Protect Your Identity
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. It happens when a criminal wrongfully obtains and uses the personal information belonging to someone else. Such personal information may include your Social Security number (SSN), credit card numbers, or the personal identification number (PIN) code for your bank account at the automated teller machine (ATM). Although you may think that you are careful with this information, identity thieves are clever and can obtain this information in any number of ways.
So, following are some tips for you to reduce your chances of becoming victims to this insidious crime
- Avoid carrying a Social Security card—or anything bearing an SSN—in a wallet or purse unless specifically needed.
- Never give out an SSN, credit card number, or other personal information over the phone unless there is an established, trusted business relationship with the organization and you called them.
- Do not list an SSN, driver's license number, or home phone number on checks.
- Check Social Security Earnings Statements each year for signs of fraud via www.ssa.gov.
- Invest in a high-quality crosscut shredder, and use it.
- Shred everything that has a name, address, or any type of account information on it.
- Do not use the last four digits of an SSN, date of birth, middle name, child's name, pet's name, mother's maiden name, or anything else easily discovered or guessed.
- Discourage banks from using the last four digits of an SSN as a default PIN. If they do, change it.
- Use "strong" passwords of seven characters or more with a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters—and change them periodically.
- Do not use the same user IDs and passwords for high-risk transactions like online banking, brokerage, and PayPal as you do for lower-risk activities like online subscriptions and social networking sites where security may not be as robust.
- If you cannot remember all your passwords, consider using a secure, encrypted password protection device or software that is available as a stand-alone device or application for many computers and smartphones.
- Password protect computer files that contain sensitive personal or account data, and make use of available encryption technology for your computers and smart devices.
- Shield the keypad when using an ATM.
- Never open attachments or links in unsolicited e-mails.
- In general, use caution regarding e-mails containing links.
- Do not respond to suspicious e-mails in any manner.
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International Risk Management Institute, Inc.