With all the recent cyber breaches (Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus etc.), we are all becoming more interested in protecting our identity. We want to provide a few tips to help you protect yourself against identity theft.
According to Identity Theft Info.com, Approximately 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year, with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion. On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately 7% of all adults have their identities misused, with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
If your identity is stolen, on average you will spend over 40 hours and over $1,500 to recover and restore your information.
Some clues that your identity has been stolen:
· Errors or charges that are not yours on credit card statements.
· Billing statements are missing or don’t show up.
· New accounts are opened in your name.
· Debt collectors call about debts that are not yours.
· Calls or mail about accounts in your minor child’s name.
1. Order a credit report annually.
2. Some credit cards now offer credit information on every statement.
3. Carefully read all statements.
4. Pay your bills online using a secure site if that service is available.
5. Check and verify all charges on credit card statements.
6. Don’t put outgoing mail, especially bill payments, in personal curbside mail boxes.
7. Keep important documents in a safe.
8. Don’t travel with all your credit cards, only take what you need.
9. Buy a shredder and use it.
10. Create passwords or PIN numbers out of a random mix of letters and numbers.
11. Limit information on social media.
12. Don’t give out your financial or personal information over the phone or Internet
a. unless you have initiated the contact or know for certain with whom you are dealing.
13. Don’t open emails from people you don’t know.
14. Keep your computer’s operating system, browser, and security up to date.
15. Use anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall.