First, Let's Learn a Little - here is some basic information to whet your appetite...
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) defines Identity Theft to include three general types of incidents:
unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account.
unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account.
misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose.
In 2014 CBS reported that Identity theft -- when someone uses such personal data to do anything from fraudulently opening a new bank account to fooling the police -- is a crime on the rise in prominence, and in recent years, prevalence. They say that The Bureau of Justice Statistics, the government agency crunching numbers for the Justice Department, found that 16.6 million American adults experienced identity theft in 2012. That same year, the agency recorded just 6.8 million total non-fatal violent crimes.
Years prior, I was a victim. It seems to have gotten worse, not better…
I vividly remember an afternoon in October of 2007 when I stood at my mailbox opening a letter from Chase, confirming my request to change my Visa card’s address to Quebec. Right away I knew there was a problem, and I was in for a long journey. Then came a similar letter referring to a department store charge card…
I am sharing this story of my identity theft and credit card fraud not because of my own personal situation, but to share my experiences with others, so they can know how to take swift action and avoid serious financial harm.
My second reason is to serve as an advocate to publicize the disinterest of institutions in correcting this national problem. Sometimes this is due to incompetence, but in other cases opportunities to correct system and process problems are intentionally ignored, either due to profit opportunities or denial of wrongdoing. Although Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft have become major issues for many innocent people, and the volume of incidents continues to grow, our government authorities are not properly responding - the bottom line is that there is nobody there to help the individual. If it happens to you, you will need to be armed to take care of yourself.
Next step: Go to Get More Details to learn about the Root Cause of the problem, What to do Next, Law Enforcement and Credit Bureaus, How to Proactively Protect yourself, and Criminal Persistence, and more...
What happens when you lose or forget to cash a check?
Did you accidentally forget about an old insurance policy or bank account?
Maybe you bought investment property years ago?
Did you know you can easily lose your assets due to state Escheatment Laws if your property is classified as abandoned?
Most importantly, did you know you can get it back?
According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA):
2.5 million claims totaling $2.25 billion returned to rightful owners in 2011 as a result of state unclaimed property program efforts. Amount of average claim was $892.
$41.7 billion is waiting to be returned by state unclaimed property programs.
Claims can be made into perpetuity in most cases - even by heirs.
See Unclaimed.org for additional information
After a certain amount of time passes, your lost assets are classified as abandoned and the payee (employer, bank, corporation, investment firm, etc.) is required to turn that unclaimed property over to the state. Each of the 50 states has separate Escheatment laws dictating how to treat the different types of unclaimed property – payroll and other checks, insurance, banking and investment accounts, etc.
Next step: Go to Get More Details to learn about the specific techniques of identifying and Recovering your property, and this simple process can be done it all by yourself!
There are many important reasons for maintaining good records, and a number of related issues. Many of these reasons revolve around protecting yourself and your family:
Your information is scattered, and you can’t easily find it when needed quickly. For example,
Whenever you meet with accountants or financial planners, they want to know your overall portfolio.
If you are or have a college bound student, you need to know the details required in filling out the FAFSA (free application for Federal Student Aid) form.
You don't always remember details of your online accounts or passwords.
You manage everything but your spouse has no idea of records or holdings; or your spouse manages all the records and you have no idea.
Protecting against severe consequences Identity Theft attempts. See Intro to REAL Identity Theft. This is more than simple credit card fraud. Learn from a victim’s perspective on precautions you can take in order to rapidly respond and minimize losses.
Avoiding the loss of Abandoned Property via Escheatment. What happens when you lose or forget to cash a check? Did you accidentally forget about an old insurance policy or bank account? Most importantly, did you know you can get it back? See Intro to Unclaimed/Abandoned Property.
You're helping a parent or other aging person to organize their records, or
You would like your children, partner, custodian, Power of Attorney (POA), or Estate Executor to have a solid grasp of your belongings.
Have you ever served in the role as a Power of Attorney or Estate Executor? Have you been involved or impacted in settling an estate or caring for someone seriously ill? Then you probably already know that during these critical times, you’re often faced with a scavenger hunt to find critical information. It’s better to be prepared for the unexpected.
Also think further about Digital Considerations. We are all First Generation in using personal computers. An issue that hasn’t come into the forefront is technology from your survivor’s perspective. It’s hard enough for you to remember the accounts and passwords for your online shopping, your electronic banking and automatic bill payments, direct deposits/pay stubs, investment accounts… But what if you were incapacitated – how can you possibly expect others to find all of this information and manage your affairs?
One last question: When was the last time you Backed-up Your Brain?
Your Next Step: Organize!
Now that you’ve convinced yourself of the importance of organizing information, it’s time to get started by remembering three things: What, Where, Who. For additional information on this topic, go to Get More Details to see our Organizing Primer. If you do nothing else, at least prepare basic lists manually, and let your family know the location. But clearly, it might be beneficial to consider a tool such as a subscription to MyLegacyBackup to guide you through this task, so you can organize your critical financial and personal information into one secure and centrally accessible solution.
Confronting Mortality and How to Talk to Others about your Legacy
1. Confronting Mortality
There’s a difference between a Lifetime and Perpetual guarantee. We have Lifetime – and it comes with an expiration date. So what if something happened to you? Who would take care of you? What does your caretaker need to know? Will your survivors be taken care of as you intend? But there’s more to it than end-of-life preparation – what about current and future life? Have you or your spouse ever needed information in a hurry and had to go through a scavenger hunt to find it? Have you ever been away from home without access to something you need now, such as an account or password? Does the anxiety of lack of organization haunt you?
How to talk to yourself
Most people are uncomfortable thinking about their mortality, and it’s extra awkward to discuss it with others. Confronting this isn’t easy. But it is important. Failure to deal with this only creates havoc for those left behind. Dealing with this strategically, before it’s urgent, enables you to think thoroughly and objectively.
The easiest way to approach this is by playing an out of body game, placing yourself into the future. You’re in a coma or dead. There – it’s done. The anxiety is behind you. Now, instead of thinking about it from your perspective, think from your survivor’s perspective. No, we're not trying to suggest that this subject can taken lightly; we're trying to help you reach your intentions. Too often people procrastinate, and it’s too late.
If you’re still struggling on this topic and find yourself frozen, try talking with a close friend or family member, and if you’re not up to that, it may be time to seek professional assistance from your attorney, religious, or social services resources.
2. How to Talk to Others
Once your information is gathered and organized, you will need to let the important people in your life know about your critical information, and where it is located. It all starts by proactively designating someone to manage your affairs, as your Power Of Attorney (POA) and Executor, who will be legally acting on your behalf. Now HOW do you tell them?
For more on this topic, go to Get More Details to learn about the specific techniques of discussing your legacy and intentions with your family. What starts as an awkward moment for everyone is an information sharing session that will ultimately be a wonderful gift. We will also be discussing the inverse situation - talking to someone who has designated you as their representative.