It seems like every time you turn on the TV, listen to the news or open an email…..lurking in the shadows is yet another way to have your identity stolen or become the next victim of a scam. So I’m here to remind you quickly and simply of some ways to protect yourself.
- Protect your Social Security number, credit card number(s), account passwords, ATM pins and other personal information. Only divulge these items to someone you know and trust.
- Limit the amount of information you carry on your person. Only carry the credit card(s), checks, ATM card(s) that you will need. Don’t carry your social security card, only put basic information on your pre-printed checks (no phone number, driver’s license number, social security number, etc.)
- Protect your mail. Remove mail from your box as quickly as possible. Use a blue Postal Service collection box versus your mailbox for outgoing mail that contains sensitive information.
- Keep extra checks, credit card(s), bank statements, social security card, etc., someplace safe and out of sight in your home. When throwing out items that contain sensitive information use a shredder or tear into small pieces.
- Pay attention to account statements and credit card bills. If anything unusual appears, contact your financial institution IMMEDIATELY.
- Obtain and review your credit report annually. Make certain that it is accurate. Question anything that does not make sense.
- NEVER use electronics to transmit sensitive data via public Wi-Fi. This means no banking, paying bills or shopping while connected via public Wi-Fi.
The Federal Trade Commission has a website https://www.identitytheft.gov/ dedicated to walking you through the steps of “what to do” should you find yourself a victim of identity theft.
Finally, there are so many scams around and they change very quickly. To check out the latest scam trends – or – to report a scam if you’re a victim, contact the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/council/bbb-scam-stopper/.