September 23, 2015
Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Identity theft – and identity fraud – can create a myriad of issues in your life. Caught early on, you can minimize its negative impact. But undetected, identity theft can lead to difficulties in applying for credit or opening new accounts, even if you have great credit yourself, for months or years.
Here are some tips for keeping your personal information safe:
- When creating passwords, don't use information that easily could be linked to you – like your birth date, Social Security number, phone number, or the names of family and pets. Use a mix of numbers, letters and characters in passwords, too – it makes them harder to guess!
- Change passwords often – it's recommended that you switch your password every 30 days – and use unique passwords on each system you access.
- If you're providing financial information or placing an order online, be sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with "https://" and the "closed padlock" in the lower right-hand corner of your browser.
- Install, use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer.
- E-mail isn't secure. Never e-mail personal financial information such as account numbers or your Social Security number.
- Carefully review credit card and bank statements to ensure that all activity on your accounts is accurate.
- If a bill you regularly receive doesn't arrive, follow up with the company and find out why.
- Use a paper shredder. Shred any documents with personal information like account numbers, your Social Security number – even your address. It will help deter "dumpster diver" identity thieves from obtaining any of your personal information.
- Never carry your Social Security card or number in your wallet or purse.
- Avoid writing your Social Security number, telephone or driver's license number on checks.
- Beware of scams – always be on the defensive with your personal information. Never give out personal information to telemarketers or respond to emails from someone claiming to represent your bank, credit card issuer, a government agency, a charity, or other organization. If you suspect a request is not authentic, contact the company directly to verify the information request.