Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Financial Privacy
Your date of birth, name and social security number are all the information a thief needs to steal your identity. If you are contacted by phone, mail or email and asked to provide any of these, first ask yourself: "Would I give the key to my home, the key to my vehicle or my checkbook to this person?" If the answer to any of these questions is "No" - don't provide the information.
Be cautious with your mail. Don't leave mail in your mailbox or where strangers may have access to it. Don't include personal financial information or social security numbers in email. You can add your name to the Direct Marketing Association's "Do Not Mail" list by calling them at 212-790-1500, writing to them at 1615 L St. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036-3603 or registering on their website at: http://www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html
Make certain that information about you and/or the account number is not legible before throwing away any financial statements. Either use a shredder or a marking pen to black out the pertinent information. Review all account statements carefully to be sure that all transactions are familiar to you.
Monitor your credit reports. Every resident of Maine is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus once a year. To obtain your credit reports, call 1-877-322-8228 or visit www.annualcreditreport.com. Review these reports carefully and make certain that there is nothing on any report that should not be there.
Do not give any personal information to anyone over the telephone or the internet. If you are asked for this information, a quick phone call to the bank or business security department will verify if the information is needed. DO NOT take the phone number from the person who is calling and call them back at the number they provide. Don't be fooled by internet messages asking for personal information. They may seem to be from your bank or some other legitimate organization, but they are not. Banks never ask for personal information over the internet or the phone. You can register for the Do Not Call List by contacting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.donotcall.gov or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236), from the number you wish to register. Registration is free.
Use the "opt out" choice with your creditors and banks. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act limits these institutions from providing some of your private financial information to other companies if you notify them that you wish to opt out. The kinds of information that can be provided include account balances, transaction histories and information about debit or credit card purchases. Each creditor or bank must notify you once a year and offer you the option of opting out and provide you with clear instructions about their procedure for doing so. Contact your creditors and financial institutions and ask about their policies for opting out.
Credit bureaus also share your credit information with companies who want to offer you financial services. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can have your name removed from these lists and reduce solicitations for pre-approved credit cards by calling 888-567-8688. For more detailed information about the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or about opting out, visit http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/privacyinitiatives/glbact.html
For more detailed information about the Fair Credit Reporting Act, visit http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcrajump.htm
For more information about the specific provisions of Financial Privacy laws, visit http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs24-finpriv.htm
Be extremely careful when making purchases over the internet. If you are making an internet purchase, try to use a secure purchasing account that doesn't reveal your credit card number. Do not authorize a payment from your bank account or provide the seller with your account number or social security number. If you have to make a payment using a card, be certain to use a credit card rather than a debit card. When using the internet to conduct business, make certain that the website is secure and the seller is reputable. If you are unfamiliar with the seller, contact the local Better Business Bureau or the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office in the state where the business is located. When you are unfamiliar with an internet seller, don't spend more money than you can safely afford to lose.
Take these simple steps to make your financial information more secure:
DO NOT MAIL LIST
Have your name added and reduce junk mail.
Direct Marketing Association
1615 L St. NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20036
DO NOT CALL LIST
Have your name added and reduce unwanted phone calls.
Federal Trade Commission
FREE CREDIT REPORTS
Request one from each bureau every year
CREDIT CARD SOLICITATION
Have your name removed from pre-approved credit card mailings
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT REPORT
For a slight fee no one can receive credit information about you.
CREDITORS AND BANKS
"Opt Out" so your financial information remains private.
CONTACT EACH INDIVIDUALLY