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Treat unsolicited offers with suspicion
If you receive a request or offer via e-mail, pop-up message or phone that requires you to provide or confirm personal information, call the business using a phone number other than the one given to confirm the legitimacy of the request or offer. If the inquiry seemingly originates from a known and trusted entity, use the number on the back of your card or on your monthly statement.
Make payments electronically when possible
Electronic payments reduce the amount of paper floating around with personal information on it, and many financial institutions offer online bill paying services.
Shop carefully online
If you initiate an online transaction and must provide personal data, look for indicators that the site is secure like "https" in the Web address or the closed padlock icon in the bottom frame of your browser. Avoid sites without these indicators. It is also wise to conduct financial transactions only on wired Internet connections. Wireless connections can be more vulnerable to attack.
Use updated anti-virus software, anti-spyware & a firewall
Some phishing and pharming attacks contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.
Review account statements regularly
Verify all transactions by matching receipts to checking, savings, and credit card account statements. Frequently reviewing activity online helps identify unauthorized activity between monthly statements. Many financial institutions offer free e-mail alerts for routine account activity, as well as for unusual transactions.
Review your credit report every year
You are entitled to one free credit report each year. You may also obtain a free report, log on to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.
Protect your purse or wallet
One of the leading causes of identity theft is lost or stolen belongings containing personal information. Minimize the number of items you carry that contain personal information, such as your Social Security card.
If you become a victim, close all affected accounts immediately to minimize the damage. Change existing passwords on all other accounts, including any new accounts you open.
Limit the disclosure of your personal information by contacting your financial institutions, mortgage brokers and the three major reporting agencies. Tell them you want to opt out of programs that share your information. You can also block inquiries that result in pre-approved lines of credit.
- Shred all personal & financial documents before disposing of them
- Destroy unused debit, ATM and credit cards
- Remove mail promptly from your mailbox
- Memorize PINs, passwords and Social Security numbers – do not carry them with you!
- Use longer, more complex PINs and change them often
- Sign all debit and credit cards immediately
- Never use your PIN as a password
- Never disclose your PIN or account password to any individual for any reason
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