Tips for Protecting Your Identity
Adopting a few precautionary measures can help you protect yourself and your business from identity theft:
- Keep all financial and personal information in a secure place.
- Shred financial and personal documents that contain sensitive information; do not simply put them in the trash.
- Protect your Social Security Number; do not carry it on your person and do not write it on checks.
- Protect your computer and mobile devices with updated security software, and always use a password.
- Create a variety of passwords. That way, if a thief does steal your password, they will not be able to use it on another site.
- Never use an obvious password such as birth date, mother’s maiden name or last four digits of your Social Security Number.
- Check your credit card and financial statements regularly for unauthorized transactions, and periodically review your credit reports.
- Watch what you share. Do not divulge personal financial information in response to unsolicited phone calls, emails or text messages, even if they seem official. Financial institutions will never ask their customers for personal or account information.
- Do not respond to emails that warn of dire consequences if you do not immediately take action; contact the company to verify the email using a phone number or website you know to be genuine.
- Never click on links in unsolicited emails or text messages. Clicking on a link could give a criminal access to your personal information.
- Do not send personal data over unsecured Wi-Fi networks. When submitting financial information on a website, make sure the Internet address begins with “https” and look for the padlock or key icon at the top or bottom of your browser. This indicates that your information is secure during transmission.
- Proactively set up alerts through your bank or credit issuers to notify you when large transactions take place.
- If you have responded to a suspicious email, contact your bank immediately so they can help protect your account and your identity.
You also should be alert to signs that point to suspicious activity that may indicate you have been a victim of identity theft:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected
- New or unexpected credit card statements
- Sudden denials of credit
- Calls about purchases you did not make
- Unknown charges on financial statements
SCRUTINIZE YOUR CREDIT REPORTS
The law mandates every person may receive one free credit report per twelve months from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion:
Visit AnnualCreditReport to obtain your free credit report. If you notice inaccuracies, contact the reporting agency immediately. The Federal Trade Commission website provides buyer’s guides, tips and resources to help you.
Learn what actions to take if you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft.