Welcome to The Current, Liberty Power’s blog site
Each week, we’ll post a new set of articles on a variety of topics including energy tips and savings, technology innovations, energy and your business, green advances and even a few Liberty Power updates (it is our company’s blog after all).
David Hernandez, co-founder and CEO of Liberty Power, was on WJR 760AM’s Frack Beckmann show in Detroit to discuss electric choice in Michigan – or the lack thereof.
You can listen to the entire podcast here.
In Michigan, only a few lucky customers can take control of their electricity supply options. The rest are stuck with the utility. Michigan used to be a fully open market where everyone could shop. In 2008, a bill (HB 5524) – that was heavily-backed by the local electric utilities – capped the amount of electricity that could be served by alternative energy suppliers like Liberty Power to just 10%.
The 10% cap was reached in both DTE and Consumers in less than 12 months after the bill was passed. Today, you can go to the utilities’ websites (Consumers Energy; Detroit Edison) and see that there are over 11,000 enrollments “in the queue,” meaning customers on the waiting list, hoping either someone on the cap goes out of business – perhaps moves to a neighboring state where electricity rates are lower – or new legislation is passed. Until then, Michigan law is holding them hostage.
And these 11,000 enrollments on the waiting list are customers that have actually signed legal agreements with an alternative energy supplier and went through the process to get on the wait list. The magnitude of demand for energy choice is Michigan is actually much, much greater.
In a statewide poll in the spring of 2013, 82 percent of Michigan homeowners and businesses should be able to select their electric company, just as they choose their phone and natural gas providers.
There is good reason too. Since 2008, the same year the 10% cap was put in place, electric rates nationwide have risen 2.7% nationally. Rates in Michigan have jumped by more than 26% ─ nearly 10 times the national average.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, Michigan families and job makers who filled the state’s 10% competition cap in 2009 have already saved $350 million.
There have been a number of legislative efforts over the years to increase the cap. The most recent legislation is House Bill 5184, sponsored by Representative Mike Shirkey (R) which would eliminate the cap altogether so everyone can shop.
As a voter, contact your legislators – your local legislator, Governor Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Meekhof, and House Majority Leader, Bolger. Write them, call them, email them and let them know that you want electric choice in Michigan.
Liberty Power is a part of Energy Choice Now, an organization that that has been advocating for electric choice in Michigan for quite some time. If you want to learn, go to their website http://ecnmichigan.com/.
Liberty Power has received reports from customers regarding scams that trick customers into purchasing a gift card or money pack in order to pay a Liberty Power bill. Scammers may also try to trick customers into making an unnecessary bill payment. The scammer will claim the customer’s account is past due and payment must be made immediately to avoid service disconnection.
If someone comes to your door or calls you with these kinds of payment requests, please do not give them any money.
Liberty Power will never request that you purchase a gift card in order to pay your bill or keep your service on, and we never use door-to-door reps for collections.
If you receive a Liberty Power bill, here are your methods of payment: a check sent via US Postal Service, by phone with a Customer Care and/or Collections Specialist using your credit card or check-by-phone, or online at http://libertypowercorp.com/billpay using your credit or debit card. Please call Customer Care at 1-866-769-3799 with any questions Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST.
Please contact Liberty Power immediately at 1-866-769-3799 if you’ve received a call or visit similar to this, and do not provide financial information to the scammer.
“How can I identify a Liberty Power representative?”
Before any service disconnection can take place, Liberty Power is required to send a written notice to any customer in danger of having their service shut off. After the notice has been sent, customers will receive a follow-up phone call from one of our collections account representatives.
There are a few ways you can verify the legitimacy of a call from a Liberty Power collections account representative:
1. It’s always a good idea to check your caller ID. All Liberty Power calls will show up with either our company name or our main phone number: 866-769-3799.
2. Liberty Power does not employ door-to-door reps for collections purposes. If you receive an in-person visit from someone asking for payment for a Liberty Power bill, do not give them any money.
