Prevent Identity Theft with These 7 Safety Tips
Do you keep close tabs on your finances? You might be surprised how many people are more and more hands-off with their money, especially when it comes to identity theft. According to a study by Experian, approximately 81% of adults in the United States rely solely on their banks and credit card companies to protect them from identity theft.
It’s true that no one is immune to identity theft, but there are certainly steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim. Follow these simple safety tips to protect yourself, your money, and your identity from would-be fraudsters:
Beware Suspicious-Looking Links and Websites
If you receive an unsolicited email or text message with a strange-looking link, don’t click it! This is more than likely a thief trying to steal your identity. Additionally, don’t ever type your username or password on a login screen you’re not familiar with. Just delete the message or close the web browser.
Make the Effort to Use Passwords
According to research from Kaspersky Lab, a whopping 52% of Americans don’t password-protect their mobile devices. While it may seem like a pain to input your password each time you want to unlock your phone, you’re better off having one as it will deter would-be thieves. Make sure to put a password on your computer, laptop, and other electronics as well. While you’re at it, strengthen them by using a combination of letters, numbers, and punctuation.
Don’t Bank on Public Wi-Fi
Refrain from checking your accounts on unsecured, public Wi-Fi. Thieves are much more able to intercept and collect your personal information this way, leaving your finances wide-open. If you need to bank or make transactions on your smartphone or laptop, just make sure you’re using a secure, wireless network.
Guard Your Personal Information
Think of your personal information – your social security number, credit card PIN numbers, and more – like a special club. Only a select few may access it (i.e. you and your banking institution). You are the bouncer who denies anyone who tries to get in. Thieves have no problem posing as a bank or credit card company over the phone if it means stealing your information. Remember, no legitimate organization will ask for your personal information on the phone – not even the IRS. Don’t be afraid to question why someone needs this data. When in doubt, hang up and call your bank!
Properly Dispose of Protected Documents Whenever Necessary
Let’s say you don’t need your old bank statements or credit card receipts. Resist the temptation to throw it in the trash or recycling! Thieves can easily assemble your personal information and assume your identity this way. Instead, invest in a shredder and destroy any old personal data you no longer need.
Keep Tabs on Your Credit Reports
Credit reports will include any suspicious activity that may occur on any of your financial accounts. Check your reports to make sure everything is shipshape. Don’t forget – you can receive your free credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax once every 12 months! Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to get yours.
Take Action After an Incident
Sometimes people who do everything they can to protect their finances still wind up victims of identity theft. If this happens, don’t panic. Central Federal’s CyberScout® Identity Theft Protection can help you right the wrongs. You can call our toll-free number and talk with a fraud specialist 24/7.
In the meantime, familiarize yourself with these common signs that your identity has been compromised:
- You’re not getting household bills in the mail
- You’re getting billed for purchases you didn’t make
- You’re getting turned down for a loan or credit, even with a history of good credit
- Your tax return is rejected