With the implosion of the housing market, the collapse of credit, and the unpredictable ups and downs of Wall Street, how do you protect what you have?
If you listen to the news, you’ve heard that trillions of dollars have been lost in savings this year alone, 7.6 million people are newly unemployed, and there is a record high in home foreclosures & bankruptcies with more to come. Add to that the fact that, according to the Consumers Union, 8.3 million + Americans have their identities stolen each year .
The news is worrisome at best, the outlook bleak for the near future. But, don’t paralyze. Get busy informing yourself and protecting what you have and what you plan to accumulate in the upcoming years. You may not know enough now but, by this time next year, let’s all vow to be better informed.
Should you handle your finances on your own?
To begin with, know your rights and study your investments. The ones you trust your money to should know what they’re doing. Do they? Ultimately, you are the one who is responsible for your own success.
What are some pro-active things you can do?
1) Put a security freeze on your credit reports. This will stop new credit from being established in your name helping to keep you from becoming a victim of credit fraud. Credit freeze is available from all 3 major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Freeze is free if you’ve had your identity stolen or from $5-$20 depending upon the state you’re in if you chose to do something before yours is. Why wait?
2) Use a real estate attorney to represent you when buying a home. Mortgage fraud is huge. Many brokers receive incentives to charge fees and higher interest. Make sure you have someone representing your best interests when dealing with something as big as a home loan. Unless, of course, you read and understand all the fine print..
Did you know that, in most states, mortgage brokers have no responsibility to act in the best interest of their client? Congress is working to change those laws, but don’t wait for someone else to protect you.
3) Before investing with an investment broker:
Remember, anytime a middle man handles your money, you will lose some of your wealth to the expense of using them. Is yours paid by commission? Do they make more money the more trades they convince you to do?
Before investing, always take time to get a second opinion from someone informed. Study the investment to be as informed yourself as you can be before signing anything. Take as long as you need to decide. Slow down and know what you’re doing. It’s your money, after all.
Here are some resources:
Identity Theft Resource Center – for understanding and protection from Identity Theft
Financial Privacy Now – see if your state allows security freezes on your credit report
Consumer Fraud Reporting -if you have been the victim of identity theft
FINRA – protect yourself from investment fraud
MoneyMunk – how and what of identity theft
Do you have any links you can add or stories you can share?