Personal Financial Heartaches – Where To Go To Recover

I am a victim of Identity theft – what do I do now?

  • Your first step is to place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports by calling any one of the three nationwide credi

    t reporting companies.

    • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289Note: you only have to do this once, when you a place a fraud alert through any one of the three credit agencies they will automatically alert all the other credit reporting agencies for you.
  • Your next step is to download the Take Charge guide which is an immediate resource guide for victims of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) developed this guide to help people navigate their way through identity theft. It describes what steps to take, your legal rights, how to handle specific problems you may encounter on the way to clearing your name, and what to watch for in the future.

I can’t find a copy of my taxes – How do I order another copy of my tax records?

If you need a copy of your tax return for either a mortgage application or a student loan than you can save yourself money by ordering a free transcript. You can do this by calling 1-800-829-1040 and following the prompts in the recorded message.

If you are a victim of a federally declared disaster, the IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of tax returns for people who need them to apply for benefits or to file amended returns claiming disaster-related losses. You can call the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline at 866-562-5227 or refer to refer to Topic 107, Tax Relief Disaster Situations at the irs.gov website.

But, if you do find yourself in need of an exact copy, including your W2’s then you should complete Form 4506 (PDF), Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the address listed in the instructions, along with a $57.00 fee for each tax year requested. The check or money order for the fee should be made payable to the “United States Treasury”. Copies are generally available for returns filed in the current and past six years. Copies of jointly filed tax returns may be requested by either spouse and only one signature is required. Allow 60 calendar days to receive your copies.

Social Security Cards

  • How do I replace a lost or stolen social security card?
  • How do I get assistance with a name change because of marriage or divorce?
  • I have a specific question about Social Security, who do I call?

Form SS-5 is an application that can be used to apply for an original social security card, to replace a lost or stolen card or to change or correct information on your social security record. Remember that you are only able to replace your Social Security Card no more than 3 times in a year and/or 10 times in a lifetime. So keep it in a safe place and don’t carry it in your wallet!

You can call 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov for any additional information on specific questions you may have.

How long should I keep records of documents, such as bank statements or paycheck stubs?

The following will give you personal record retention guidelines. It is important to note that computerized record-retention guidelines are the same.

Three Years Six Years Permanently Other
Medical Bills All documents related to Tax Returns Income Tax Returns Pay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
Credit Card Statements Medical Bills (If tax-related) Income Tax Payment Receipts and/or cancelled checks Credit Card Receipts (Keep until verified on your statement)
Expired Insurance Policies Accident Reports and Claims Retirement/Pension Documents Insurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
Utility Records Real Estate Records and Receipts for Improvement CPA Audit Reports Mortgages/Deeds/Leases (Keep 7 years beyond the agreement)
Sales Receipts (or no less than the life of the warranty) Legal Records (Birth, Adoption, marriage, divorce, Wills & Trusts, etc.) Real Estate Records/ Improvement Receipts (Keep 7 years beyond the sale of Property
Wage Garnishments Important Correspondence Stock and Bond Records (Keep for 7 years beyond selling)
Other Tax-Related Bills Investment Trade Confirmations Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (Keep for 4 years after the tax life of the asset)

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