Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

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Tips for Protecting Yourself Online

  • Don't open files, click on links or download programs sent by strangers
  • If you did not initiate any kind of log-in request with a website and you receive an email directing you to a website to log-in to get help, delete the email and do not click on any links. This is called phishing - a scam where phishers mimic emails and websites to capture a victim's log-in credentials. Read more about phishing.
  • Beware of impersonators contacting you. If there is any doubt, contact the person or company through their own website or phone number
  • Don't over-share on social networking sites
  • Keep up-to-date on anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software for your computer
  • Consider encryption software or services
  • Get creative with passwords and keep them private

Tips for Protecting Your Credit Cards

  • Shield your credit cards from view
  • Total your receipts before signing
  • Do not leave empty spaces on your receipts where additional amounts can be added
  • Never sign blank receipts
  • Keep copies of your receipts and compare them with your statements each month

Tips for Protecting Your Bank Accounts

  • Never sign blank checks
  • Do not leave empty spaces on your checks where additional amounts can be added
  • Balance your checkbook monthly
  • Request a credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies annually
  • Routinely change passwords for all credit card and bank accounts
  • Shred or tear up documents with any personal information before discarding
  • Keep a list of your credit cards and bank accounts
  • Keep copies of your credit card statements, bank statements, and canceled checks for at least three years

Common Ways a Thief Can Get Your Information

  • Stealing your wallet or purse
  • Finding personal information in your home
  • Obtaining information from your work
  • Randomly using your Social Security Number
  • Listening to your telephone conversations
  • Shoulder surfing
  • Dumpster diving
  • Stealing your mail
  • Fraudulently obtaining your credit report
  • Calling or sending mail / emails with bogus promises
  • Cyber-attacks on banks or businesses you patronize

How a Thief Can Use Your Information

  • Obtain new credit cards in your name
  • Forge checks and debit cards and drain your account
  • Open new bank accounts in your name
  • Obtain loans or mortgages in your name
  • Receive utilities in your name
  • File a bankruptcy case in your name
  • Commit crimes in your name