Feature Article
Mark Pribish
Protect Your Identity Through Your Credit, Medical, and Drivers License Reports
By Mark Pribish, National Director of Sales
Merchants Information Solutions, Inc.

According to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACT Act), every consumer in the United States - since September 1, 2005 - has had access to their free credit files disclosure or credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com.

Annualcreditreport.com was created and is sponsored by the three major consumer credit reporting agencies including Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. In accordance with the FACT Act, consumers have the right to request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from these agencies.

I always encourage my family and friends to order their credit reports once every four months (i.e. January, May and September) - so that they are able to benchmark any changes to their credit file. While the primary option for consumers in obtaining a credit report is to go on-line to view and print their credit report through a secure internet connection - consumers can also request their free credit report via an automated phone (877-322-8228) call. A consumer can also complete the annual credit report request form and mail it to the following address:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

What you may not know is, under the Fair Credit Reporting ACT (FCRA), consumers have the right to obtain information from the MIB Group, Inc. -- formerly known as the Medical Information Bureau - and today known as MIB.

MIB is a membership corporation owned by almost 500 member insurance companies located in the United States and Canada. According to MIB, their mission is to detect and deter fraud that "may occur in the course of obtaining life, health, disability income, critical illness, and long term care insurance."

The MIB file contains coded information that identifies medical conditions and/or medical tests that are reported by MIB members to MIB under broad categories. There are also a few codes that are non-medical. These codes report potentially hazardous jobs or hobbies - or of a motor vehicle report showing a negative driving history. MIB has no actual reports or medical records on file, just the coded information by the member.

Consumers in the United States can receive a copy of their MIB consumer file once a year at no cost by calling MIB's toll-free number for disclosure at 866-692-6901.

Please note that MIB can provide a medical consumer file only if a consumer has applied for individually underwritten life, health or disability income during the last seven years.

Consumers also have access to their driving license status by contacting their individual Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) by state or by going through a third party marketing company. Whether you are applying for a job as a commercial driver or considering a new auto insurance company, it is a good idea to check out your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). Your MVR will include traffic convictions, points, suspensions, etc., which will help you understand your eligibility for employment and/or better insurance rates.

Unlike the credit report and medical report - there is a cost to a MVR report that can vary from state and/or third party. For example, in Arizona (where I live) I can go on-line to view and print a copy of my 39 month driver license record at a cost of $3.00.

So, in an effort to protect you and your family from identity theft and to have the latest and greatest information, you may want to obtain your latest and greatest credit information, medical information, and drive license information - to check for accuracy and completeness - as well as to make sure that no one else is using your name and personal information.

Scam Central

The "Lottery Scam"

How It Works:

Victims typically are notified by e-mail, phone or mail that they have won a lottery, but are required to pay transfer fees, taxes or provide proof of their identity and/or details of their bank accounts or credit cards in order to receive the "winnings". While the notifications use similar wording to steal personal information, the scammers constantly change the name of their organizations as soon as their last one is exposed.

Your Defense:

Here are some points that will help you avoid lottery scams:

  • You cannot win a legitimate lottery if you have not entered it.
  • In almost all cases you must purchase a ticket to enter a legitimate lottery.
  • You never have to pay to collect winnings from a legitimate lottery and you pay taxes after you receive the winnings.
  • If you hold a winning lottery ticket, you notify the lottery (they do not notify you; not by email, not by phone, not by mail).
  • It is illegal under U.S. federal law to play any foreign lottery from the United States. Many other countries have similar laws.
  • Since scammers simply invent new names for their fake lottery scams, it is more accurate to say that if you do not see the lottery on the list of legitimate lotteries, it is probably a scam.
  • If it isn't conducted by a government or government-authorized charitable organization, it can't be a legitimate lottery.

If you believe you have received a solicitation in the guise of a sweepstakes which is an illegal lottery, you should contact your local post office or state Attorney General's consumer protection office. If you believe your identity has been stolen, call 866.SMART68 today to speak to a Recovery Advocate.