By Elizabeth Kudwa
Q: I understand I can now get a free copy of my credit report. How do I do that?
A: A regular review of your credit reports is one of the best things you can do for your financial well-being. The best and safest place to obtain a free copy of your credit report is a www.annualcreditreport.com. This website was created by the three national credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Thanks to the newly created Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act), every consumer is entitled to receive one copy of their credit report from these three agencies every 12 months.
Q: I hear so much about identity theft nowadays. Where can I go to get reliable information on this subject?
A: There are three web sites that are reliable sources of information on identity theft.
Federal Trade Commission
Contains 4 steps you should follow if you suspect your identity has been stolen, laws pertaining to identity theft and allows identity theft complaints to be filed.
Also offers statistics on the increasing incidents of identity theft across the U.S.
Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC)
ITRC is a nonprofit, nationwide program dedicated exclusively to identity theft. They provide consumer and victim support and advise governmental agencies, legislators and companies about this evolving and growing crime. Their website contains a wealth of valuable information such as an extensive list of what to do if you are a victim, a quiz to help you determine how savvy you are with regard to identity theft, a list of current scams and alerts and an identity theft reference library.
Fight Identity Theft
Contains recent news blurbs about identity theft incidents, lists major scams and describes how they work, highlights telemarketing and junk mail scams and provides information on how to get added to the “do not call” registry, provides information on how to obtain a credit report and lists ID theft legislation.
Q: What should I do if my wallet or purse is stolen?
A: Photocopying the contents of your wallet, or any other important documents, is a great way to keep a record of these important items. Copy both sides of each license, credit and/or debit card, etc… This way you will know what you had in your wallet as well as all of the account numbers and phone numbers. Calling to cancel stolen cards will be a much easier task with this information waiting for you at home. Keep the photocopy in a safe place, separate from your wallet.
The Federal Trade Commission has some additional tips:
1. File a report with the police immediately.
2. Cancel each credit card that was in your stolen wallet/ purse.
1. Call any one of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to place an “initial fraud alert” on your credit report.
2. Report the loss or theft to your bank if your wallet/ purse contained banking account information. Cancel existing accounts and open new ones. Obtain a new ATM card with a new PIN number.
3. Contact the Secretary of State to start the process of obtaining a new driver’s license.
4. Change the locks on your home or car if your keys also were stolen.
For additional information visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/getpurse.htm
Upcoming Personal Finance Classes at CADL
Advance registration is required. Please call 517-267-7171 or visit http://www.secu.org/index/newsinformation.shtml.
* Explore the Myths and Realities of Estate Planning
Taught by Attorney Melissa Allen
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6-7:30 p.m.
South Lansing Library, 3500 S. Cedar St.
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6-7:30 p.m.
Holt Library, 2078 Aurelius Rd.
Elizabeth (Liz) Kudwa is the Business Reference Librarian at the Capital Area District Library. The library is located at
401 S. Capitol Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933. The phone number is 517-334-1522 or e-mail her directly at