Take Steps to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime that can be ruinous to your finances & credit score.  Even if you catch a breach quickly, resolving the damage may be costly and time-consuming.  Fortunately, you can take steps to protect yourself and sensitive information.  Here are a few ways to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.

Shred your documents – DO NOT toss bank statements and credit card receipts in the trash.  Dispose of them using a cross-cut shredder or shredding service.

Strengthen your Passwords – Create different passwords for each account & change them frequently.  It is recommended you use a random combination of letters, numbers & special characters.

Check your Credit Reports – You are entitled to one free credit card report every year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.  You are able to request one report every four months and review it for suspicious or incorrect information.

Guard your Social Security Number – Never share your Social Security Number – unless it is absolutely necessary.

Be Smart about Social Media – Eliminate personal details, such as your birthday or address from your profiles.  Privacy settings should be strengthened  & always be cautious about whom you accept as a connection.

Secure your Phone – Lock your device with a password, turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it.  Be cautious when downloading apps. Free versions of popular apps may contain malware.

Know the Signs of Phishing –  Let’s define Phishing:  it is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. …Phishing emails may contain links to websites that are infected with malware. So watch out for emails, links or unsolicited phone calls, asking for your personal information.

Monitor your financial statements – Suspicious activity on any financial statements, bank statements or credit card statements needs to be reported immediately.

Keep your mail safe – Thieves swiping your mail is one of the easiest ways for your identity to be stolen.  Consider using a locked mailbox or PO box especially when out of town.

You must be proactive to protect your personal information.