What is a credit repair offer scam?

Credit repair offers promised to erase bad credit, get new Social Security numbers or allow consumers to piggyback on someone else’s credit record — all usually for a large fee.

In reality, no one can legally remove negative information from a credit report, it’s nearly impossible to get a new Social Security number and piggybacking on someone else’s credit may be considered loan fraud.

Anyone using a credit repair service should beware of companies that:
1. Don’t tell you your legal rights and what you can do legally for free
2. Recommend that you not contact a credit bureau directly
3. Want you to pay for credit repair services before any services are provided
4. Advise you to dispute all information in your credit report
5. Take any action that seems illegal, such as creating a new credit identity by obtaining a federal employer identification number to use instead of a Social Security number
6. Offer to let you “piggyback” on other consumer’s good credit

Before using a credit repair service, check them out first via a free Better Business Bureau Reliability Report.

Tax season is a popular time for identity thieves. Documents sent and received by taxpayers contain information valuable to identity thieves: your name, address, bank and financial account information, and most importantly, your Social Security number. It’s important to be careful with handling tax-related documents and information.

Ways to minimize the risk of identity theft:

  • Paper Security. Keep tax paperwork in a safe, locked location.
  • Document Disposal. Use a paper shredder for papers you no longer need, like receipts, anything with account and Social Security numbers and loan documents.
  • Online Security. Use and update your firewall, antivirus, and spyware software to protect you from invasion.
  • Mail Theft Prevention. Get your mail every day — your mailbox is an invitation for an identity thief. Use e-file for your federal taxes or take your tax forms directly to the post office.
  • Tax Preparers and Personal Privacy. Be selective who works on your taxes. Ask how your information will be stored, what computer security software is used and if the person working on your taxes has undergone background screening.
  • Tax Time Scams. If you receive an email asking for your Social Security number or financial information, delete it. The IRS does not send emails or use email to contact you to provide checking account information for your return.