3. Here are four pieces of information only a Liberty Power rep would know about your account. Ask them to verify any two of these four options to ensure you can trust them:
- Your service address
- Your billing address
- The invoice number and dollar amount their call is in reference to
- Your utility account number/utility meter number/ESI (These are all the same, but different terms are used in different states)
4. Ask the phone rep to send you a test email. All Liberty Power email addresses are first initial, last firstname.lastname@example.org. Ex.: email@example.com
5. If one of our representatives calls and is unable to reach you, they will leave you a detailed voicemail with their name and a call back number including their direct extension.
Our customers are our number one priority. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. We are investigating this scam and doing everything we can to stop it.
Liberty Power has been a Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited Business since 2007. We have an A+ rating. This means we are dedicated to resolving all consumer complaints. We are 100% committed to making every experience your best experience.
Liberty Power co-founder and CEO David Hernandez addressed attendees of the 2014 National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) annual conference Awards Banquet on Wednesday, November 5 in Orlando, Florida. Liberty Power was co-chair with The Walt Disney Company of the annual gathering of supplier diversity professionals, minority-owned businesses, and Fortune 500 corporations. David challenged the audience to re-imagine supplier diversity in terms of supplier development. He said that ensuring companies better reflect the changing demographics of the population is the only way for the United States to take on the challenges of the global economy in the 21st century. Below is the full text of his speech.
One of the last conversations I had with Joset was about “who moved my cheese”?
She said, “I don’t care who moved my cheese, I want to know what I have to do to get it back!”
That’s at the heart of my remarks here tonight.
The reason is that in 2014 the world changed dramatically, and I will elaborate on that in a minute. And we in this room must change with it or we risk becoming irrelevant.
First, I want to take you back to 1872, which was a momentous occasion for the US economy. That was the year that we as a country overtook the UK as the world’s largest economy.
This year, 2014 is a momentous occasion for China, because it just became the world’s largest economy, ending the 142 year reign the US had previously enjoyed.
1972 was also a significant year. In 1972, one hundred years after the US became the world’s largest economy – the same year the NMSDC was founded – my family received an exit visa to leave Cuba, ultimately allowing us to come to this country from a land that had no opportunity, no freedoms, no liberty.
My personal experience would eventually inspire the name for the company I co-founded in 2001. As a proud American I believe in the power of liberty, and that is why I named my company Liberty Power.
My family bought into the U.S. brand – which is “the land of opportunity” Back then, my parents could have never imagined a world where the United States wasn’t the world’s number one economic super power. And yet, here we stand today – #2, behind China with other countries like Brazil and India breathing down our neck.
The cheese has moved and so we must move.
Are you comfortable with the US being #2? What about #3, #4, or even #6? – which, by the way, is where UK ranks today.
Do you think in 1872 when the UK became the world’s second largest economy that they thought they would continue to slide?
What would it feel like if the US went from #1 to #2 to #6? Not very good, I imagine.
We must change, we must adapt. If you don’t like change, just imagine what the alternative looks like?
In the 1960s, Avis – then the second largest car rental company behind Hertz – embraced their second position with a new tagline.
“When you are only number two, you try harder. Or else.”
Today, Avis – a Liberty Power customer, by the way – leads their industry in terms of customer satisfaction. They tried harder and we must try harder.
OWN THE MOMENT
Simon Bailey also talked about how we must “own the moment”.
He challenged us and tonight I will issue my own set of pleas or calls to action.
Tonight I urge the government to stay in within its role which is to put the right rules in place so that the game is played fairly and enforce those rules.
I urge Corporate America to advance from Supplier Diversity to Supplier Development. I urge the NMSDC to grow beyond measuring diversity spend to measuring impact. And I urge MBEs to invest in their people and processes because that, in large part, is how Liberty Power has become successful.
The Government, Corporate America, the NMSDC, and MBEs must collaborate in order to better understand how our needs have changed and what we must do to address these changing needs. The things that got us here, that made us successful, will not be same things that get us to where we want to be.
