Q: I know you've written about the importance of credit reports (which I've saved), but are there other resources available to help us spot identity theft?
- Carla Cautious
Dear Ms. Cautious: First, I'm delighted you've put aside the credit report information in the event you should need it for possible ID theft or simply to check and make certain all your personal and financial information is correct.
For those first-timers, I can't emphasize this enough: go online to annualcreditreport.com (and no other website) or call 877-322-8228 for your free reports. You can obtain all three collectively once a year or spread them out and receive one every four months, which I advocate.
Annual reports are also available from other and less familiar sources. Used primarily by specific industries, such as healthcare, you can ask for these once a year - most for free. While I'll mention only some of the most useful for the majority of consumers who are trying to prevent ID theft, AARP tells us to go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cfpb.org) and search for "consumer reporting agencies" to find all 40 reports.
Check-writing history can be obtained by contacting:
1 Certegy Check Systems at 866-543-6315 or askcertegy.com.
2 Chexsystems at consumer debit.com or 800-428-9623.
3 TeleCheck/FirstData at 800-366-2425 or online at firstdata.com.
If banking online, re-read last week's column about passwords. If you still write checks, please invest in a cross-cut shredder and use it for checks and all personal and financial info.
Health care is more important than you know. More and more scammers are stealing your ID numbers, along with everything else they can get their grimy, greedy, grasping hands on. We can't be too careful to protect this vital information.
1 The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) reports contain coded listings of our reported conditions and tests; call 866- 692-6901 or request these from mib.com.
2 Contact your health insurer for a yearly statement of all claims and treatments. Then, compare the two for possible medical fraud/ID theft.
3 To check RX histories, call Milliman IntelliScript at 877-211-4816 or go online at rxhistories.com. A third source is Optum Medpoint at 888-206-0335.
Insurance claims can be checked at Verisk A-Plus Report. Call 800-627-3487 or type "order free report" in the search box at verisk.com. Check out auto and property insurance sources from LexisNexis Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). Look on risk.lexisnexis.com or call 800-869-0751.
Public records, including property ownership, criminal history, liens, and bankruptcy, may be obtained by mail from LexisNexis Personal Reports. Print the request form from personal reports.lexisnexis.com.
Rental history is available from corelogic.com/landing-pages/SafeRent-Consumer.aspx (Whew!) or call 888-333-2413.
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Sunday. Email her at consumer firstname.lastname@example.org.