Receiving mail used to be a fun thing. It’s like when you first get married or move away from home and you have an actual address and mailbox of your own. To walk out to the mailbox and check the mail every day, it was exciting, right?
You never knew what you were getting and you poured over each and every piece of mail that you received, including junk mail, because it was something new and enjoyable, and you were adulting.
Fast forward to today. You have had your mailbox for quite a while now, and you’re receiving paper mail that just isn’t much fun to receive anymore. You get so much paper junk mail that you have to empty your garbage can daily just from the accumulation of it.
Receiving multiple letters and propaganda from the same companies, day after day, that want your business. You just want it to stop. It’s overwhelming.
Now, if the overabundance of paper mail isn’t enough, you also have e-mail mailboxes to check now, too. You have an e-mail account for work, and an e-mail account for home; your e-mail boxes are piling up with unsolicited e-mails every day. Miss a day or two of purging your e-mails, and again, you have a big mess on your hands.
Well, you should be aware that unsolicited paper mail and e-mails can be scams. Some of the items you receive in both your mailbox and e-mail mailboxes are designed to trick you, and could harm your finances and/or credit in some way.
Be leery of everything you receive. If you are in doubt, ask someone you trust to check it out for you. You cannot be too careful in today’s times. Never give out personal information, such as your account numbers, debit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or even birthdates, either on paper, computer or by phone.
Actually, your birthdate is but a piece of a small puzzle that fraudsters need in order to steal your identity and commit identity theft. They can access your accounts, take out loans, obtain credit cards and even get mobile phones in your name, if they have all the pieces.
If identity theft does happen, it’s hard to get it rectified. If you think your identity has been compromised, immediately call the Equifax Fraud Department hotline at 1-800-525-6285 and report that you think your identity has been stolen, or visit www.equifax.com to report it. Equifax will direct your steps from there.
The average reported time it takes to rectify a stolen identity issue can take anywhere from seven hours to a month or longer, with extreme cases taking over 1,200 hours.
As for unsolicited e-mail, you would think that clicking on the unsubscribe link, that’s usually provided on the e-mail, would be the answer. However, this is not always so. The clever hackers or bad guys, who initiated the junk mail piece, are actually hoping that you “do” click on the unsubscribe link because that action has been designed to give them access to your computer. When they have access, they can view your photos, access your financial information or accounts, (if the information is on your computer), or anything else that you may have stored on your hard drive. They can actually do these things without your knowledge, once you have clicked on the link.
Years ago, we never had to worry about such things, and surely not nearly as often. Things are a lot different in today’s time than it used to be. Scammers are everywhere searching for every way they can to make their fortune, and sadly many good people have been victimized.
Mothers of young children should also be careful with the same information. Children under the age of 18 can also become victims of identity theft, often to obtain credit or employment. Sometimes, the social security number and credit history of a child is even more valuable than an adult’s, because it is a clean slate and will usually remain unchecked for quite a few years, according to the child’s age.
Please keep your and your child’s identity safe.