Like all of you, I love the United States. I’m passionate about the future of the United States – our children’s future. I’m passionate about Free Enterprise. That’s why I’m here standing before you today. That’s why I am so supportive of this organization.
Some people say it’s the government who creates jobs. I disagree.
It’s you who create jobs.
That’s why I recently teamed up with Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot and the organization he founded – Job Creators Network. Its goal is to bring about public policy to ensure government stays true to its role which I described earlier.
Again, it’s private enterprise, and small businesses in particular that drive growth.
According to the SBA, small businesses make up nearly half of private-sector employment and create nearly two-thirds of new private sector jobs.
While the mission of the NMSDC – for the last four decades – is to “advance business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connect them to corporate members”, make no mistake, the NMSDC’s aim is job growth and wealth creation.
Promoting supply chain diversity is simply a means to that end. After all, minorities are becoming the majority.
It’s inevitable, given that more than half of today’s U.S. children under the age of five are minorities. Yet, economic disparities still remain.
Recall, I mentioned earlier that the NMSDC was founded in 1972. Both the NMSDC and Corporate America have come a long way since then.
Many Fortune 500 companies have promoted diversity in hiring and their supply chain. We acknowledge and celebrate these success stories, but the evolution must continue.
It is time for corporations, including Liberty Power, to “own the moment” and change.
Here’s an example of why: of the list of Fortune 500 companies in 1972 – the year this organization was formed, only 18 companies are still on the list.
To the audience here today – whether you are a minority business owner, a supplier diversity professional, or a leader at a Fortune 500 company…
Are you ready to take supplier diversity to a whole new level?
It’s what many refer to as “Supplier Development.”
It means entering into a trusted, long-lasting, mutually-beneficial relationship with a minority supplier.
As Len Greenhalgh says in his book, Minority Business Success, an investment in developing the suppliers in the corporate value chain is an investment in their own competitive advantage.
MBEs bring measurable, bottom-line value to their customers. They often accomplish this because the vast majority of MBEs have an entrepreneurial spirit. They are creative, innovative, nimble.
MBEs have the ability to develop disruptive technologies or business models – because they must, out of necessity. The only way that a minority business can compete is by being better than the competition.
Supplier diversity programs provide opportunities for MBEs. Opportunities to bid, to prove their value. The issue is that too often, the opportunities stop there.
A single transaction or a supply contract and we “check the box”. We measure success of supplier diversity by the growing the spend with MBEs. But that is a difference of degree.
What I’m talking about is a difference of kind.
Under a Supplier Development approach, the relationship doesn’t stop with an exchange of goods or services, it starts there. A contract is the jumping off point for what should be a much deeper relationship.
Supplier diversity is about finding qualified suppliers to fill an order.
Can you respond to this RFP?
Can you compete on price in a reverse auction?
Sure, Liberty Power can do that. We’ve proven it time and again.
But we’ve evolved from a simple transaction to much more – thanks to customer who took a supplier development approach with us. Supplier development is about finding a partner to develop innovative solutions to solve difficult challenges.
Supplier Diversity is about offering a seat at the table.
Supplier Development is about sitting side by side at that table, rolling up our sleeves, and tackling business challenges together.
I want to recognize the unsung heroes in this room tonight.
Supplier Diversity and Supply Chain professionals share one common bond – they are some of the most passionate people I know when it comes to their work and their mission.
I need your support.
I need your voice.
I need you to promote Supplier Development with as much vigor, passion, and commitment as you have when it comes to Supplier Diversity.
It is in large part because of your efforts, the companies you represent, and organizations like the NMSDC that have propelled Supplier Diversity spend from $20 billion in 1990 to well over $100 billion today.
The pitch is easy.
Supplier Development is the best and fastest way of extracting the most possible value from your strategic sourcing partners.
Again, you can accomplish a lot of great things with Supplier Diversity programs, but they have the tendency to leave a lot of un-tapped potential.
