During this month of spending and online shopping, we observe National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. Holiday sales are expected to exceed $1 trillion this year, increasing the opportunity for identity theft across the country.
Follow these steps to ensure you are keeping yourself protected from possible identity thieves:
Destroy Receipts and Statements
Anything that has your personal information–especially account numbers and card numbers–can be used against you. Carefully shred and dispose of any bank statements, insurance records, old cards, and even receipts that might have your card number printed on them. All TopLine branch locations offer free Shred-It™ services where you can bring your past bills, receipts, financial statements, and more to have them securely shredded and tossed.
If someone is asking for your personal financial information like account numbers, PINs, security codes or Social Security number, be very wary, particularly if it is over the phone, via email or text. If you’re tempted to trust them, it’s a good idea to do a little research on your own to validate their requests. Call the company by using a phone number you have on records for them – from a statement or the back of a credit or debit card, and search for their company online. If it’s a scam, the website will look questionable or won’t exist, and others may have even posted warnings. TopLine will never contact you via phone, email or text to request personal information.
Watch Credit Card Solicitations
Empty your mailbox quickly so that credit card pitches can’t be filled out in your name. Take your name off of junk mail lists whenever possible to reduce the amount of unwanted mail.
Safekeeping for Your Social Security Number
According to the Social Security Administration, you should not keep your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep your family’s social security cards in a locked, secure location. Once your number is memorized, there is little need for the physical card.
Monitor your Information
Keep an eye on your credit card and bank statements on a daily basis, or weekly at a minimum.
If you don’t recognize a charge, contact your banking institution right away. Similarly, check your credit report at least once a year. Visit http://annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228 to request one. Once you’ve received your credit report, we’d be happy to help you make sense of what you see. Stop by any TopLine branch location or call us at 763-391-9494 to arrange for your free credit report review.
Passwords for your online banking should be mixed letters, numbers, and characters, and should be changed every few months as a precaution. As cumbersome as it seems, use different passwords for different sites, and don’t leave a written list of passwords around, particularly at your place of work. There are a few helpful add-ons online to store all your passwords, such as LastPass, Sticky Password, LogMeOnce, and more. You can see a helpful review of these and more in an article at pcmag.com.
At TopLine, we are committed to helping you protect yourself from Identity Theft. For additional tips and links to more resources, visit TopLine’s Identity Protection resource.
For more information on Internet security, read our blog from June 2016.