5 Important things to do today!
There have been a few occasions in my life that I have left my purse behind at a doctor’s appointment, misplaced my debit card, or left my cell phone at a restaurant. When I realize that my important personal item is missing, I go into panic mode accompanied by shaky hands, a tingly tongue, and even cold sweats! Please say you have misplaced a similar item, too? That would make me feel better about my previous absent-minded episodes. The reason most people freak out when misplacing one of these items is that we have read or heard of horrible identity theft stories in the news or perhaps we personally know someone that has been a victim. Statistics state that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America with a new victim every 19 minutes. Even more startling is the fact that 32% of crimes are committed by relatives*!
Recently, I had the pleasure of leading a free identity theft prevention seminar in the lobby of our Waterville branch. Here are a few takeaways that could help prevent YOU from becoming the next victim:
- DECLUTTER YOUR PURSE AND WALLET – Purses and wallets stuffed with social security cards, credit cards, passports, passwords, PIN numbers, paycheck stubs, and deposit slips are an identity thief’s pot of gold. Only carry the essentials you need! Store all other personal information in a fireproof safe in your home or a safety deposit box at the credit union. This includes your vehicle, too – is there anything in your glove box that you wouldn’t want a thief to find?
- USE STRONG PASSWORDS AND CODES – Never use common or easily figured out passwords such as your child’s or pet’s name. Using your birth date as a password or PIN number is never a good idea either. Instead, use passphrases such as Orange!GutterFox$weater28, which includes symbols as well as upper and lower-case letters and numbers. Make a mental picture of this passphrase to help you remember it – an orange resting in a gutter with a fox wearing a sweater under it. You can even use song lyrics, Bible verses, or lines from a poem. Password managers such as LastPass Families charge a small monthly fee to allow you to store all your passwords digitally so you only have to remember one unique password. For more information on that program, visit www.lastpass.com.
- SHRED SENSITIVE DOCUMENTS – Credit card offers, financial statements, or any document containing sensitive information should never be thrown in your trash as thieves are just waiting to dumpster dive in your trash bags. Use a cross-cut paper shredder to destroy all these documents.
- REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT – Reviewing your credit report annually is free and a great way to see if an identity thief has set up new credit cards or loans in your name. Visit annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free credit report from one of the three credit bureaus. Better yet, get one free report from different credit bureau every four months.
- CONSIDER IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION – At New Dimensions Federal Credit Union, we suggest Kasasa Protect, which offers dark web monitoring, lost wallet protection, 24/7 credit monitoring, full-service identity restoration and more. For more information on Kasasa Protect visit our website at https://newdimensionsfcu.com/kasasa-protect/
I hope you find these tips helpful and encourage you to share these with your family and friends. If you missed the opportunity to register for the recent identity theft seminar and would be interested in attending an upcoming event, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time
*Credit Union National Association, Inc.