Identity Theft Prevention Tips

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Javelin Strategy & Research

"2017 was a runaway year for fraudsters, and with the amount of valid information they have on consumers, their attacks are just getting more complex."

Al Pascual, Senior Vice President

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, an estimated 16.7 million consumers were hit with some kind of identity theft last year, up from 15.4 million the year before. With these numbers on the rise, it is imperative that people learn to protect themselves, and there are a number of simple, straightforward things we can all do to guard our ID.

Be cautious when sharing your private information. Do not reveal personal information over the phone or internet, unless you initiate the contact or verify the source. In fact, avoid giving out your Social Security number altogether; ask if you can use another type of identification.

Keep important documents safe. Store financial records, birth certificates, social security cards and other important documents in a secure location. Take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can and ask the post office to put it on hold when you are away from home for several days. You can even take this a step further and remove yourself from promotional lists. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-567-8688 to opt out of receiving junk mail and pre-approved credit card offers. This is a free service.

Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender. Review your account statements and watch for unauthorized transactions.

Stamp personal documents. If a document needs to be discarded, make sure you use a Guard Your ID Stamp to cover any personal information. Shredding is also an option, however shredded paper is difficult to recycle and should be kept to a minimum.

Choose strong passwords. Never pick obvious passwords like “password, '123456’ or even your date of birth. The strongest passwords contain letters, numbers and symbols, and if possible, avoid writing them down. It is a good idea to use a different password for every account you access online. This way, if your password for one account is compromised, it won’t put your others at risk.

Make sure online purchases are secure. Before entering payment details online, make sure that there is padlock symbol on your internet browser. The web address should also being with 'https://'. The 's' stands for 'secure'. When making a purchase in a store, always shield the keypad when you are typing in your pin.

Be wary on social networking sites. Use privacy settings to keep strangers from seeing your personal information, and limit who you let into your network. Do not post any vacation plans or family photos while you are away.

Monitor your credit. Cancel any credit cards that you aren’t using and take advantage of free credit reports several times throughout the year. Periodically request a credit report for your child. If your child is under 18, they typically should not have a credit file; if they do, it may be because someone used their identity to open accounts.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, visit identitytheft.gov to create a personalized recovery plan. The key to protecting your identity is to be attentive, not afraid; and these simple actions can go a long way toward keeping you, and those you love, safe.

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