Is your Social Security number protected? What about your date of birth? With those two key bits of information, fraud artists can steal your identity, open new credit accounts in your name, and wreak havoc on your financial security. Unfortunately, the COVID 19 pandemic has created new opportunities for identify theft: after applying for unemployment compensation, some members report that the unemployment office informed them someone else had already applied using the member’s identity.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Financial Security and Your Identity:
You should file a fraud report with Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance program if you learn someone else has used your identity to apply for unemployment. You should also file a police report.
- You can file a report with Unemployment Insurance online at: https://www.uimn.org/fraud-report/
- You can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at: https://www.identitytheft.gov. The website will assist in developing a recovery plan if your identity is stolen.
- You should file a police report with your local police department and report the possible fraud.
On-Going Protection of Your Financial Security:
Once a person has your Social Security number and date of birth, that person can begin opening up new credit accounts in your name. If you do not monitor your credit reports, you may find yourself in challenging economic straits. You might want to apply for a new car loan, or buy a house using a mortgage, or rent a new apartment or house. If your identity is stolen, your credit could be ruined, and you might not be able to do any of these things.
Fortunately, because of federal regulations and laws, it is easier to monitor your credit reports and to control access to your credit reports. Three main credit reporting agencies exist; all are accessible on-line. Each is required to provide you with a free credit report one time every year (if you request it).
Now, through the federal government’s Federal Trade Commission website, you can receive a credit report from each credit reporting agency once per week through April 2021.
You may want to do the following:
- Request and review your credit reports from Experian, Transunion and Equifax credit reporting agencies at the website: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action
(note that this is the website that the Federal Trade Commission directs you to).
- Learn more about credit, debt, home loans and are consumer related matters at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports
- You can put a “freeze” on your credit at each of the 3 credit reporting agencies. This “freeze” means that you are able to control if and when your credit information is released to another person or business. You can “freeze” your report now, and then “unfreeze” it if you need to apply for a credit card, a loan, an apartment, or something else in the future.
To create a “freeze” at Experian, go to: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html#content-01
To create a “freeze” at Equifax, go to: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/
To create a “freeze” at Transunion, go to: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze
Your Union’s Member Only Benefits:
As an SEIU Local 284 union member, many financial benefits are available to you. We encourage you to learn more at our Union’s website, https://www.seiumb.com and at the AFL-CIO website: https://www.unionplus.org
A few notable financial benefits are:
- Credit counseling: https://www.unionplus.org/hardship-help/credit-counseling
- Debt management: https://www.unionplus.org/hardship-help/debt-management
- Life, Homeowners, Renters and Auto Insurance: https://www.unionplus.org/benefits/insurance
- Auto Buying and Goodyear Tire Discount: https://www.unionplus.org/benefits/auto
- Mortgages, Cell phone discounts, shopping discounts: https://www.unionplus.org/benefits/home
- A legal services plan: https://www.seiumb.com/insurance/us-legal-services
- Free 2 year Associate’s Degree (for the member and her / his family): https://www.seiumb.com/education/seiu-free-college-benefit
Keeping Our Union Strong
We’ll continue to work together to keep our Union strong. Please be in contact with us about how, together, we can build power in our workplaces and continue to fight for strong contracts that protect worker rights, wages, and benefits.