Identity theft is a common headline these days, and the thieves seem to be getting more and more aggressive. But there are ways you can protect yourself, and your bank account.
- Simple, but effective – don’t share your personal information, birth date, Social Security number, or even your maiden name, just because someone asks.
- Use security features on your phone, especially if you use it for online banking. Don’t store your login and password for your bank accounts, and always log out of sites when you’re finished.
- Monitor your accounts online on a regular basis, and keep track of legitimate expenses. Even if you don’t reconcile your bank account every month, read through your bank statement to see if there are charges you don’t recognize.
- Read through your monthly credit card statement to verify the charges listed were made by you, especially after traveling.
- Use virus detection software on your desktop computer and laptop. Change your passwords often, and get creative with them, so they’re not easy for an identity thief to guess.
- Keep your Social Security card safe. Don’t carry it with you! A fireproof lockbox or safe in your home can offer you security, and peace of mind, for all your important documents.
- Collect your mail every day, and have the post office hold your mail while you’re on vacation.
- Checking your credit score occasionally may alert you to someone opening accounts in your name. Close any old credit card accounts you no longer use, and putting a freeze on your credit files gives you additional protection.
- Don’t share your personal information on social media. Those fun quizzes that ask you to post your maiden name, your first pet’s name, your high school mascot, etc. may be giving identity thieves clues to your passwords and security questions.
- If you’re careful with your personal information, but still concerned about security, many insurance companies are now offering identity theft policies to help you recover your losses. Be sure to purchase such a policy from a reputable insurance agent.
We hear a lot about scams targeting senior citizens, but children are also vulnerable to identity theft. Parents might not be aware that it’s happened until their child is applying for student loans or their first credit card. Safeguard your child’s Social Security card, and teach them to be smart with the information they share on social media.