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Protect Yourself During National Identity Theft Protection and Awareness Month

December 19, 2019

December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month, and we want to ensure our clients stay informed on the latest identity theft tactics being used by criminals.

Identity theft is the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain. Identity thieves might steal your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, Social Security Number or medical insurance account numbers. Being aware of the various methods criminals obtain personal information to compromise victims’ finances or incur major debt in someone else’s name is the best way to protect yourself from identity theft.

The best and most effective way to protect yourself from identity theft is to educate yourself on how to prevent it. Ensure you understand how to manage your personal information is imperative in protecting yourself. The most important thing you can do to prevent being a victim of a scam is to never expose your personal information, account and pin numbers, financial institutions, or any other identifying pieces of material to an unknown business or person, especially one who has contacted you first. To verify the individual or business, call or mail back using phone numbers or addresses you know are correct.

5 Tips to Protect Your Identity
1. Leave identifying pieces of information such as checkbooks, surplus credit cards, Social Security cards, and passports at home when you do not need them. Leaving them in your purse, pocket, or car is an open invitation for theft.

2. If your credit card or bank statement hasn’t appeared in your mail this month, call your financial institution to report you have not received it. Likewise, if you send out mail via your personal mailbox by flipping the red flag up to alert your mail carrier, that’s an indicator to a thief. Also, remember that shredding important documents that contain personal information like bank and credit card statements is best practice. Anything that goes out on your curb in a trash can or mailbox is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.

3. If your ATM has something strange attached to the card slot, do NOT use it. Those devices are called “skimmers,” and will capture your magnetic strip data as well as your Personal Identification Number (PIN), and your funds will be in the hands of criminals.

4. Don’t trust that your credit card or utility companies are taking meticulous steps to verify your identity. Thieves can get ahold of your new credit card that just arrived in the mail to call and activate it on their own or write down the number and begin using it once you have activated it. Utility companies will intentionally help thieves “verify” the card number you used to pay your last bill with a simple phone call.

5. Call 888-5-OPTOUT to stop banks from sending you preapproved credit offers in the mail. Also, you can stop unwanted sales calls by registering your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov or by calling 888-382-1222.

For more information on how best to protect your identity, or to file an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission, go to identitytheft.gov, or call 877-438-4338.

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