Security from Identity Theft: How to Avoid Being a Victim
Courtesy DATCU Credit Union, Denton LIVING WELL Magazine
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes with about 1.8 million victims in 2010. While significant improvements have been made in this area, identity thieves become more sophisticated every day.
It is critical that you learn to protect yourself, recognize the warning signs, and know what steps to take if your identity is stolen.
First, practice safety when using the internet. Create strong passwords that do not include personal information and always change your passwords frequently.
Only share personal information when you are initiating the contact and are using a secure web portal. If you receive an unsolicited email requesting personal information (from any source), do NOT provide it and do NOT click on the links.
Monitor the mail delivered to your home and always shred materials with account numbers or personal information. Never carry your social security card or personal information in your wallet or share that information over the phone to an unsolicited caller. Review your credit report for unfamiliar charges or accounts.
Warning signs that signal your identity might be at risk:
- Expected bills that do not arrive on time
- Credit card accounts or bills of which you have no prior knowledge
- Credit application denied for no good reason
If you receive calls from creditors about purchases you did not make or find unusual charges on your billing statements, assume that your identity has been stolen.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, take these immediate steps to protect yourself:
- Contact all three credit reporting agencies and put a fraud alert on your credit report
- File a report with a law enforcement agency (creditors require to verify that criminal fraud has occurred).
- Contact every company where fraud occurred
- Contact all financial institutions and advise them that your identity has been stolen
Finally, follow-up to confirm that all fraudulent charges are removed from your credit history. DATCU has been serving members for 75 years. If you ever need financial help, please give us a call.
Dale Kimble, president/ CEO of DATCU Credit Union, may be reached at 866-387-8585.