And to the MBEs in the audience, I need your help too.
I continually talk about the value you bring to the table – the innovative solutions, the value-creation, the drive to always go the extra mile for the customer. Prove me right.
In closing, I would admonish all of you to own the moment.
As a country, THIS is our moment. Our cheese has moved. We must try harder.
So I ask you:
As voters responsible for our government, as members of the NMSDC, as Corporate America, as Minority Business Enterprises…What are you going to do about it?
Let’s all commit to taking Supplier Diversity to a whole new level called Supplier Development.
Thank you and see you in San Diego.
Liberty Power to Supply Renewable Energy Certificates to National Minority Supplier Development Council Symposium
Liberty Power and Florida Crystals’ donation helps NMSDC Conference and Opportunity Fair “go green”
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – October 29, 2014 – Liberty Power, the nation’s largest independent retail electric supplier, announced today that it will partner with leading domestic sugar producer, Florida Crystals, in its donation of Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) for the 2014 National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Conference and Business Opportunity Fair. This joint donation will match 100 percent of the estimated electricity consumption at the event. This is the second consecutive year the retail energy supply company will donate RECs as part of their involvement in the conference and the first time they have partnered with Florida Crystals.
“It is our pleasure to join forces with Florida Crystals as part of our effort to support the NMSDC’s commitment to sustainability. Donating RECs sourced from Green-E biomass power generated in our shared home state makes this endeavor even more rewarding,” said David Hernandez, co-founder and CEO of Liberty Power. “This effort not only offsets the electricity usage of this year’s conference, it also helps in the reduction of our overall carbon footprint.”
The NMSDC Conference is the organization’s signature event. Recognized as the largest national business opportunity fair of its kind, approximately 6,000 attendees are expected this year. This extensive group of corporate CEOs, procurement executives, government officials and minority business owners from around the world will engage in workshops, leadership training, and networking.
The NMSDC Conference is scheduled to take place Sunday, November 2 through Wednesday, November 5 in Orlando, Florida. The two Florida-based companies will supply enough RECs to match the estimated usage for the four-day event, held at the Orange County Convention Center. The RECs will be generated at the cane sugar company’s Florida-based renewable energy facility. The donation of RECs will offset nearly 760,100 pounds of carbon-dioxide (CO2). According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator, this is equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions associated with consuming over 38,795 gallons of gasoline.
“We’re happy to work together with Liberty Power to green the NMSDC Conference,” said Gustavo Cepero, Vice President of Florida Crystals. “Our company built its renewable energy facility with the goal of reducing our use of fossil fuels. Generating the RECs for an event in our very own state aligns with our mission of contributing to a greener Florida.”
The NMSDC believe that supplier diversity leads to supplier development. By allowing minority-owned businesses to compete on a national scale, those companies are put on a path toward accelerated strategic growth. Liberty Power is a case study in supplier development. In just 13 years, Liberty Power has grown into a nearly billion dollar company that is a strategic energy partner for businesses and homes in 14 states, including 100 of the Fortune 500 companies.
Liberty Power will take on the role of the event’s minority business enterprise (MBE) co-chair alongside The Walt Disney Company, which will serve as the corporate co-chair of the conference. The retail energy supply corporation is also participating as a sponsor; the sponsor list is comprised of more than 50 of the nation’s largest companies.
Liberty Power was first certified by the Southern Florida Minority Development Council and has been a Corporate Plus® member in good standing since 2009.
“We appreciate Liberty Power’s ongoing support of the NMSDC,” said NMSDC President Joset Wright-Lacy. “Their generosity, along with that of Florida Crystals, to help ‘green’ our conference through the donation of RECs plays a huge role in our sustainability efforts.”
About Liberty Power
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Liberty Power is the largest independent retail electric supplier in the United States based on 2014 KEMA rankings of electric retailers. The company is also the first certified, minority-owned supplier with a national footprint, and the largest Hispanic-owned energy company in the United States according to Hispanic Business. Liberty Power provides large and small businesses, government agencies and residential customers with affordable electricity and exceptional customer service.
