Learn how to protect yourself.
Everyday transactions often reveal personal information, like your name, address, telephone number, bank or credit card account numbers, income, and even your Social Security number. A skilled identity thief can find a way to obtain a piece of that sensitive information and use it - usually without your knowledge - to commit fraud or theft.
How can I tell if my identity’s been stolen?
Other indications of identity theft could include the following:
• Failure to receive bills or mail (an identity thief could have filed a false change of address)
• Receiving credit cards for which you didn't apply
• Denial of credit for no apparent reason
• Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you never purchased
What's the best way to protect my personal information?As a responsible consumer, you can minimize the risk of identity theft and potential damage by exercising caution and prudence when it comes to your personal information.
• Use unique passwords for online accounts whenever possible.
• Avoid using your mother's maiden name, your date of birth, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your phone number, or a common series of consecutive numbers like 123.
• Always be sure personal information is secured in your residence, especially if you have roommates, hold gatherings with potentially unknown guests, employ outside help, or pay third parties to perform home repairs. Keep paperwork out of sight and password-protect all your computers, laptops, tablets, and cell phones.
What else can I do to protect myself?Always refrain from giving out personally identifiable information on the telephone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know with whom you're dealing. Identity thieves are skilled liars and pose as representatives of banks, internet service providers, and even government agencies to trick people into revealing identifying information.
Before you divulge anything, take the time to confirm that a legitimate representative of a legitimate organization has approached you. If a stranger is on the phone, explain that it's not a good time and that you will return their call at a later date. Be confident when you ask for the caller's full name, telephone number and extension, company, and website address. Often, that’s enough to scare off anyone up to no good. Now, search the internet for more information or call the company's Customer Service Department to clarify the issue at hand.
Here are some other valuable tips:
• Guard your mail and trash against theft. Instead of placing outgoing letters in an unsecured residential mailbox, drop them off at your local U.S. Post Office or deposit them in official U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.
• Remove mail from your mailbox and put deliveries away promptly. If you're planning to be away from your home or business and can't pick up your mail, contact your local U.S. Post Office and request a vacation hold or request USPS Hold Mail online. You can also request vacation holds for packages delivered by most major shipping services.
• To discourage a thief from picking through your trash or recycling bins, tear up or shred charge receipts, credit applications and offers, insurance and medical forms, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and any other documents that could contain sensitive information.
• If you still receive paper bank statements, now's the perfect time to sign up for Online and Mobile Banking and get eStatements via email.
• Keep your Social Security card secure and only share the number when necessary. If someone requests the number, ask if they’ll accept a different form of identification.
• Only carry the ID and credit/debit cards you need.
• Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work.
How can I keep my computer safe?Your computer is a goldmine of personal information to an identity thief. Take the time to safeguard your computer and your data properly. Here are just a few of the many protective measures you can put in place:
• Install reputable virus protection software and update it regularly.
• Keep your computer's operating system current.
• Do not download files from strangers, open unknown attachments, or click on links from people or organizations you don't know. The simple act of opening a file could expose your system to a virus or program that could hijack your system.
• Use a firewall to help prevent uninvited access to your computer and other smart devices connected to your home or business Wi-Fi.
• Avoid using automatic login features that save usernames and passwords.
• Before leaving any website that requires login credentials, make a point of logging off the site.
• Familiarize yourself with the privacy policies of websites you frequent. This documentation typically explains how a website owner handles personally identifiable information collected by the site.
There is no fee for the Mobile Banking App but connectivity and usage rates by your carrier or internet provider may apply. Contact your wireless service provider for more details. Deposits are subject to verification and are not available for immediate withdrawal. Deposit limits and other restrictions apply. MasterMoney is a registered trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.