Safeguarding Your Personal Information
In 2022, U.S. Consumers lost $43 billion in identity theft & fraud. Unfortunately, fraud and identity theft are growth industries in the U.S., and criminals are constantly changing tactics to lure unwary victims and avoid law enforcement. It’s important to know how to keep your information safe as well as how to respond if you or a loved one are a victim.
Below are tips to keep your information – and your money – safe.
- Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Enable multi-factor authentication on online accounts. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
- Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
- Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
- Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
- Protect your computer. Steer clear of public Wi-Fi networks. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure. Finally, avoid sending any financial or sensitive information via email.
- Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
What to do if you are a victim
Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately so they can take action. At Flatwater Bank we offer Identity Theft Services to help those who think they may have become a victim of ID theft. If you think you are a victim, give us a call and we will put you in contact with a fraud resolution specialist. They can help with the following:
- Spotting if a Child's Identity Has Been Stolen
- Replacing Important Documents After a Disaster
- Placing Active-duty Fraud Alerts for Military Service
- Resolving Medical Fraud
- Limiting Damages from Stolen or Compromised Data
- Preventing Criminals from Using Your Name for Employment
- Fighting Tax Fraud to Clear Your Name and Secure Your Refund
- Resolving Unauthorized Account Activity or Account Takeover
- Power of Attorney or Legal Guardianship Questions for Elderly Family Members
For news on the latest identity scams and access to a wealth of resources and proactive tips to help you avoid becoming a victim, visit our insider tips page.