For more information on Liberty Power, please visit www.libertypowercorp.com
Liberty Power is a registered trademark of Liberty Power Corp. LLC, whose subsidiaries are certified and licensed to provide retail electric service by the PUC / PSC of CA, CT, DC, DE, IL, ME, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TX and VA.
About Florida Crystals
Florida Crystals is a leading domestic sugar producer and North America’s first fully integrated cane sugar company, guiding our sugar from the field to the table. We are America’s first and only producer of certified organic sugar, grown and harvested in the United States, and the first sugar certified CarbonFree® by Carbonfund.org. Our renewable energy facility is the largest of its kind in North America and provides clean energy that powers our sugar operations and tens of thousands of homes, which helps us reduce our use of fossil fuels. www.floridacrystals.com
About National Minority Supplier Development Council
The National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American business enterprises and connects them to corporate members. One of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations, NMSDC was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes.
The NMSDC Network includes a National Office in New York and 24 affiliate councils across the country. There are 1,750 corporate members throughout the network, including most of America’s largest publicly-owned, privately-owned and foreign-owned NMSDC companies, as well as universities, hospitals and other buying institutions. The regional councils certify and match nearly 13,000 minority-owned businesses with member corporations that want to purchase their products, services and solutions. www.NMSDC.org
Liberty Power to Supply Renewable Energy Certificates to 35th Annual United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Convention
Liberty Power donation helps USHCC Annual Convention “go green” for second consecutive year
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – September 19, 2014 –Liberty Power,the nation’s largest independent retail electricsupplier, announced that it will donate renewable energy certificates (RECs) to match 100 percent of the estimated electricity usage at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (USHCC) Annual Convention. This is the second year in a row the retail energy supply company will donate RECs as part of their sponsorship of the event.
The USHCC Annual Convention will take place at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, from September 21 – 23. Liberty Power will supply enough RECs from United States wind energy facilities to match the estimated consumption for the event’s venue throughout the three-day convention. The donation of RECs will avoid approximately 760,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)emissions from fossil-fueled generation facilities. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of nearly 38,800 gallons of gasoline consumed.
“We are excited to help propel forward the green energy movement again this year by offsetting the consumption of the USHCC’s Annual Convention,” said David Hernandez, co-founder & CEO of Liberty Power. “We are delighted the USHCC supports our ongoing commitment to sustainability.”
This year, the USHCC Convention will celebrate its 35th anniversary. With their reputation as the largest assembly of Hispanic business leaders in the United States, the Convention attracts business associations, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, chamber leaders and members, Hispanic business enterprises (HBE’s), and policymakers from across the country. This occasion provides ample opportunity to establish business partnerships and carve out new business opportunities.
“The USHCC is thrilled to have Liberty Power’s support for green energy at our National Convention once again, and we are proud to have their unwavering commitment as a partner of our association,” said USHCC President & CEO Javier Palomarez. “Liberty Power is dedicated to their customers and their community, and has demonstrated that a company can, in fact, do smart business and advance the common good at the same time. We thank them for their contributions.”
About Liberty Power
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Liberty Power is the largest completely independent, privately-held retail electric supplier in the United States based on 2014 KEMA rankings of electric retailers. The company is also the first minority-owned supplier with a national footprint, and the largest Hispanic-owned energy company in the United States according to Hispanic Business. Liberty Power provides large and small businesses, government agencies and residential customers with affordable electricity and exceptional customer service.
For more information on Liberty Power, please visit www.libertypowercorp.com
Liberty Power is a registered trademark of Liberty Power Corp. LLC, whose subsidiaries are certified and licensed to provide retail electric service by the PUC / PSC of CA, CT, DC, DE, IL, ME, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, TX and VA.
