of credit. 

  • Equifax: 
    1-800-525-6285; 
    www.equifax.com 
    P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241
  • Experian: 
    1-888-397-3742
    www.experian.com
    SECURITYALERT P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
  • TransUnion: 
    1-800-680-7289 
    www.transunion.com
    Fraud Victim Assistance Division 
    P.O. Box 6790, 
    Fullerton, CA 92834-6790 

STEP 3: Contact local police and file a police report. This will help you to validate the authenticity of your claim, so that later, if you need to challenge transactions or notations on your credit report you have some form of proof that you were the victim of theft. Sometimes, local police are unresponsive to reports, in which case, you can also contact your State Attorney General’s Office. 

STEP 4: Contact the FTC and file a complaint at:  www.FTC.gov

Although, these steps can help mitigate the harm done when your identity is stolen, the most important thing you can do is follow the steps laid out in this article to decrease your risk of having your identity stolen.

Tags: Trans World Assurance, scam, identity theft

Identity Theft Scams, Part 1 (Money Book, Jeff Burch)

Posted on Wed, Apr 06, 2011


During a long day, you may write a check, charge dinner and a movie, rent a car or apply for credit. In each transaction, you reveal bits of personal information, like your bank and credit card account numbers; your income; your Social Security number (SSN); including, your name, addresses, and phone numbers. Once a thief has your information, it can be used (without your knowledge) to commit serious fraud or theft.    

People who have had their identities stolen can spend months or years and thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess. In addition, identity victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans or credit, and arrested for crimes they didn't commit. Shame, anger and frustration are among the feelings victims experience as they trudge through the process of rescuing their identity.

The following information will give you strategies on how to protect your identity or wrestle it back from thieves.  

How identity thieves get your personal information:

They get information from businesses or other institutions by:
  • While they are on the job, they may steal records, datum, bribe an employee (who has access to these records), hack records, or even con information out of employees.
  • Stealing mail, bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks, and tax information. 
  • Rummaging through trash from businesses or public trash dumps. 
  • Obtaining credit reports by abusing their employer's authorized access to them, or posing as property owner, employer, or someone else who may have legal right to access report.
  • Stealing credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information in a data storage device in a practice known as "skimming." They may swipe your card for an actual purchase, or attach the device to an ATM where you may enter or swipe your card.
  • Stealing wallets or purses.
  • Sending a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location. 
  • Stealing information they find in your home. 
  • Stealing information from you through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies and claiming that you have a problem with your account. This scam is known as "phishing" online or “pretexting” by phone.
  • Glean information off your business card(s). 

How identity thieves use your personal information:

They may:

  • Call your credit card issuer to change the billing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on your account. Since your bills are being sent to a different address, it may be awhile before you realize the problem.
  • Open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the credit cards, and don't pay the bills, delinquent accounts are reported on your credit report. 
  • Set up a phone or wireless service in your name.
  • Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
  • Counterfeit checks, credit or debit cards, or authorize electronic transfers in your name, and drain accounts.     
  • File bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
  • Buy a car with a loan using your name.
  • Get identification such as a driver's license issued with their picture, in your name. 
  • Get a job or file fraudulent tax returns in your name. 
  • Give your name to the police during an arrest. When they don't show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest is issued in your name.

Tags: Trans World Assurance, scam, identity theft