Because no one has a right to your personal information.
Did you know that in 2018, 14.4 million adults and over 1 million children in America were victims of identity theft or fraud? That is 1 out of every 15 people; chances are you know someone who has been a victim. According to the Department of Justice, “Identity theft or identity fraud is when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves deception for economic gain.” With all of the new ideas these criminals keep coming up with, it is our job to make it harder for them to get to our personal information and we need to make some small changes in order to protect ourselves!
There are different ways that identity thefts occur such as mail identity theft, where criminals steal your mail to review your financial account information, as well as change your address on statements. Another way is through debit card or credit card fraud, where criminals obtain the credit card number, pin, and security code to make purchases without needing the actual card. There is also a new account takeover, where criminals create new accounts using your personal information in hopes to use your already established relationship with credit card lenders to increase limits. Visit Experian’s website for a complete list of identity theft and fraud
There are ways to help keep your identity safe and make it harder for thieves to steal your identity.
Check out these 6 tips!
Use strong passwords: Passwords that are 10 characters, a combination of upper and lowercase letters, while incorporating numbers and symbols will take a hacker about 3 years to decipher compared to the 8-character passwords that take about 31 minutes. Make your password easy for you to remember, but hard for someone else. Try using a quote, or a song lyric. You can also use just the first letter of each word to make the password secure. Don’t use family names or dates of births, those are the first things hackers will try.
Credit report: Review your credit report to verify all the information is correct. Any information that is incorrect can and should be disputed. Once you’ve done that freeze your credit report. Freezing and unfreezing your credit is free and a great way to prevent new credit from being obtained. Freezing your minor child’s social security number is a way to prevent them from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Social security number: Unless you are applying for a loan or other types of credit you shouldn’t have to give out your full social security number. Especially over the phone or online. Most times for verification purposes you will be asked for the last four digits. The company asking for this should already have the full number. Also, avoid carrying your card on you. Memorize it and keep it stored in a safe location.
Mailboxes: Have you stopped receiving household bills in the mail, that could be a warning sign that you are a victim of identity theft. Getting your credit card or bank statement online means that your personal information isn’t sitting in your mailbox all day while you are at work. Also, those credit card pre-approval offers are a favorite of criminals. You can opt-out of receiving them by calling 888-5opt-out or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.
Online banking: Monitoring your accounts online is one of the fastest ways to prevent identity theft and fraud. Reviewing your accounts for accurate information and transactions. If you notice any fraudulent activity report it to the financial institution. Using bill pay is another great way to protect your personal information. When you send a check from your account it has a lot of your personal information on it. However, when you send a check thru bill pay, your personal information is kept confidential and the bill pay account information is shown on the check.
Paper trail: Criminals have been known to garbage pick looking for personal information. Instead of throwing away documents with personal information on them, use a shredder or burn them to keep your information safe.
With the current pandemic underway, preventing identity theft and fraud is now more important than ever before. Individuals are using this crisis to fraudulently gain access to your personal information as well as reaping financial gain in illegal ways. Phone calls are being made requesting donations, websites are being set up fraudulently advertising non-existing products and charities in hopes that they will turn a profit off misleading individuals. As an individual, it is up to us to verify the legitimacy of these websites, senders (if done via email) and charities before giving information or sending money. Visit here for information and some great tips on how to prevent fraud during this uncertain time.
Additionally, NDFCU offers Kasasa Protect, which is a credit monitoring service that works like a bodyguard for your personal and financial data, protecting you from identity theft and other fraudulent activity. Your full line of defense includes credit monitoring, lost wallet protection, and more. Visit our website to learn more and then contact us at (800) 326-6190 to get Kasasa Protect today!
Unfortunately, we live in an era that requires us to be diligent with our personal information. Taking the necessary precautions to prevent identity theft and fraud from happening to us should be a daily occurrence. If you need help with setting up secure passwords, using bill pay or reviewing your credit report contact me at Creynolds@newdimensionsfcu.com or (207) 872-2771.