About the USHCC
Founded in 1979, the USHCC actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and represents the interests of over 3 million Hispanic owned businesses across the United States that contribute in excess of $465 billion to the American economy each year. It also serves as the umbrella organization for more than 200 local Hispanic chambers and business associations in the United States and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit www.USHCC.com
David Hernandez gives keynote address on how to be a successful entrepreneur
Liberty Power’s CEO David Hernandez shared his own proven building blocks for success at the 2014 Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge (FELC). As a successful entrepreneur and member of the Job Creators Network, David presented his keynote address to the students participating in FELC held this summer at his alma mater, Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida.
In addition to providing advice and mentorship about entrepreneurship to the students, David addressed some of the challenges associated with starting a business in today’s economy, such as regulations.
“One of my highlights of my FELC experience was listening to David Hernandez,” one student from Florida said. “He taught me that humility is something not a lot people have, but it is a key trait to become a great leader.”
David and the Liberty Power senior leadership team believe so strongly in the strength of humility that it is a fundamental part of the company’s culture. Team members at all levels are encouraged see that everyone has something to teach, and that decisions must be based solely on what is best for the company and its customers, not individual egos.
FELC is a program for high school students and teaches the core principles of our free enterprise system. Over 7,300 students have graduated from the FELC Program. David spoke to 100 students who traveled from Florida, New Jersey, Utah, Connecticut and El Salvador. Many attendees were first generation Americans, much like Hernandez himself, who was born in Cuba.
The five day program, which occurs three times every summer, offers a unique hands-on approach to equip students with the economic knowledge and tools to begin their own business. During the program the students experience the process of building a business from scratch as well as hearing from business leaders in the community.
For more information about this program please visit www.felcexperience.org.
To learn more about Job Creators Network please visit www.jobcreatorsnetwork.com.
Watch some of the educational videos for entrepreneurs on www.informationstation.org.
You’ll never guess why electricity rates will jump this summer. Hint: the Polar Vortex.
Last winter’s brutal polar vortex brought such cold temperatures that many New Yorkers saw their heating bills nearly double. Months later, the lingering after-effects of the polar vortex continue to keep electricity prices high.
Weather forecasters predict that New York State will experience sweltering temperatures in July and August 2014. As it gets hotter, air conditioners and refrigerators will have to work harder to keep things cool.
What does this mean for New York residents? Electricity prices are about to spike once again.
“New Yorkers, still reeling from home heating costs this winter, can expect to continue to get hammered by high bills this summer,” said Beth Finkel, New York State Director for AARP, a nonprofit social advocacy organization.
Why would the polar vortex impact summer energy rates? A recent study from the AARP explored the long-term impacts of extreme winter weather. It found that electricity generators had to tap into natural gas reserves during the polar vortex. The nation’s once abundant natural gas surplus was depleted. Now that reserves are low, natural gas prices are rising and the market has become increasingly volatile, which will lead to a summer rate spike.
The Energy Research Council issued a study mirroring the findings of the AARP report.
The AARP’s Finkel warns that throwing “looming rate hikes into the equation and household budgets for many simply don’t stand a chance against unprecedented utility bills. Something’s got to be done.”
In New York, the utility’s standard electricity supply rates are based on market conditions—and those prices fluctuate every 15 minutes.
AARP says that New Yorkers pay the highest electric rates in the United States. Since utility companies and the Public Service Commission handle how much to charge for electricity, New Yorkers have little control.
But where there are concerns, there are solutions. Rather than deal with the fluctuating prices offered by the utility companies, New Yorkers can opt for a fixed-rate plan from an electricity supplier such as Liberty Power. These fixed-rate plans can provide New York residents peace of mind. Making the switch allows households and businesses to worry less about unpredictable costs.
Liberty Power offers people fixed-rate electricity plans for up to 60 months. Customers are locked into a rate and avoid sudden spikes from extreme weather. That allows a household to budget more easily because the per kWh rate paid remains the same month-to-month, despite a polar vortex or summer heat wave.
