Still haven't gotten to that Home Improvement project that has been on your To-Do list all winter?
General Home Repairs ~ Painting ~ Home Inspections ~ Organizing ~ Landscaping ~ Plumbing ~ House Cleaning...
We have a great network of contractors that we can recommend and put you in touch with!
Got kids? Check out these cool "workshops" at Lowes:
Harrisburg has reintroduced two programs to help Home Owners make repairs and bring properties up to code. Check out the article in the Central Penn Business Journal here, or visit the Harrisburg Bureau of Housing's website.
Monitor Your Credit Report and Help Guard Against ID Theft
You probably know something about the problem of
identity theft - situations in
which a con artist uses someone else's name, Social Security number or other
personal details to make purchases, take out loans or commit fraud in the name
of an innocent victim. But do you know how you, with the help of credit
reports and credit bureaus, can help spot or stop the theft of your identity?
First, here's why you should care about fighting ID theft. It is, by far, the
most common fraud complaint that consumers bring to law enforcement authorities
and consumer protection groups. And while federal laws and industry practices
can limit your liability if you become a victim of identity theft, it can take
you a very long time to repair the damage. That includes notifying creditors
and law enforcement that you've been victimized, closing tainted accounts and
opening new ones, and correcting your credit report. You also may be denied
loans, jobs, housing, insurance or other opportunities if an ID theft shatters
your reputation and credit rating.
So, how can you use your credit report to
protect against identity theft?
Monitor your credit report for warning signs, including loans or leases that
have been wrongfully taken out in your name. Also, pay close attention to the
"inquiries" section of the report that shows who has requested a copy
of your credit history. That's because thieves sometimes impersonate business
people with a legitimate right to obtain credit reports.
In general, you should consider obtaining copies of your credit report from the
three major credit bureaus about once a year to verify that the information is
correct. But be aware that there are services that will frequently monitor your
credit report for possible signs of fraud or theft. The fees for these services
(often $70 or $80 for a yearly subscription) can be more costly than obtaining
periodic credit reports on your own, but the added level of convenience may be
worth the cost.
If you find suspicious transactions on your credit report, take the following
Contact creditors to discuss questionable items and close accounts
that you believe are fraudulent or have unauthorized transactions.
Call the fraud department at each of the major
credit bureaus to ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, so
that lenders will be alerted to the fact that you may be a fraud victim. Ask
that the fraud alert state that you do not want new credit extended without
contacting you first.
Contact the local police to file a report. Keep a
copy in case you need it later as proof of the crime.
Consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC), which will store the information in its database so that it
can be accessed by law enforcement agencies worldwide.
How to Minimize Your ID Theft Risk
When it comes to
identity theft, you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim.
But there are certain steps you can take to minimize your risk.
Order a copy of your credit report.
Place passwords on your credit card, bank, and
phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your
mother's maiden name, your birth date, or a series of consecutive numbers.
Secure personal information in your home,
especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having work
done in your home.
Ask about information security procedures in
your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions
that collect your personal information.
Don't give out personal information on the
phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you've initiated the
contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with.
Confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate
organization before you share any personal information. Check an
organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than
cutting and pasting it.
Treat your mail and trash carefully.
Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If
you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call
your post office to request a vacation hold.
Always shred your charge receipts, copies of
credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank
statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail.
Don't carry your Social Security number card;
leave it in a secure place. Only give your Social Security number when
Carry only the credit, debit and
identification cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
Be cautious when responding to promotions.
Identity thieves may create phony promotional offers to get you to give
them your personal information.
Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at
work; do the same with copies of administrative forms that have your
sensitive personal information.
When ordering new checks, pick them up from
the bank instead of having them mailed to your home mailbox.
What's In Your Credit Report?
A credit report contains information on where you work and live, how you pay your
bills, and whether you've been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy.
Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA) gather this information and sell it to
creditors, employers, insurers and others. The three major national credit bureaus
are: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
As of September 1, 2005, all consumers are eligible to receive a free
annual credit report from each of the three major CRAs. The information in
your credit report is used to calculate your credit score - a number
generally between 300 and 850 that rates how risky a borrower you are. The
higher your score, the less risk you pose to creditors.
Anyone who denies you credit, housing, insurance, or a job as a result
of a credit report must give you the name, address, and telephone number of
the CRA that provided the report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA),
you have the right to request a free report within 60 days if a company
denies you credit based on the report.
"You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you."
Mary Tyler Moore
If you have a brokerage relationship with another agency, this is not intended as a solicitation. All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.