These days, it is easier for criminals to steal your identity. Your information can be obtained by stealing your wallet, rifling through your trash, or by compromising your credit or bank information. Hackers can access your computer or steal your information from a store, website, healthcare provider, or the government. You can reduce your risk of loss by following a few simple hints.
Tips for avoiding identity theft
- Use strong passwords for your bank, credit card, and online shopping accounts and change them often. Don’t use the same passwords for different accounts.
- - New guidelines suggest using long phrases that are easy for you to remember and a multi-factor authentication when available.
- Your email accounts can provide thieves with information and access to your financial records. Secure them with strong passwords that you change often.
- Don’t access your financial accounts using open access networks, such as free WiFi access in coffee shops, stores, and unsecure WiFi hotspots.
- Protect access to your computer and phone using passwords.
- Always shred ATM receipts, credit card and bank statements.
- Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
- Reconcile your bank account often, and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
- Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year.
If you are at risk
- Report lost or stolen debit or credit cards immediately.
- If you use your phone or computer for purchases, notify your bank, credit card company, and the police if your phone or computer is lost or stolen.
- Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you find them.
- - Keep a list of credit card and bank telephone numbers to report a loss or theft.
- - Report scams to police and federal agencies at FBI.gov
- If your identity has been stolen, ask the credit bureau to put a statement to that effect in your credit report.