In today’s electronic world, a newer type of theft is one of the most personal things you have: your identity. If someone is able to steal your identity, they can open credit cards in your name, steal your tax return, and commit other crimes.
Tips on Keeping your Information Safe
- Stay organized! See our page on Financial Record Keeping.
- Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet. It is easy to steal your identity with your social security card and your name and address provided by your state ID card.
- Lock it up. Keep documentation in a secure area. A major source of identity theft could very well be those closest to you, simply because they may have better access to your data.
- Only provide your social security information when required. There are times when you will need to provide your social security number, such as applying for loans, or visiting the doctor, but make sure that you aren’t being heard by others and that you are providing your information to a reputable source.
- Buy a paper shredder. Never throw out or recycle anything with your personal information on it without shredding the paperwork first.
- Limit access to social media: It’s generally a good idea to restrict your profiles to friends only.
- Use secure passwords and change them frequently.
- Use different passwords for every website that you visit.
- Use obscure reminder questions. When setting up online access, most sites will allow you to ask reminder questions if you forget your password. Questions about your dog’s name or where you were born tend to be more insecure, especially if that information is readily accessible on your Facebook profile.
- Keep your computer software up to date and protected. Nowadays a good portion of your financial life is online. Keep your computer’s anti-virus and spyware software up to date.
- Don’t click on links if you don’t know the source: Keep in mind too, that if your best friend sends you a link that you weren’t expecting that their E-mail may be compromised.
- Limit online bill pay and personal access on shared computers.
- Make sure that you are using a password on your phone, and if available, sign up for remote cell phone wiping in the event of theft or loss.
If You Think Your Information was Compromised
- Take advantage of a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com
- Carefully review your bank and credit card statements.
- Change all of your passwords.
- File an identity theft report with the police.
- Notify your bank(s) and credit card companies.
- Let the credit agencies know and have them place a fraud alert.
- Consider using credit monitoring services.
If Your Wallet is Lost or Stolen
If stolen, notify the police ASAP. Notify all of your banks and credit companies. They can cancel and issue new cards. Review monthly statements and work with credit companies to review recent charges.