How To Protect Your Financial Privacy
Your financial life is an open book to any individual or company with a personal computer, a modem, and the right access codes. That's because many local and national computer databases have records of your name, address, and some part of your personal finances, including information that you may regard as no one's business but your own. You usually won't even know when a business or individual decides to check up on you.
Today, part of your financial situation becomes a record in a database when you apply for credit, order by mail, pay your taxes, buy a car, etc. Usually, transaction records are not a problem, but databases do give strangers access to information you may not want them to have. That can lead to annoying phone calls and ads that clog your mail box. Occasionally, the problem isn't annoyance but fraud.
You can't avoid some loss of your privacy. If you want a mortgage or other credit, you have to disclose details about your income and assets. No disclosure, no loan. You also can't control the distribution of some information. For example, motor vehicle registrations, real estate transactions, and property tax payments are public records. And you have to authorize continuing scrutiny of your credit history if you want the convenience of a charge card. While you can't stop the recording of information on your finances, you certainly can do more to protect your privacy.
Guard Your Social Security Number
The first rule of information control is: Make your data available only when there is a real need for someone else to know it. Your Social Security number is the key to most automated information sharing and record matching. Make sure you give out your number only when necessary. Unless you are paying your income taxes, don't put your Social Security number on your checks and don't keep your number in your wallet. A lost or stolen wallet with your Social Security number can make it easy for someone else to obtain new credit in your name. Many banks, investment funds, and other organizations where you may have an account use Social Security numbers for telephone access to account information. Request another number.
Rely More On Cash
When you choose to pay with checks or credit cards, you are also choosing to give out information about where you bank and your address (if it's on your checks). A check or credit card also means a detailed record of what, when, and where you buy. Customer names and addresses become store mailings andif the customer list is soldother solicitations. You can easily eliminate these purchase records by using more cash when you buy and having your receipts made out to cash.
Using an 800 number is a convenient cost saver, but not if the company you call isn't reputable. Your call can be the electronic source of your name and address for undesirable solicitation lists or worse if you give out a credit card number to someone who misuses it. Make sure you know the companies you call are legitimate businesses. You'll eliminate possible problems and a source of future unwanted phone calls.
Clean Your Name Off Lists
Major mail-order companies are careful about whom they allow to use their lists of customers. But you can ask companies you buy from not to release your name to others. You can also have your name eliminated from mass mailing lists by writing to the Direct Marketing Association (P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735).
Take Reasonable Care
Protecting your financial privacy is mostly a matter of taking
reasonable care. Be careful to avoid revealing more than you
need to, especially your Social Security number. And be careful
about the organizations and persons you give information todirectly
The information above is provided as a service by #1 Insurance Quotes Life Disability Insurance. Protecting your personal and financial security is important to us. A #1 Insurance Quotes Life Disability Insurance Representative, working in conjunction with your other professional advisors, can be instrumental in helping you plan for the best financial future for you and your family. Please contact us if you have any questions or are in need of planning assistance.