Take these steps to help guard against identity theft
- Regularly and carefully read your credit card and bank statements. Know your payment due dates. Look for any suspicious or unauthorized charges and immediately report it.
- Know when you bills are supposed to arrive. If a bill does not show up when you expect it, look into it.
- Read and understand the benefits statements from your health insurance plan and make sure the claims paid match the care you received.
- Shred any documents with personal and financial information you no longer need. A cross-cut shredder will cut these documents into confetti-like pieces.
- Check you credit report once a year – it’s free.
- Find a secure place in your home to store your personal and financial records. Do not leave these items in your car.
- Clarify the need when you are asked for your Social Security number. Ask if you can use an alternate identifier.
- Do not give out personal information over the phone, online, or through the mail unless you have initiated the contact.
Your personal information is highly valuable to thieves and they will use whatever it takes to hack into your computer or other electronic devices. Follow these tips to protect yourself:
- Install and regularly update virus and firewall protection.
- Create different user names and passwords for each online account. Store them in a safe place in your home; however, do not store them on your computer. Use passwords with at least eight to 12 characters. Mix up letters, symbols, and numbers. Consider changing out your passwords every 90 days.
- Before submitting personal information such as your credit number or Social Security number, make sure the site is secure: look for https at the beginning of the Web address.
- Scrutinize all emails and cellphone texts and do not reply to or click on any link if you are unsure of the sender.
- Back up your computer files onto a removable disk or external hard drive. If your computer if compromised, you still have access to your files.