Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
More than 15 million people were victims of identity theft in 2016, and thieves stole $16 billion from them, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.
What can thieves do with your information? They can use your credit card or debit card numbers to make online purchases, open new accounts using your identity, and file tax returns or even bankruptcies in your name.
Following are a few things you can do to avoid becoming a victim.
If you’re monitoring your accounts, you can protect yourself. As your credit union, we’re here to help. Use Lighthouse Community Credit Union’s member online banking or our mobile app to check your account transactions and balances daily. Check your credit score at least monthly. An unexpected change can signal fraud.
If your balance has dipped, or if purchases show up that you did not make, report this suspicious activity immediately, to us or to any financial institution that issued your credit card. Reporting suspicious activity stops the fraud quickly and limits your liability. If fraud occurs at a company such as a retailer, call the company, and then report the fraud to identitytheft.gov. Put a fraud alert on your credit report with all of the major credit reporting agencies. You can even place a credit freeze, which will prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name.
Secure your devices. It’s great we can do so much with our Smartphones and tablets, from online shopping and banking to posting on social media. Make sure you create unique passwords, and that you’re changing them on a regular basis. It’s also a good idea to use software that protects your devices from viruses.
Resist TMI. Social media allows us to keep up with our friends, but it also allows thieves to find out too much about us. Sharing your age and birthday, address, or posting photos while you’re on vacation are all risky practices. If you share your life on social networks, consider tightening up your circle of “friends.”