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Take Care…and Keep Your Identity to Yourself

“Take care!”

Have you ever heard someone use that as a way of saying goodbye? Have you ever used it yourself? What exactly are we asking people to “take care” of? Do we only say it to friends who are sick, unlucky, or prone to taking dangerous risks? Or can we use it to end a conversation with almost anyone? Isn’t there something that each of us should take better care of?

How about your identity? By going about our business each day – buying something online, using a debit card to pay at a restaurant or store, leaving account statements in an unlocked mailbox – we make pieces of our identity vulnerable. There are steps we can take to monitor and reduce the risk of identity theft. October 17 to 23 is National Protect Your Identity Week, so it seems like a good time to review a few tips.

  • Shop online only at secure web pages (one sign to look for is a Web page URL that starts with “https:”). Don’t send credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other sensitive data via email.
  • When using a payment card at a restaurant or other store, if possible make sure the card stays in your sight to reduce the risk of someone trying to copy data off the card.
  • If possible, get a locked mailbox. At the very least, don’t leave mail sitting in your mailbox for a long time. Consider mailing bill payments from a post office or secure mailbox. Thieves sometimes steal mail to get confidential ID numbers and other information.
  • Reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive by calling a toll-free number offered by the national credit bureaus: 888-567-8688.
  • Review your bank statements regularly and report any unauthorized transactions immediately.
  • Don’t respond to unexpected requests for confidential personal information that come by email, phone, text message, or via social networking sites.
  • Shred any documents that include account numbers or other personal information before throwing them away.
  • Regularly review your credit reports to be sure that no one has applied for credit in your name.

Some companies offer services to help consumers protect their financial information. For more tips and information, check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling Protect Your Identity Week site.

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Posted in Banking Basics, Financial Education, Industry News.

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