Well the holidays are over, we have overeaten and shopped till we drop. With that said, let's turn to something we need to be very careful about: credit cards. With all the shopping that we did the past few months, let’s make sure our cards were not compromised. So when the bills start coming in, pay close attention to the charges and I hope you kept all the receipts so you can match those charges!
Once again, I want to provide you with information in case you feel that you have become a victim of identity theft, so here is what you need to do right away:
▪ Immediately close accounts you know or believe have been tampered with.
▪ File a police report and submit it to your creditors and others who may require proof of the crime.
▪ Contact the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file.
▪ File your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. You can also call the FTC hotline: 877-IDTHEFT.
▪ Order your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to get one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year. You can get their names at www.annualcreditreport.com/ or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
▪ Correct all mistakes on your credit report in writing. Send a letter to the credit reporting agency identifying the problems item by item. Include a copy of the credit report and send the letter with a return receipt requested.
▪ Make a copy of all your credit card account numbers and bank account numbers and keep it in a safe place.
This past year was truly challenging for many of us, but by working together, staying informed and being involved we can continue to meet the challenges before us in 2015. This year my biggest challenge is meeting the needs of the residents since our budget (Citizens Crime Watch) got cut by $26,000, money we used for educational materials for our residents and our Youth Crime Watch program, but we will do our best. To those that have chosen to implement Neighborhood Watch, I congratulate you because you are making a difference working together with your police officers. Little by little, a block at a time you are helping to keep the crime in check in your area.
In closing I want to say “thank you” to all the readers who have helped in making this column so popular. It is hard to believe that this month I will be starting my 10th year writing this column, which I do as a contribution to the community. You the readers have contributed so much with your suggestions, your personal incidents and emails. Many of you have stated in more than one occasion “this column” has helped you not become a victim. We may not always agree on some issues, but I try very hard to give you the tools necessary so that you may get involved in strengthening our community. Once again, thank you for your support. Have a safe week!
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.