Behind the Numbers: Consumers Report a New Top Gripe

Despite a 47 percent increase in complaints from the previous year, identity theft wasn’t the nation’s top consumer complaint in 2015 — for the first time in 16 years, according to an annual review by the Federal Trade Commission. That dubious distinction goes to abusive debt collectors, according to the FTC’s latest Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. But it’s no simple apples-to-apples comparison: With 897,655 complaints, debt collectors tallied 29 percent of all reports “due in large part to a …

Coupon Scams: Don’t Get Clipped

Maybe you saw that recent Facebook post promising a free $200 Nordstrom gift card. Or perhaps it was that $100 coupon for Lowe’s, which just resurfaced after a similar “campaign” last spring, or the latest coupon on social media, touting a free Disneyland vacation for four. Like umpteen others that come and go, each of these recent frauds was part of at least 300 billion fake coupon offers annually that aim to pinch those who are trying to pinch pennies. (Just …

Preventing Child ID Theft With a Credit Freeze

No matter where you live, a credit freeze is a great way for you to prevent identity theft — particularly the opening of new credit cards, loans and service accounts in your name. But depending on where you live, a freeze isn’t easy to get for your offspring. Although legislation has been introduced, currently there are no federal laws concerning credit freezes for children, and only 23 states have passed laws requiring credit reporting bureaus to freeze a minor’s credit …

New Tool to Help Victims Recover From Identity Theft

Identity theft has become so prevalent that some regulators say it’s not a matter of if you’ll become a victim, but when. Last year alone, the Federal Trade Commission received 490,000 complaints of identity theft from consumers, a 47 percent increase over the year before. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. An estimated 17.6 million consumers’ identities were stolen in 2014, according to the Department of Justice. Ways to save, expert investment advice, scam alerts and more! — AARP …

Why Taxpayers Should Worry About Identity Theft

A month-long window of opportunity has opened up for scammers, and its timing is crucial for honest taxpayers. Here’s why: Identity theft. Documents that you need in order to file your 2015 tax returns should start arriving soon in your mailbox. Employers are required to mail W-2 and 1099 forms by Jan. 31; banks and brokerage firms may have later deadlines. With your Social Security number and other sensitive information, this paperwork provides identity thieves with enough details to open …

Scam-Proof 2016 With These 7 Simple Steps

Happy New Year! Start 2016 on the right foot, with these simple steps to reduce your risk of scams: Freeze your credit file. The best way to proactively prevent identity theft (as well as minimize damage after it occurs), a credit freeze restricts access to your credit report. Without being able to review it, most creditors won’t issue loans, credit cards or other credit in your name – helpful when your personal data falls into the wrong hands, whether resulting from …