Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. If identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance.

Identity thieves obtain personal information through a variety of techniques: they rummage through your garbage, the trash of businesses, or public dumps. They may work (or pretend to work) for legitimate companies, medical offices, clinics, pharmacies, or government agencies, or convince you to reveal personal information. Some thieves pretend to represent an institution you trust, and try to trick you into revealing personal information by email or phone.

Tips in protecting your identity:

Lock your financial records and documents in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work. Keep your information secure from visitors or workers who come into your home.

When you go out, limit what you take. Take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Do not carry your Social Security card. Make a copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last four digits on the copy. Carry the copy with you, unless you are going to use your card at the doctor’s office.

Shred documents that you no longer need, such as receipts, credit offers, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired credit cards, and similar documents. Should you need to retain receipts, statements and other documents, be sure to store them in a safe location.

Don’t share your health plan information with anyone who offers free health services or products. Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out.

Take outgoing mail to the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.

Do not give your bank account number, debit card number, credit card number, social security number, date of birth or other personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the phone call.

Do not send your bank account numbers, debit or credit card numbers or other personal information though email, as it is usually not secure.

Do not text message account numbers, Social Security number, date of birth or other personal information.

Do not store user IDs and/or passwords on your mobile device.

Password protect your mobile device so it can’t be accessed unless the password is entered.

Be wary of suspicious emails. Never open attachments, click on links or respond to emails from unknown or suspicious individuals/companies. Some scammers may offer a reward to complete a survey or claim your account and/or credit/debit card is locked. These techniques are an attempt to obtain confidential information.

Be wary of texting, calling and voicemails from persons or entities you are not expecting, especially requests for personal information or immediate action.

Make sure your internet purchase is secured with encryption to protect your account information. This can be achieved by looking in the address bar of the website and locate https://.  The “s” indicates that the web page uses encryption and is “secure”. You can also look in the lower right corner of your web browser and look for the ‘lock’ symbol.

It is a good idea to keep certain personal information private when utilizing ‘social media’. Avoid sharing personal details that are used by financial institutions to identify you, such as your birth date, home address, schools attended, mother’s maiden name and pet’s name. Identity thieves may use this type of information to help gain access to an account since they are common answers to security questions.

If your wallet, Social Security card, or other personal, financial or account information are lost or stolen, contact the credit reporting companies and place a fraud alert on your credit file. Check your bank and other account statements for unusual activity.

Order a free copy of your credit report periodically to monitor your accounts. You have a right to one free copy of your credit report from each of the national credit reporting companies every year. If you stagger your orders, you can get a credit report every four months. (www.annualcreditreport.com)

 

12 Tips to Secure Your Mobile Device as recommended by the American Bankers Association:

 

  • Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
  • Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
  • Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
  • Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
  • Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
  • Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
  • Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  • Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
  • Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  • Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
  • Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren't very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. 

 

Safeguarding Identity After Death
If you or someone you know has recently lost a loved one, please use
this checklist as a guide to secure and protect their information.


Obtain 10-15 original copies of the certified death certificate.

Contact all three credit reporting agencies (contact provided below).

Contact any/all credit card companies of the decedent.

Contact all banks holding accounts in the decedent’s name.

  • checking, savings, CD’s, safe deposit box, loans and debit cards.

Contact the Social Security Administration (contact provided below).

Contact insurance companies – auto, health, life, house, etc.

Contact Veteran’s Administration, if applicable (contact provided below).

Contact The Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel the decedent’s driver’s license.

Contact NPIC (National Passport Information Center) by mailing the passport, death certificate, and letter requesting cancellation of passport (contact provided below).

Contact any agency or associations the decedent may have been involved in or held a license – bar association, medical license, cosmetician, realtor, etc.

Contact Voters Registrar to remove from voter list.

Contact any memberships – public library, fitness club, Netflix, Sam’s, Costco, eBay, Paypal, AOL, magazine subscriptions. etc.

Contact social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

 

EQUIFAX                             
(800)685-1111
PO Box 105139                 
Atlanta GA 30348
equifax

EXPERIAN                           
(888)397-3742
PO Box 9701                      
Allen TX  75013
experian

Social Security Administration 
(800)772-1213
social security

Department of Veteran Affairs
(800)8271000
veterans affairs

Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (850)617-2000
dmv florida   
TransUnion                       
(800)916-8800
PO Box 6790      
Fullerton CA 92834
transunion

NPIC      (877)487-2778
national passport center
(National Passport Information Center) 1111 19th St NW, Suite 500,
Washington, DC 20036          

 

 

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