Proactively Protecting Yourself Against Fraud
There are numerous services available to monitor your credit and personal information for a fee and most of them provide a very helpful and valuable service. There are many things you can do, at no additional cost, to proactively thwart any would be fraudsters and identity thieves.
Monitor your Accounts
Monitor your bank accounts and credit card accounts regularly. The sooner you spot irregular activity the better. Stay one step ahead of fraud and sign up for alerts from your bank or credit card company. Alerts are real time and can be sent straight to your phone.
Check your Credit Report
Once a year the three major credit bureaus offer each consumer a free credit report. Take advantage of this!
Make sure your passwords are unique and not easy to hack. One trick to help you remember long complex passwords is to use letters, numbers, & symbols to a stanza of your favorite song or book.
Monitor Your Mail
It is hard to believe but unsecured mailboxes are prime pickings for thieves. Be sure to shred any unused pre-approved credit card applications. As a best practice, shred anything that has personal information on it before throwing it in your trash. Outgoing mail should be dropped in a secure mailbox to ensure safe delivery.
Be Smart on Social Media
Do not make it easy for thieves to steal your information. Watch what you post on social media. Personal information posted to these sites gives thieves the advantage. Here are a few safety tips when using social networking sites:
- Use caution when accepting friend invitations. Only accept invitations from people you know. Cybercriminals create bogus profiles to propagate malware.
- Show “limited friends” a cut down version of your profile. This can be useful if you have associates to whom you do not wish to give full friend status.
- Remove a connection to a friend that you are no longer comfortable with.
- Block individuals if they are harassing you or if you just don’t want to be visible to them.
- Report abuse. The most efficient way to do this is right where it occurs – in the social media site’s privacy settings.
- Be careful where you click. Make sure to evaluate the potential costs/benefits of pop-ups, applications, and invites.
- Don’t be an early adopter of a new app. Give the community time to discover the security weaknesses before you dive in.
- Avoid suspicious-looking URLs. Make it a habit to hover over links to identify the source and proceed with caution.
- Never click on unsolicited links containing celebrity gossip, natural disasters, political scandals etc. Scammers quickly build malicious websites designed to trick users into installing malware or sending donations to replicated websites. Instead, go directly to a reputable source’s website.
- Never copy & paste a link into your address bar unless you know where the link goes. Doing so will bypass you browser’s security controls.
- Never post your whereabouts or your vacation plans. You are only helping burglars to plan their break-in.
- Never give up your login credentials. Social engineers are equipped with enough information to trick you into believing the request is from a legitimate authority.
- Ask permission before posting someone’s picture or publishing a conversation that was meant to be private.
- Respect the law, including those laws governing defamation, discrimination, harassment and copyright.
Identity Theft & Fraud Prevention
With the advancement and proliferation of technology into almost every aspect of our lives, identity theft is on the rise. Identity theft occurs when an individual steals your identity by using your personal identifying information, such as your name, social security number, debit cards, or credit cards with the intent of committing fraud or other crimes.
The Federal Trade Commission has developed a one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.
Monitoring your Credit
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies.
To order your free annual report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call (877) 322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three companies individually for the free report. They are providing free annual credit reports only as noted above.
Federal Deposit Insurance Company
The FDIC is an independent agency of the United States government that protects you against the loss of your deposits if an FDIC-insured bank or savings association fails. FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Since the FDIC’s creation in 1933, no depositor has ever lost even one penny of FDIC-insured deposits. The FDIC provides consumers with educational resources on important financial issues and topics.
If you have a question about verifying your deposit insurance coverage, stop by or call your local Today’s Bank office and a Customer Service Representative will be happy to review your account coverage with you. The FDIC has developed the Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE). EDIE calculates the insurance coverage for Personal, Business, and Government Accounts. Check out EDIE the Estimator, it will help you understand your FDIC insurance coverage.