Secure yourself from identity theft
Identity theft occurs when someone acquires key pieces of another person’s identity – such as name and credit card information or Social Security number – with the intent to commit fraud. In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission recorded 399,225 cases of identity theft in the United States. Identity theft can happen to anyone, regardless of whether or not they use the Internet. Taking proper precautions with your personal information is generally the best protection against identity theft.
Although financial institutions generally have staff and procedures in place to maintain security and protect personal information, consumers must also take care to make sure they aren’t “the weak link” in security. Financial institutions generally recommend that you:
- Check your financial accounts regularly and look for unusual withdrawals, deposits and transactions.
- Ensure your online account profile and contact information are up to date, and set up fraud watches, email and text alerts on all your accounts. If you do receive an alert, review it carefully and notify your financial institution if something appears incorrect.
- Do not provide personal information to anyone you don’t know, and be especially careful if someone asks for personal information in an email. Fraudulent (“phishing”) emails may ask you to provide personal information, open an attachment, or to click a link to verify or change your account in some way. NEVER click on the links, open attachments, or share any of your information online unless you’re absolutely sure the email is legitimate. When in doubt, navigate to the financial institution’s website directly and log in without clicking the link in the email. And avoid sharing sensitive personal information like a Social Security number via email – always assume something sent via email may be read by a third party.
- Use different username and password combinations when online, and change them regularly. When possible, choose strong authentication options for your accounts. This may include two different security checks when you log in. Examples could include a password, image, answering a security question, a six-digit mobile phone PIN and more. This double check will reduce the likelihood of someone being able to fraudulently change or access your account.
If you suspect any fraudulent activity on your account, contact your financial institution as soon as possible.
Visit the ADA Center for Professional Success for more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft.