Theft is a scary thing to think about, especially when your identity and hard earned money can be on the line. Personal identity is one of the most precious things we own and it carries much more weight than one would expect. Protecting your identity can be difficult, especially when it’s something used every day in every situation.
Consumer Reports recommends consumers get serious, not scared. IdentityForce found that 6.64% of consumers became victims of identity fraud in 2017. There are many resources available and steps to be taken to fight fraud that makes it easy to get out in front of potential hackers.
Try these things when protecting personal identity:
- Find a safe, private location to store Social Security Cards, all financial documents, unused credit or debit cards. Fire-proof safes with a unique entry code is a great place to start.
- Social Security Number or other private personal information should never be given out to anyone over the phone, text message, or email. If financial institutions need these documents they can be returned in person.
- Don’t post information like date of birth, mother's maiden name, first pet's name etc on social media as those questions are often used to verify identity.
- Shred documents that may contain personal information.
- Have personal credit score memorized.
Securing personal identity is only half the battle. According to creditcards.com there were 13 million credit fraud complaints in 2016. To avoid this stressful situation, keep cards private and secured.
Many wallets now come with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) protection slots for cards, which prevents them from being read and duplicated with screening devices. This simple feature comes with most wallets on the market and is an easy way to get out in front of thieves.
Tips for protecting from credit card fraud:
- Avoid divulging credit card information.
- Keep track of monthly statements (save receipts and verify they always match up).
- Use random PIN numbers, not something that can be tied back like a birthday or year.
- Always report lost or stolen cards instantly.
- Shred cards when they expire, or cut them through the account number so they can not be identified.
- Carry as few cards as possible.
- Make strong, unique passwords for each account.
- Verify all receipts are properly filled out leaving no blanks.
Protecting personal identity and information does not have to be stressful or challenging. Take smart steps to success and safety through these easy daily practices. A number of Identity Theft protection services are available and vary in cost and levels of protection. Genisys Credit Union offers a no-cost service to protect its members called Cyber Scout Identity Theft.
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