Right about now is the time when many of us are searching for scholarships and financial aid for our college-bound kids. Or maybe Junior is interviewing for his first job — or Muffy is buying her first car. In the middle of the paperwork, you might get a nasty surprise: your child’s credit report shows unpaid bills and a loan default. What? My child’s credit report? Children and young teens aren’t even legally able to open credit accounts on their own; you wouldn’t expect them to have a credit report. So what happened? Most likely, it’s identity theft.
A child's Social Security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits and tax refunds, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live. The best way to know if your child’s information is being misused is to check for a credit report. Even if you don’t suspect identity theft, it’s a good idea to see if there is a credit file on your child. Do a check at their 16th birthday. And if needed, take action immediately.
When Langston Hughes wrote about a dream deferred (and asked whether it dries up like a raisin in the sun), he wasn’t necessarily thinking of scams. But many Spanish speakers found their immigration dreams deferred (if not ended) and their money taken by a Baltimore-based couple who promised help with immigration services.
Have you gotten an email with the subject line “Pending consumer complaint” that looks like it came from the FTC? The email warns that a complaint against you has been filed with the FTC. It asks you to click on a link or attachment for more information or to contact the FTC.
These emails pull out all the stops to look official: They have an FTC seal, references to the “Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)” and a “formal investigation,” and what look like real FTC links. The truth is that they’re fakes.
If you’re applying for a job or trying to rent an apartment, the employer or landlord might conduct a background check. They may hire a company to provide information like your employment history, your driving record, any criminal records, and your credit report. The information in the background report could make the difference in whether you get the job or apartment, so it’s important it be accurate.
Two companies that each made millions of dollars selling background reports, but didn’t take reasonable steps to make the reports completely accurate, recently settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act and FTC Act.
If you’re in the market for a new or used car, you may be considering financing options. For example, you might get a loan from a bank or use dealership financing. In either case, you’ll have to sign a contract that specifies the terms, including how much money you owe and what your payments are.
If you’re a college student seeking financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you can. Yes, I know, the deadline for submitting the FAFSA is June 30th, but many states and schools allocate funds on a first-come, first-served basis. What’s more, some states have deadlines for filing the FAFSA to be eligible for certain kinds of aid.
“Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing that will take place in the court of Tallahassee in April 02, 2014 at 09:00 am.” Signed, the Clerk to the Court.
Sound official? Like the fake funeral notices we wrote about recently, emails like this have been going around trying to convince concerned — or curious — people to click on the supposed “court notice.”