© 2006 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
WE HAVE NOT received
our October bank statement, nor has the bank
received any return mail
as of early December. I’m
concerned about identity
theft! What should I do?
LEN, FIRST NOTIFY the
bank in writing that the
statement never arrived. If
you haven’t already done
so, ask them for copies of
cancelled checks and
monthly statement. You
should also close the
account and get a new
AMY CAN TRELL
Notify the three major
credit bureaus (Equifax,
asking them to post
a possible fraud
alert. This warning
will be listed in
your report at no
cost to you. Request
a copy of your credit
report from each
agency, which also
should be provided
at no cost under
Also, contact your
local post office and
see if they are holding the material. If
they can’t locate
the missing envelope, notify the U.S.
office. Their toll-free number is
Fighting back against
■ IRS collections
■ ID warning
THE FEDERAL Junk Fax Prevention Act, which and copies it into state statute, banning junk faxes
was intended to stop unwanted commercial faxes, and giving state residents protection that fills the
sailed through Congress in 2005 and was signed gaps of the federal statute.
into law by the president. The backers applauded Since junk faxes can strip time and resources
the fact that it maintains the “existing business rela- from individuals and businesses alike, other states
tionship” exemption to general restrictions on are now taking a look at California’s action with an
sending commercial faxes. eye toward protecting their own constituents from
AM Y CAN TRELL
What the federal law did was etch into concrete this junk fax waste.
something Congress called the “established business This important information seems to have been
relationship” (EBR). It means that if you have an ignored by those who voted in favor of the federal ver-
existing business relationship with someone, you are sion. However, it didn’t slide by sharp California legis-
considered to have the right to fax them lators and consumer advocates. They fought back!
something based on that relationship. Let’s watch if other states do the same.
Under the law, an EBR can be established by something as simple as an IRS to use collectors
inquiry about business hours and Here’s an interesting warning for folks who don’t
does not require an actual com- pay their income taxes: The IRS is going after the dead-mercial transaction between beats by using collection agencies to recover billions of
the sender and the receiver. dollars of delinquent cash.
But after that federal law The feds are trying to get this program off the
was passed, many states ground as soon as possible, and they started accepting
quickly realized that the bids from collection agencies right after the announce-Junk Fax Act was filled with ment late in 2005. However, the IRS is treading softly
loopholes that essentially about how the debt collectors, who don’t have a good
favored the junk fax reputation with many folks, will operate when they
industry by allowing busi- work for the feds.
nesses to claim a prior rela- IRS officials insist there will be no arm-twisting,
tionship, without requiring midnight calls or other “muscle” involved. The IRS
that they prove it ever existed! In insists the private collectors will have none of the pow-fact, the “Swiss-cheese protection” ers of enforcement that its agents now have, such as the
actually gutted the previous 14- ability to impose tax liens and wage attachments. The
year federal ban on junk faxing by private solution to the public debt will go into effect
giving almost any business you’ve sometime this year. Stay tuned.
ever encountered the right to bombard you with endless junk fax ads. What thieves want
So, the California Legislature The most sought-after tool for white-collar
drafted a new law, which went into criminals is the Social Security number. It’s the key
effect in January. It retrieves the pro- that unlocks most confidential records. Security
tection from the 1991 federal law experts advise that people stop carrying identification bearing their Social Security number, and
David Horowitz is a leading memorize the nine digits instead.
consumer advocate. His “Fight Back!” Some states have passed laws forcing private
commentaries are heard daily on the insurers to remove Social Security numbers from
Jones Radio Network. For stations health-care cards, to reduce the risk of identity theft.
and times, check the radio page at But these laws don’t apply to certain federal agencies
www.fightback.com. and programs and many educational institutions that
require Social Security numbers as identification.
The biggest discloser of the numbers is
Do you have a question for David? Medicare: About 42 million Americans are enrolled,
Just log on to www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
respond to your problem if you follow the instructions printed on his Web site. issue more cards imprinted with Social Security
(Costco members receive a rebate off the normal fee.) Questions and answers numbers than any other agency, except for the
of the greatest interest to Costco members will be used in this column with Social Security Administration itself, helping to
the permission of the contributor and will be posted on www.fightback.com. open the doors to rip-off artists. C