Most of us use the internet every day for all kinds of things—many of them financial in nature, such as paying bills or online shopping. While the convenience of using the internet is fantastic, it is important to take some steps to protect yourself from becoming the next target for identity thieves.
Identity theft is a huge problem worldwide. Using your personal data, thieves may try to open new accounts in your name, access existing accounts, or file phony tax returns in your name to collect a refund. That stolen personal data doesn’t always come from the internet – even people who never, or rarely, use the internet can be victims if their information is compromised and taken from paper medical records, an employer’s records, or anywhere else where your personal information is captured and retained.
What can you do to avoid identity theft?
There are some steps each of us can take to help lower our risk of becoming victims, including:
- Don’t carry your social security card in your purse or wallet. Memorize your social security number, then keep the card in a safe place where you will be able to access it if needed.
- Review your account statements as they are available, and bring any discrepancies to the financial institution’s attention.
- Keep your computer safe by installing and using up-to-date anti-spyware, anti-virus and malware protection.
- Keep your mobile phone, tablet and computer safe by installing software and application updates when they are available.
- Dispose of documents safely. If you no longer need an account statement or other document containing your personal information, use a cross-cut shredder rather than throwing the document in the garbage.
- Watch out for “phishing” attempts. If you receive an unsolicited email that looks like it is from your financial institution asking you to click on a link to verify personal information, don’t click on it. Likewise, a phone call that asks for personal information should be regarded with skepticism. Thieves are getting more sophisticated in their attempts to obtain your information. Before clicking on a link or providing any information over the phone, call your financial institution at the number listed on your account statement or card to confirm the request you received is legitimate.
- Use smart passwords that are not easy to guess, and don’t share them with anyone. It is also a good idea to use different passwords for different websites. In the event one site is hacked by thieves, you can limit your exposure.
- Be careful about how much personal information you are sharing online through social networking sites. Providing too much personal information could give thieves the answers they need to successfully answer password “challenge” questions on your accounts.
By incorporating these best practices, you are doing your part to stay one step ahead of identity thieves. To learn more about how Mercer Savings Bank helps protect your information, contact us today in Celina, Ft. Recovery or Greenville.