What is in a name?

Doug Horn

Have you ever given thought to the impact a name may create? Or, the disarray that can also be produced by the misuse of someone’s name? For most of us, I would imagine not a lot of thought has occurred about our name, since it was provided by our parents. And, only a few most likely have contemplated changing the name given at birth. Our name is something most of us just live with.

While it does not seem as common today as it once was, there are those who continue a family practice of naming a son after their father, who may have also been named after his father. Clearly a legacy is created and pride can occur among those family members who share the name. However, is there a downside to this tradition?

Today, with so many decisions being made by computers with enough electronic information to sink the Navy and not by a credit manager sitting behind a desk, it may be more important to have clarity around a name. Now I am not suggesting parents follow in the steps Johnny Cash sang about in his song A Boy Named Sue. But, the names given to children can occasionally have unintended consequences.

Those seeking credit and share their father’s name and perhaps their grandfather’s as well may be impacted by the existing credit on their parent’s account or they may accidently impact the credit of their parents. Similar or same names living in the same household can easily confuse even the smartest computer. And once they are confused, pray for patience as it may take a while to correct the records.

While most of us are not named after our parents, having a person with a similar name within the community is not unlikely. For those who have a first, middle, and last name yet elect to use only the first or middle and the last may open themselves up to potential errors on their credit reports. While I clearly use my middle and last name among friends and business associates, I always sign agreements and financial documents using all three of my names. By doing so, I have reduced the odds of someone else impacting my credit or vice versa.

By avoiding potential misinformation from getting into credit records or other sensitive areas can be beneficial. The time spent correcting the records is avoided and potential purchases such as a car or home are not derailed by bad information. Commercials currently airing remind the public that the information in credit files can also impact assigned interest rates. But, protecting what goes in the file is only part of the job.

Identity theft can be more harmful than just bad information in the files. Thieves can steal an identity in a variety of ways. First is the trash we throw out. The items we discard tell a tremendous amount about the household including account numbers, banking relationships, as well as other personal information. A household shredder can help solve this leak of information quickly and inexpensively.

Another way to steal information is called ‘skimming’. This is where an additional device is added to an ATM machine or other credit devices which read the card’s information at the same time as the merchant’s device. Always question a manager if the card reader has any additional equipment attached that might read your card as well. If they are not ‘skimming’, they might be ‘phishing’. In today’s world of electronic communication, thieves have become very adept at creating emails or instant messages that appear legitimate but have the sole purpose of obtaining personal information. Never respond to an email seeking verification or confirmation of access codes or password information.

Thieves also misdirect banking information by changing an address. However, most financial firms now confirm an address change by sending a notice to both the old and the new addresses. But if all of this fails, resorting back to stealing a purse or wallet can still yield a wealth of information. Thus, ladies should always keep their purse inside a desk drawer when working to avoid easy access to unauthorized individuals and never have them left visible in a vehicle.

Names are not just for Santa’s list and caution should surround your personal information.

For assistance with insurance, estate planning, and investment management, contact me at Quality Financial Concepts or one of the other Certified Financial Planners in our area. To continue a personal quest for education, you can also view our learning center on our website, www.goqfc.com. There you will find articles on a variety of topics, on-line seminars, calculators, as well as a host of other free tools.

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