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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recovering from a Natural Disaster Requires Advance Preparation: Tips from Professional Organizers

Surviving a natural disaster is one thing.  Recovering from it is another.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall with wind speeds of 127 mph.  By the time it was over, 1,833 people had died and damages were estimated at $108 Billion.  An additional $75 billion was paid for in disaster relief.  According to Data Center Research.org,  Katrina was the third
deadliest hurricane in American history and the deadliest since the introduction of the weather satellite.   It was the costliest hurricane in American history.  The pain that accompanied the loss of family members, homes and prized possessions is immeasurable.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Identity Protection Fundamentals: How to Manage Identity Theft Recovery

By Garnet Steen, Founder and President of RelyData and Control Your ID

Each year, about 10 million people become the victim of identity theft. Many more have unauthorized charges made on their credit cards or have to deal with some other form of fraud. Unfortunately, a do-it-yourself identity restoration can take weeks or months and require dozens of hours of your time. In this, the third and final installment in a series on using digital document management to protect yourself from identity theft, SafelyFiled and Control Your ID will cover ways in which digital document management can help you recover from identity theft.

For most people, dealing with identity theft means dealing with organizations like credit bureaus, the IRS, your bank or your insurance company. Some of these organizations will want paperwork from you, others will provide you with paperwork, and in many cases you’ll have conversations you want to log for future reference. Let’s go over the basics.

First, no matter who you deal with you will likely need a fraud affidavit and a police report. Both documents are important, not because the government is likely to investigate your identity theft case, but because organizations that have been defrauded want you to swear out an official statement before they will recognize your claim of fraud. These organizations know that true victims don’t mind filing a police report while those simply trying to avoid paying their bills are very hesitant to perjure themselves.

You can download a standard fraud affidavit form from the FTC and after you complete it you may need to get it notarized. Make sure the notary stamp is in ink and not simply an embossment, so that it will show up in digital copies. Police reports can be filed with any police department including campus police. There is no need to travel to the jurisdiction where the fraud was committed. You can usually obtain a copy of your police report within 24 hours; sometimes you can get a copy immediately.

Second, if you’ve taken our advice from our first two articles, you will have digital copies of your personal identification and your bank, credit card, utility and tax statements. The identification will be needed to verify your name, date of birth, your mailing address and your appearance. If you have credit card accounts that you need to cancel, this will provide you with the contact information and the account numbers to do so.

Third, you’ll want to log all your correspondence by mail or telephone with anyone you talk to, especially the credit bureaus, collection agencies or any organization that was defrauded. You don’t need to create anything fancy – a simple spreadsheet or a text document will suffice. Just make sure to log the date, time, organization and person you corresponded with, any documents you sent or received from them, the purpose of the correspondence and the next steps, if any. An organization might commit to sending you a confirmation letter, or removing a derogatory item from your credit report within 30 days. Make a note of these commitments so you can follow-up as needed.

If you follow these steps and use encrypted digital document management tools like SafelyFiled to maintain your personal records and a log of your correspondence, you’ll be well positioned to manage your own identity recovery. SafelyField blog subscribers can get $25 off Control Your ID's Comprehensive Level (regularly $99.90 per year) identity protection service with no credit card required. To get the offer, just subscribe to SafelyFiled's email list to the right by: submitting your name, email address and entering 'CYID3' in the message box. Subscribe by August 31, 2015 (11:59 p.m. PDT) to qualify.

Friday, August 14, 2015

College, Your Child's Health and a Parent's Right to Know

Over 18 million undergraduate students will be attending college in 2015.1  The majority will be women. And just about all of the students will be over 18.

This means more than you might realize.

It's a New World

Years ago, at a parent orientation for college freshman, my wife and I were advised that even though we may be paying the entire cost of our son's education, we would not be entitled to see his grades.  That seemed a bit unfair, but the moderator at the orientation told us about the privacy laws and how it not only affected grades and any disciplinary actions, but also health records.

That same year, my son changed his doctor from his pediatrician to the same internist I had had for 25 years. When I asked our internist how my son was doing, he gave me a blank stare and reminded me that my son had not given him permission to discuss any aspect of his health with me. "HIPAA," he explained.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Identity Protection Fundamentals: Storing Critical Identity Records

By Garnet Steen, Founder and President of RelyData and Control Your ID

Have you gone paperless with your banking, utility and other documents or are you hanging on to physical copies to review each month and store in case you need them? Whether you’ve gone paperless or are keeping it old school, are those important documents handy? Because if you can’t access them when you need them, they aren’t doing you much good. In this the second in a three part series by SafelyFiled and Control Your ID, we will discuss the importance of digitizing paper documents and transferring digital documents for safekeeping and archival purposes.

There are many reasons why you might need your medical, insurance, banking or utility records. Perhaps you will need to dispute an error with your bank or utility account. You might also need these records for tax preparation, especially if you operate a small business out of your home and want to deduct a portion of your home expenses. Less common, but very important, you might also need these documents to respond to an identity theft incident.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Put Your Credit on Ice

Freezing your credit is a great way to help protect your identity. It's easy, free in most States and can be lifted when YOU want it to be.


We recently learned of this great tip from Lisha Shinolt, CEO of BlessingBox.com LLC and wanted to share the information with you. 

When Lisha told us about this, we had questions.  We weren't buying a house, needing a new credit card or applying for a business loan at the moment, but what if we needed to?  How would freezing our credit reports affect that and our credit (FICO) score?   

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Identity Protection Fundamentals: Scan Identity Documents from Your Wallet

By Garnet Steen, Founder and President of RelyData and Control Your ID

If your wallet is lost or stolen, it may feel like you’ve lost your life. What’s worse, you know that you have a lot of work to do to cancel your credit cards and get new copies of your identity documents. But fear not, you can avoid a major headache by following a few simple steps. In this, the first of a three part series presented by Control Your ID and SafelyFiled, we will cover some easy yet important steps to help you use digital tools to protect your identity.

First, take a quick inventory of your wallet. We recommend you take everything out, and force each item to earn its way back in – you might be surprised that you are still carrying around a coupon that expired five years ago. Even if you don’t take everything out, take out the things a criminal might be interested in. Take out credit and debit cards, government identification, and perhaps even gift cards or other valuable items that you wouldn’t want to lose.