State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) joins federal and State agencies in highlighting February 5th through February 11th as National Consumer Protection Week. This week empowers consumers by highlighting current consumer protection and education efforts in the fight against fraud in communities across the nation.
"Whether you're investing in a business opportunity, buying or selling on the Internet, or looking for a scholarship, a home loan, or a great deal on a dream vacation, it pays to know how to spot a scam," Senator Farley said.
Senator Farley said tips on a wide range of consumer protection issues are available at a federal website, www.consumer.gov/ncpw. Senator Farley also said a Consumer Action Day will be held on Tuesday, February 7th, at the Empire State Plaza in Albany from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Representatives of State and federal agencies will be available to answer consumer-related questions.
Senator Farley also reminds constituents that under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), they are able to order one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies. To order, click on www.annualcreditreport.com, call toll-free (877) 322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Forms are available at the website www.annualcreditreport.com, or by contacting Senator Farley's office at 412 LOB, Albany (455-2181); 2430 Riverfront Center, Amsterdam (843-2188); or 33-41 East Main St., Johnstown (762-3733).
"By checking your credit report on a regular basis, you can catch mistakes that might affect your credit rating," Senator Farley said. "Also, you can determine whether an identity thief has opened accounts in your name."
Senator Farley said a person can order all three credit reports at the same time, which would allow the person to compare them, or order one now and others later in the year, which helps monitor developments over the year.
Senator Farley also gives suggestions on guarding your identity:
* Guard your computer password and use only secure lines to transmit financial information via the Internet. Look for an unbroken key or lock in the corner of your computer screen to signify a secure connection.
* Ask why a merchant needs private information, how it will be used and secured, and whether it will be shared with others. Ask if you can choose to have it kept confidential.
* Know the privacy policies of businesses with which you deal and websites that you visit.
* Ask about information security procedures in your workplace. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that records are kept in a secure location. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well.
* Guard your mail and trash from theft. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox and deposit outgoing mail in official post office boxes. Tear or shred documents that contain personal information before depositing in the trash.
* Don't give credit card, debit card or bank account information over the Internet or phone, unless you've initiated the contact and/or you are dealing with an established business that you know.
* Don't give your Social Security number to anyone, except your employer, government agencies, lenders and credit bureaus.