Quarter Three 2017 Commentary

The stock market continued to cooperate in quarter three ending with a positive week, month, quarter, year-to-date and trailing year! Company fundamentals remained solid and economic indicators remained generally positive.

What of our long overdue correction?

“Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves. I can’t recall ever once having seen the name of a market timer on Forbes’ annual list of the richest people in the world. If it were truly possible to predict corrections, you’d think somebody would have made billions by doing it.”

Peter Lynch

The Equifax Hacking

Fifty-eight percent of the adult US population had its identity stolen in the Equifax hacking.

Rest assured, there is safety in numbers!

If your identity has not been stolen or you are not sure if it has been stolen:

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report (doing so will not count against your credit score) from one of the three credit agencies: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. You can obtain one report from each agency once a year so by rotating every four months between the three agencies you can create your own free credit monitoring service. Call 877-322-8228 or go to www.annualcreditreport.com for your free report.

Sign up for a credit monitoring service. The service will check your credit, daily for most services, to see if anyone has tried to access your record. If someone has, you will receive notification and you can immediately place a fraud alert on your account. I have found great peace-of-mind in using such a service for many years now.

I use a free (with membership) service through the American Automobile Association (AAA). Equifax is offering free monitoring for one year. Credit Karma offers a free service but you must agree to Credit Karma sharing your name for credit solicitations. Paid subscription monitoring is also available through Experian and TransUnion as well as numerous others: LifeLock, Fast3 Credit Services, Privacy Guard, Identity Guard, and My FICO – just to name a few.  I use a free (with membership) service through the American Automobile Association (AAA). Equifax is offering free monitoring for one year. Credit Karma offers a free service but you must agree to Credit Karma sharing your name for credit solicitations. Paid subscription monitoring is also available through Experian and TransUnion as well as numerous others: LifeLock, Fast3 Credit Services, Privacy Guard, Identity Guard, and My FICO – just to name a few.

Register your phone number with the Federal Trade Commission National Do Not Call Registry by calling toll free, 1-888-382-1222, or visit, www.donotcall.gov. Not only will this reduce unwanted phone calls but you will know after you sign up that any calls you get are potentially, more likely to be fraudulent.

Take advantage of the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry’s free Opt-Out Program by calling toll free, 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688), or visit, www.optoutprescreen.com. Doing so will reduce unwanted mail solicitations and cause potentially fraudulent mail to stand out more.

If your identity has been stolen but not used illegally:

You can take the above steps and optionally; place a 90-day Fraud Alert on your credit with one of the three credit agencies (each agency is required to automatically notify the other two). Why optionally? Even if stolen in the Equifax breach, the chances of your identity being used in the next 90 days are very slim. In fact, most of the Equifax hacking actually occurred more than 90 days ago. The fraud alert can also be a nuisance, making it more difficult to obtain credit.

If your identity has actually been used illegally:

Please call our office and ask for a copy of the Federal Trade Commission guide, What to do if Your Identity is Stolen, or email us and we will forward you the link to the FTC identity theft website, https://www.identitytheft.gov/

A few key items from the comprehensive FTC guide:
• Placing an initial fraud alert
• Ordering your credit reports
• Creating an Identity Theft Report
• Placing an extended fraud alert
• Reviewing your credit reports
• Disputing errors with credit reporting agencies
• Get copies of the documents the identity thief used
• ATM and debit cards
• Checking accounts
• Credit cards

Unfortunately, identity theft is more common than ever. Fortunately, there are numerous preventative measures, safeguards and consumer protections in place now that make the crime far less catastrophic than it once was. The best strategy is to guard your personal information, watch your accounts and credit, and to act quickly if you see a problem.