Follow these simple identity fraud protection steps and you’ll hit identity thieves where it hurts.
At least once a year, check your credit report and rating from each of the three major credit reporting agencies for fraudulent activity. You can obtain all three reports for free once every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com. In addition, there are companies that offer credit monitoring services for a monthly fee.
- To help prevent identity fraud, keep all identification and financial documents in a safe and private place.
- Carry only those personal identification and credit cards you really need. Never put mail or documents containing personal information, including pre-approved credit card offers, directly in the trash.
- Always shred first. Be aware of people behind you at the ATM, or anywhere else you swipe your card Examine the charges on your credit card statements every month.
- Update virus protection software periodically, and after every new virus alert is announced. Do not download files or open links sent from people you don’t know.
- Enter personal identity and financial information only when there is a “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar and look for the URL to read “https” versus “http.” Remember, the “s” means secure. If you must store personal identity and financial information on your laptop: Use a strong password one that is a hard-to-guess combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers. Don’t use an automatic log-in feature.
- Always log off when you’re finished. Before disposing of a computer, delete personal identity & financial information using a “wipe” utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.
Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll minimize the risk of identity fraud.