For further information on available fixed-rate plans contact 1-866-POWER-99 to speak to a Liberty Power representative or click here for a price quote.
Liberty Power includes identity theft protection at no extra cost with your energy plan
Not only do we protect your energy costs –– we protect you.
Protecting yourself from identity theft is not easy in a world filled with technology snoops and credit card thieves. And it’s only getting worse.
Last year, 13.1 million people were victims of identity theft, according to the 2014 Identity Fraud Report by Javelin Strategy and Research. The AARP says senior citizens alone lose $2.9 billion each year to fraud and identity theft. And the Federal Trade Commission reported that identity theft was the number one complaint last year.
“Identity theft, the fastest growing crime here, is as easy as one, two, three,” says George Piro, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Miami. “One, criminals steal someone’s name and Social Security number; two, they use that identity to file a fraudulent tax return on line; and three, they collect the refund check. Repeat thousands of times.”
You might think that computer hackers are the biggest threat. But a study found that more than half of all cases of ID theft are a result of losing your wallet or purse.
So, these tips should become your newest habits:
1. Unpack your wallet
Your Social Security card is an invitation to steal your identity. So, don’t put it into your wallet.
Same goes for your PINs, passwords, extra keys, blank checks, account numbers, even medical insurance cards. The AARP suggests taking out these sensitive items –– and making photocopies of what’s left.
2. Keep your private info private
Just because a company or business wants your Social Security number doesn’t mean you have to give it to them.
The IRS suggests you ask a company why it needs your Social Security number and how it will be used before sharing it. You should also add firewalls and antivirus software to personal computers and avoid sharing personal information over the phone, Internet, or through the mail.
3. Keep an eye on your credit report
Keep an eye on your credit card bills in search of strange charges. And the IRS recommends you check your credit report every 12 months. It’s free. Be sure to check everything –– any open or closed accounts, along with any items that could lower your credit score. If these items are incorrect or if there are any suspicious credit inquiries, it might be a sign of identity theft.
4. File your taxes early
The number one tax scam in the IRS “Dirty Dozen” Report this year was tax fraud through identity theft. All an identity thief has to do is get a name and Social Security number to file for taxes. The crooks file for taxes and claim a refund before their victims do. The victims not only risk losing their refund but are at risk of significant penalties and interest charges on what they owe.
5. Don’t become cyber-bait
Phishing refers to a variety of online scams that lead people to share their personal and financial information and account logins. Fraudulent emails asking for personal information are the most known form of this scam, but ConsumerReports.org says fake websites and text messages are used too.
ConsumerReports.org lists ways to avoid getting hooked by phishy emails:
- If the the grammar and spelling is unusually bad it may be a scam
- Hover over the links to see if they’re real
- Type the URLs into your browser, instead of clicking any links
Invest in a shredder. All those outdated bills, old statements and even junk mail can include sensitive personal information. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a dumpster diver.
7. Get identity theft insurance
If you’re someone who does lots of online banking or shopping, or if you don’t have the time to monitor your credit information on your own, then you should get identity theft insurance.
How Liberty Power can help
At Liberty Power, we are all about peace of mind. Whether it’s securing your energy costs with our fixed rate plans or insuring your safe identity at no extra cost to you. With our energy services, you’ll receive the same identity theft protection you’d get from an expensive service like LifeLock, valued at $25 per month –– that’s a $300 dollar savings a year –– at no extra cost.
That’s the first and simplest way to protect yourself. Sign up now
Identity Theft Solutions:
- 24/7/365 monitoring awareness that significantly mitigates
- Guaranteed ID profile restoration, if event occurs
- $1 million theft insurance policy
- 24/7 Lost Wallet Assistance
- Award winning computer software protection
Cyber hackers, data breaches, phishing scams. Online data piracy seems to be everywhere. But it’s not the most common form of identity theft. It’s losing your wallet.
An insurance industry study found that stolen wallets account for nearly three quarters of identity fraud cases in 2011.
If you’re not protecting yourself, here’s how to get started.