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Author Topic: Free Identity Fraud Help  (Read 3465 times)

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Free Identity Fraud Help
« on: May 10, 2005, 07:18 »
Identity fraud is a growing threat and causing an even bigger panic.  It can ruin your credit score, cost you cash and cause a serious hassle headache.   Yet prior planning means it?s possible to get a credit card company to pay for free help if it happens.

In a nutshell

Capital One?s No Hassle Platinum* card offers a free identity fraud help service, even for when the fraud doesn?t involve the card.  The card has no annual fee, and you get the protection even if you just have the card without using it.  There are some issues though so do read on.

What is identity fraud?

It?s when a criminal steals your identity and uses it to run up bills, apply for debts or services leaving you to foot the bill. It can be as simple as going through your rubbish bags, finding your old letters and bank statements and then applying for financial products using your details.   Actually most times you?re rarely liable for cash fraudulently spent, providing you can prove it wasn?t you.

The real problem is sorting it out, and proving it was fraud and not you spending the money. ID theft can lead to unpleasant encounters with debt collectors, court actions and problems getting a mortgage.  This can be stressful and time consuming and the massification of the financial system means you have to fight through it yourself.

How to protect yourself?

Prevention is always the best solution.  Buy a ?shredder?, preferably one that cross-cuts so your documents can?t be read.  Keep your personal information safe and secure; regularly check both statements and your credit reference file details.

What does Capital One?s identity theft service freebie do?

The card, like many others, has fraud protection so you?re not liable if it?s used fraudulently.  Yet the real difference is the identity theft help.  It promises a range of different methods to help you, but the one that counts is it will provide specialist expert advice via an identity fraud helpline seven days a week.  

If you become a victim of identity theft this helpline promises to be able to provide one-on-one help with cancelling any compromised accounts, clearing your name, repairing your damaged credit status and help with filing police reports.  

This is a new service, so currently we have to take Capital One?s word on it (if you use this helpline please report how useful it was to you).  I doubt it will actually solve the problem, but at a stressful time, to have one-on-one help and special documentation would be very welcome.

Who and how to get the protection?

New customers getting the Capital One No Hassle Platinum* get the Identity Theft Assistance included free.  You need ?10k minimum income to apply for it.  The card has no annual fee and you don?t ever need to actually use the card to get the protection so you could apply and just pop-it in a drawer and get the protection without it ever costing you a penny.

For belt and braces though, it?s worth spending on once or twice a year, and paying it off in full so there?s no interest cost, just so it doesn?t smell a rat and get rid of inactive customers. Actually, in its own right this is a good card.  It has a standard rate of 6.9% and is currently the top long term stable rate card for purchases card. Existing Capital One customers can?t apply for this card.  However, if you call up and kick up a fuss, it is likely they will allow it to you.

Is there any reason for not doing this?

You mightn?t get the card

Capital One has a tendency to cherry-pick customers and often doesn?t give you the card applied for, telling you ?you didn?t score well enough?.  If this happens, then as the protection is specific to the card, you?ll miss out.

Credit score risks

If you?re only getting the card for the ID protection, it?s important to consider the impact of applying for a further card on your credit score. The impact is usually negligible.  The real thing to worry about is applying for lots of cards in a short space of time.  This is more important than the absolute number of cards although, if you usually have a good credit score, there is no need to be unduly scared.  

While there?s no limit on card numbers, it?s not a bad way to think about it.  Anecdotally most people who?ve never defaulted don?t have problems until at least ten cards.  A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself when applying for a card,: ?If I?m only going to be allowed a limited number of credit cards, is what I?m applying for important enough to ?use a card up for??

Original Article

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