Avoid theft by following these helpful tips:
- Shred financial documents containing personal information after they’re no longer needed.
- Carry only necessary documents and cards in your wallet or purse. Refrain from carrying your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport except when needed.
- Keep personal information in a secured place at home. Be particularly cautious if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having work done in your home.
- Guard mail from theft. Deposit outgoing mail at the post office. Remove mail from home mailboxes as soon as possible. Consider a locking mailbox or a post office box for incoming mail. Many financial institutions will allow checks and debit cards to be sent to your local branch for pickup instead of mailed to your home.
- Beware of unsolicited email, texts or phone messages asking for personal information. Delete these “phishing” messages. Do not return a call to a number given by a potential scammer; if you become concerned about an account, call the number listed on your credit/debit card or your statement.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report at least once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Consumers are entitled to one free report from each bureau per year. Space out the requests over the year so that you request one report every 3 to 4 months. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for additional contact information for the bureaus.
- Opt out from pre-screened credit card offers, national direct mailing lists and telemarketing lists. Further information can be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
- Take proper precautions if you access or use financial information online. Use firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software on computers. Create strong passwords and use different passwords for each account. If shopping or banking online make sure the website is encrypted (the web address will begin with “https”). Properly update operating systems, computer security and software. Always encrypt information sent over a public or open wireless network.