Financial Tips

National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month

By December 9, 2014 June 27th, 2016 No Comments

Although actress Melissa McCarthy makes identity theft a laughing matter in one of her recent movies, we all know that real life identity theft is not funny. Identity theft is a real issue that affects real people, every day. The sad part is that many of the people affected by identity theft could have avoided the problem if they had known what signs to be looking for and what behaviors they could take to prevent it. Our goal is to make you aware of the ways in which identity theft occurs and to provide you with tips to prevent it from happening to you and your loved ones.

Identity theft can take place through many different channels of communication. Please note the bolded headings to see how you can protect yourself while utilizing that particular means of communication.

Telephone
• Never offer personal information over the phone, especially without verifying the identity of the caller on the other end of the line
• When in doubt, hang up the phone and call the publicly known number of the company or person who was claiming to be calling you
• Do not call telephone numbers provided in emails that state that they need your “immediate response” or asking you to “call to verify” any sort of personal information

Computer/Internet Surfing
• Only download material from trusted websites
• Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer, make sure to keep it up-to-date, and run a weekly scan
• Keep your computer’s software up-to-date
• Keep firewalls turned on
• Use strong passwords and reset them every 6 months (use 8+ characters, mixing random letters and numbers)
• Take caution when using a public computer to not provide any personal information on that computer or visited websites

Email
• Do not click on links in emails, instead type the website address in your browser
• Do not send confidential information via email
• Do not click on email links asking for an immediate action or confirmation of your personal information
• Do not click on email links asking you to claim a prize
• Be suspicious of emails with spelling or grammar errors and emails addressed as “Dear Customer”

Signs of Spyware on your computer
• Frequent pop-up advertisements
• New/random icons on your desktop
• Sluggish computer
• Random error messages

Three basic rules for online safety
• If you didn’t go looking for it, don’t install it
• If you installed it, update it
• If you no longer need it, get rid of it