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How You Can Protect Yourself

Protect Your Personal Information

Because you can control the information you choose to release, you are the single best person to protect your personal information. There are some easy ways do this by keeping anything with any personal or account information in a safe place, providing your information only to trusted sources, and by reducing the amount of mail you receive with your information on it.

It's okay to be skeptical when providing your personal information. If you can't verify the legitimacy of the business or person that you may be providing your information to, or if you don't understand why a certain piece of information is needed, you may want to think twice about the transaction.

Take care of your personal information

Your personal information is present on mail, credit cards, and identification. Protecting these pieces of information is the first step in reducing your risk of identity theft and fraud.

  • Carry only necessary identification with you. Don't carry your Social Security card.
  • Treat your credit cards and Check Cards like cash.
  • Retrieve incoming mail from your mailbox quickly. Do not leave outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox or any other location.
  • Make copies of all of the financial information that you carry with you daily and store the copies in a safe place.

Provide information only to trusted sources

You should share your information only with trusted sources. If you can't verify the identity of the source asking for your personal information, you should be very cautious about the transaction.

  • Never provide personal information unless you have initiated the contact and have confirmed the business or person's identity.
  • Be cautious of telephone and door-to-door solicitations.
  • Be skeptical of offers that seem "too good to be true". They usually are.
  • Learn to recognize fraudulent Emails.

Eliminate paper and increase security

Recent studies have shown that a very easy way to protect your personal information is to limit the amount of paper that has your personal information printed on it. Criminals have been known to get this paper by stealing mail from your mailbox or even by taking it out of your trash.

Here are some ways you can eliminate paper and increase your security:

  • Reduce the amount of mail you receive that displays personal information.
  • Shred unnecessary financial documents immediately before throwing them away.
  • Stop receiving account statements in the mail.
  • Sign up for Direct Deposit to have your funds put directly in your account without the need for paper checks.
  • Opt-out of pre-approved credit card offers by dialing 1.888.567.8688. This will communicate your preference to all three of the major credit bureaus.

Secure Your Computer

You don't have to be an expert in computers to protect yourself on the Internet from online fraud and identity theft.

If you haven't already, install anti-spyware, anti-virus, and a personal firewall on your computer. There are many of these products available that will help you prevent criminals from gaining access to your computer and stealing your personal information. A properly protected computer will provide you with secure access to your financial information and combat the efforts of criminals trying to gain access to your activities.

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