Friday Grab Bag – 8/28/2009

Should have checked his credit before saying “I Do”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the above video, which shows a bride and groom getting their car repossessed on their wedding day. Let this be a reminder that no matter how well you think you know a person, financial surprises could always be lurking. In between picking out wedding invitations and floral centerpieces, make time to take a good look at each other’s credit reports. You never know what you might find. In this case, the husband hadn’t been making his car payments, and the debt collectors picked the most inopportune date to repossess the car (still strung with cans from the wedding celebration). Thanks to GirlsJustWannaHaveFunds for posting.

Mixed credit files are a pain, but not the end of the world

Jim at Bargaineering discusses how his credit file was mixed with someone else’s (they shared eight out of nine digits of their Social Security number). It was a pain to fix, requiring photocopying and faxing 50 pages of proof of identity, address, and telephone number to the credit bureau. But putting in this kind of effort is well worth it – you don’t want lenders evaluating your loan application based on someone else’s financial history. It’s smart to pull your credit files from all three bureaus to scan for anything fishy, and give yourself plenty of time to clear up mistakes before approaching lenders. Even after you think everything is squared away, you should always be vigilant of your credit to ensure the same mix-ups haven’t found their way back onto your report.

Debt collectors use social networking to track you down

Think you were so smart by moving but not letting the Tax Man know where to find you? Think again. Tax collectors are using any tools they can get their hands on to track you down. These days, that may mean simply logging onto Facebook to see where you’re going to be on Friday night. Private debt collectors, too, have been turning to social networking for awhile now. While finding debtors this way may be legal in some states, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act specifically forbids debt collectors from notifying third parties of the debt you owe. So posting the fact that “You owe $8,000 in back payments on your Mercedes” on your MySpace or Facebook page is completely illegal.

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and wife are ID theft victims

Don’t tell anyone, but I actually like when celebrities and politicians fall victim to identity theft. Before you get up in arms about that statement, think about it: Famous people can usually cut through red tape like butter, so clearing their name after a bout with ID theft is way easier for them than it is for the rest of us. And, more importantly, when identity theft happens to big wigs, it raises much-needed awareness about this increasing problem. In Ben Bernanke’s case, it all started when a thief stole the purse of Anna, his wife, from the back of a chair in Starbuck’s. She made a classic mistake by carrying not only her Social Security Card in her wallet (a major no-no), but also a joint checkbook that had her home address, telephone number, and bank account number printed on the checks. Of course, the Bernanke family suffered no financial loss after a phone call to their bank, and Secret Service launched an intense investigation that has led to the discovery of a major identity theft ring responsible for this theft and countless others. So really, it was a win-win for everyone.

One Tree Hill actor sold Social Security numbers

Winona Ryder shoplifts, Wesley Snipes skips out on his taxes, and now Antwon Tanner from the popular show One Tree Hill gets involved with an identity theft crime ring. (Yeah, I hadn’t heard of Antwon either, but he’s got at least B-list status, right?). I don’t get why celebrities turn to crime. Do their acting gigs not pay enough? Do they just want to see how much they can get away with? Do they manage their money incredibly poorly? Tanner, who has made no comment on why he got involved with the scheme, faces up to a year in prison.

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