Archive for the ‘Identity Theft Protection’ Category

Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is often in the news. This can generate panic causing people to turn toward costly insurance. Below are some laws and steps that offer protection at for no cost.

  • Consider a credit security freeze. A freeze will prohibit the credit reporting agencies from releasing your information to anyone unless you lift the freeze. If you are under 65 years old it costs $10 to place a freeze. If you are 65 or older, or have been a victim of identity theft the fee is waived. For more information visit the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Service’s web site and click the Security Freeze link
  • If your credit card account number is stolen, federal law states that you cannot be held liable for the fraudulent charges. If the physical card is stolen, the maximum you can be held liable for is $50.00.
  • Order your Consumer Report available through This report includes a five year history of check orders and information reported regarding returned checks or collection accounts. By federal law you are entitled to an annual free report.
  • Order your free credits reports annually through the federally authorized web site Keep in mind that it is your credit reports, not your score, which will provide a detailed history that may better alert you to credit fraud.
  • Federal law does not offer the same blanket coverage for debit cards. However, private institutions offer this protection at no charge. The downside with debit cards is having money fraudulently removed from your account can cause problems with non-fraudulent transactions.
  • Opt-out of preapproved credit offers. You can choose to opt-out for five years or permanently at
  • If you are going away, put a hold on your postal mail. This can be done online at the US postal service. You might also want to weigh the advantages and costs of a PO Box for all mail.
  • In addition to the credit reporting agencies, there is a long list of private companies that collect consumer data. These include your employment history, medical records, insurance claims and utility payment. Find out more about these companies and which will provide free annual reports by downloading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report “List of consumer reporting agencies” available at

Identity Theft Protection at Minimal Cost

Before you pay for identity theft protection learn what policies are already in place that can protect you at minimal or no cost.  For instance there are federal laws and commercial policies that will protect you if your credit card  information is stolen. In addition, Florida state law  grants you the right to put a security freeze on your credit reports.

Credit Cards: Under the Fair Credit Billing Act if your credit card information is stolen, your losses are limited to $50 per card. You are not responsible for charges made after you report the card lost or stolen.

 ATM & Debit Cards Federal Law: Your losses are limited to $50 if you report your card lost or stolen within 2 business days. Between two and 60 days you can be liable for up to $500.

60 days after receiving a bank statement the law doesn’t require your bank to reimburse you for any losses.

 VISA & MasterCard Policy: Voluntarily limited debit card liability to the same $50 limit that exists for credit cards.

Credit Freeze: On July 1, 2006, the Florida legislature passed a law that granted residents the right to put a security freeze on their credit reports. A credit freeze prevents potential creditors and other third parties from accessing your credit report at all, unless you lift the freeze or already have a relationship with the company. A credit freeze will prevent a consumer from being granted instant access to credit. However, a consumer who needs to shop for a new loan or credit account can have the freeze temporarily lifted by contacting the credit bureaus. The law says credit reporting agencies have three days from the time they receive the request to lift the freeze.  

 For more information about credit freezes visit

 Free credit reports: Check your credit reports. You are entitled to 1 free credit report from each of the 3 major credit report bureaus once a year. However, beware of imposter sites that seem like they are free but are actually trying to sell you a subscription or service. Here is the contact information for the ONLY federally authorized site (if you contact the credit bureaus directly they will charge):  – don’t misspell it or you will get an “imposter” site. Order by telephone: 1-877-322-8228.