Monday, July 18, 2011

Watch Out! Identity/Credit Theft Prevention

I am sure all of you have been nagged by your parents or by Oprah about protecting your credit cards and social securities numbers. Yes it is all annoyingly repetitive but worth listening to...Luckily I've never experienced my bank account being hacked (*knock on wood*) but I have had many friends who have been victims of credit fraud.

Recently one of my friends received a text message saying her debit card had been deactivated and she needed to call this number to reactivate it. It was a recording that sounded similar to her bank and asked her for her card number and last digits of her social security. Seems typical right? Turns out some guy in California hacked her information and was withdrawing money from an ATM! In fact, just the other day I just received an email from Chase Bank asking me to verify my information because it couldn't be processed...but wait, I don't even have an account with Chase Bank...sooo scary!!

Anywho here are some tips I've either read about or that have been drilled into my head by my lovely parents!

  1. DON'T keep your social security card in your wallet, memorize your number and keep your card locked away in a safe place.
  2. ALWAYS check up on your bank accounts, make sure there are no weird charges. This will also help you keep track of your balance so you don't overdraft :) Also check your credit report from time to time to make sure everything is correct (i.e. accounts, addresses).
  3. NEVER give your entire social security number over the phone, internet, or mail, no matter who it is. They should only be asking for your last four digits. It is only ok when you are applying for a credit card or it is school/government related, but even then make sure it is a secure site!
  4. DON'T respond to a text or email from someone who is asking for your personal information because these days it can be made to look like an official email from your bank, but ends up being a trap. If you ever give out your info make sure you know who you are talking to and make sure any contact you receive is coming directly from your bank's website (even websites can be hacked). Not to mention, you can always go into your bank branch and do it in person just to be safe.
  5. CONSIDER opening a separate banking account to use for online purchases amd only transfer the amount of money you need.Yes, this is a pain but it's definitely worth the extra effort because if that account gets hacked they won't have access to the millions of dollars you've got saved up in your main account ;). The Internet can be a scary place these days, you never know who is waiting on the other side to steal your information.
  6. TRY to change your passwords often, yes this is also a pain, but again worth it because hackers can get into your emails and still any information they find. And don't use obvious passwords like 123456.
  7. SHRED, SHRED, SHRED!!! I am somewhat OCD when it come to this. I shred everything! Even my receipts from McDonald's because it has the last four digits of my debit card on it. Believe me! There are people out there who dumpster dive as a hobby. All it takes is one non-shredded bank statement or even a poorly torn apart paper for them to uncover your personal information. Invest in a shredder.
Hope you can use some of these tips!!

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