Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

Published on June 13th, 2018

As more and more of our world becomes digitally focused, the more susceptible we all are to identity theft.  In a matter of seconds, your world can be flipped upside down by identity thieves.  Consumers need to be committed to protecting their identity.  Here are some of the steps you can take to help secure your personal information.

We all have so many passwords to juggle that it’s easy to fall into the trap of using the same or similar passwords for multiple systems.  Do your best to avoid this practice.  Otherwise, once the thieves get into one of your systems, they’re going to have access to many more.  Try to avoid using words like your pet’s name or other easily guessable words.  Instead, use a combination of random numbers, letters, and symbols that will make your password harder to hack.  Also, be patient with systems and companies that force you to change your password.  These companies are only trying to keep your information safe and are following regulatory best practices by making you change your password.

When it comes to Social Media, it can be a wonderful thing to share your life with your friends and loved ones wherever they are across the globe.  However, you want to be careful about oversharing.  Between sharing birthdates, familial information (like mother’s maiden name), and where you grew up, there can be a treasure trove of information that the fraudsters can possibly use to try to steal your identity.  Use Privacy Protections to your advantage and don’t accept “friend” requests from people that you don’t know.

E-mail is another area where you need to be careful.  Whether you’re sifting through your work or personal e-mail or trying to conduct some personal financial business via e-mail, always be cautious of what you’re doing.  Don’t blindly open up e-mails from people that you don’t know.  Don’t click on attachments in e-mails from people you don’t know.  Fraudsters often insert malicious code into attachments to infect your computer and steal your information.  Don’t send personal account information via unencrypted e-mail.  Protect your account numbers, social security number, and other sensitive information by not sending those via standard e-mail.

Another good practice would be to review your credit report by using the website www.AnnualCreditReport.com. You can do this for free up to three times a year if you choose a different credit bureau each time.  Make sure that all the information on the report is yours and that it’s accurate.

If you feel  you or a loved one has fallen victim to identity theft, contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) at 1-877-IDTHEFT or at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

If you have any questions or comments, please write me at david.lukas@leydencu.org.

David Lukas
President & CEO, Leyden Credit Union


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