It is common knowledge that your personal information should be kept private to reduce the chances of identity theft or credit card fraud. Protecting your personal information is important not only when you are out and about each day, but also when you are making financial transactions online. With all this emphasis on privacy and security, the fact remains that your information is required to complete certain transactions. People who are already facing a financial crisis may be more vulnerable to sharing this information when enrolling in programs or processes which are intended to provide debt relief. Here are a few tips to help minimize your risk.
- Research who will have access to your information- Before enrolling in a program or entrusting a company with bank or credit card information, take the time to research the company. Find out who will have access to your personal information and what type of security systems are in place to prevent unauthorized use. Check the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints about the company that may indicate they are not on the up-and-up. Another way to get a better feel for a company is by looking for reviews from previous clients. These steps may uncover issues which would indicate the company should be avoided.
- Never give your bank information to a debt collector- Regardless of the abusive tactics used by debt collectors, do not succumb to the pressure to pay a past due debt if you don't have the money to pay that debt. If you do have the money and want to send a payment, do so on your terms. Never provide your checking account information and authorization for an electronic debit as form of payment. There are people who have agreed to a certain amount only to find all of their money has been removed.
- Play close attention to bank account activity. Although you shouldn't use electronic payments to pay a debt through a debt collector, automated debits are common when working with the credit card company directly or certain debt settlement companies. In most cases if you have been behind on payments and the creditor is either working with you or has agreed to settle for less than you owe, they require an automated draft to ensure they get their money by the designated date. If this is the case, you not only have to ensure the money is available, but also that the correct amount is withdrawn. Not every person, company or transaction is subject to suspicion, however both human and technological errors occur.
The tips covered here may not help you get out of debt, but they will help you prevent further financial distress. Whether on purpose or by accident, incorrect transactions posted to your bank account could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. No one can afford to lose that kind of money, especially someone already struggling with unpaid debt.
What do you think? Have you ever been “burned” by giving out your personal information? If so, comment below:
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