In the past several weeks, we have been sharing a wide array of information with you on “Successfully Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft”. You have learned what identity theft is and its prevalence in the United States, how your personal and identifiable information is illegally obtained by criminals, basic statistics associated with ID theft, financial crimes, traditional mail ID theft, and ID theft through e-commerce websites. This week, we continue with installment four of our series. This week, you will learn the steps you may take with your personal finance to avoid becoming the next victim of identity theft.
Personal Finance Steps
In order to safeguard yourself against identification crimes, you may take the following steps:
- Each year, you should place an emphasis on reviewing the credit reports from all major reporting firms. This will allow you to determine if anyone has established any form of credit under your name or performed another type of ID theft. You may obtain a free report each year through the website, www.annualcreditreport.com.
- You should always strive to avoid providing personal and/or financial information by telephone. If the information has to be given, it is best to do it by home phone. If you provide the information on a phone that is located in a public location or through a cell phone, those nearby may be able to hear the information and use it for illegal purposes.
- All of us receive financial statements, bill statements, credit offers, loan offers, and similar information by mail. While it may be tempting to just throw such information away, it is best if you shred the documents prior to throwing them away. An additional measure that may be taken is, once you shred the documents, to throw the pieces into separate trash containers so that they may not be reassembled by identity thieves. If you want an easier method, just ensure that all documents are shredded using a cross-cut method.
- When out in public, you should only take that which is absolutely necessary. For example, an identification card and a debit card. It is best to limit the personal information that you carry on your person. You should never carry your social security card unless it is necessary, your check book unless you are going to use it, or all of your debit and/or credit cards at once.
- If you have credit cards with zero balances and do not use those cards within a 6 month period, you should cancel them in order to protect yourself.
- If you receive a lot of solicitations from credit cards and insurances, call 888-5OPT-OUT to stop the solicitations.
- In order to reduce direct mail solicitations, send a request to the Direct Marketing Association c/o Mail Preference Service P.O Box 643 Carmel, NY 10512.
Somerville National Bank cares about your personal safety. We encourage our customers and the people that reside in the communities that we service to take every precaution necessary to properly protect themselves from identity theft. Be sure to review our first three installments of this series to remain up-to-date on the latest and greatest techniques to protect yourself. If you would like more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft, contact us at: 513-726-6471