Identity Theft: How to Protect Yourself
As technology advances, so do the risks associated with it. Customers should be aware of identity theft and how to protect themselves against it. Below we have listed 7 ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
1. Do not overshare information about yourself on social media.
Even if you have social media accounts like FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. set to private, your information can still be obtained. Social media makes it easy for your friends to share information with other people outside of your friends list or to obtain the information themselves. We recommend setting your privacy settings to the highest level and avoid releasing information that could make it easy for someone to guess your security questions like your exact date of birth and your mother’s maiden name. If you’re even unsure if information you’re posting may become misused, it is best practice to avoid using it on social media.
2. Maintain Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software.
All personal computers should be equipped with the most recent anti-virus and anti-malware software. This protects your computer from outside invasions that could steal your information and even make your computer unusable. It is recommended that you allow these software programs to run their scheduled upgrades so you will be protected against the most up-to-date viruses, worms, and Trojans.
3. Be Careful with Your Personal and Financial Documents.
It is important to be mindful of where you store your financial and personal documents. All documents that have your financial account numbers and social security numbers should be kept in a secure area inaccessible to others. This includes: paper checks, bank statements, tax return forms, wills, pay stubs, etc. For documents you wish to dispose of, use a paper shredder to destroy the items prior to throwing away.
4. Create Strong Passwords.
With our Online Banking, we have strong password requirements to help protect your account from outside invasion. We recommend you use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters to make your password secure. Avoid using common used words such as “password” or using parts of your username, your first or last name or the names of children or pets.
5. Be Cautious of using Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks.
Almost all places provide a free wi-fi signal as a thank you to their customers but we discourage you from using an unsecured wi-fi signal to do anything confidential such as looking up banking information. Hackers have the ability of intercepting unsecured wi-fi communications.
6. Monitor your credit and banking accounts.
It is suggested that you monitor your credit accounts from one of the 3 credit bureaus every 6 months. Scan your report to make sure everything listed is an account that you have opened and are aware of. If you see anything suspicious, contact that credit bureau immediately. You can obtain 3 free credit reports (one for each of the credit bureau’s) at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action . It is also important to check your bank statement via online banking or paper statements every month or more. Check what has cleared against your checkbook register to make sure all transactions are ones that you have performed. If you see a transaction that you have not done, you must notify the bank within 60 days of receiving the statement. If notified during this time frame, the bank will be able to work with you on a dispute for any fraudulent charge.
7. Be aware and protect yourself from Phishing scams.
Phishing is the practice of sending out emails that contain links or promotions convincing the recipient to click on them which then creates viruses on the users computers. Other types of phishing involves asking for financial information, money grams, or wires via email or telephone call. Be aware that Brighton Bank will never contact you requesting your personal information. If you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from Brighton Bank, please hang up and call us directly. We also advise our customers to never send money orders or wires to people or businesses they are unfamiliar with.
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, notify the three credit bureaus and Brighton Bank immediately. Contact information is listed below.
**If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft and an IRS Tax Return has already been filed in your name, we would suggest your first step would be to call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. We would also recommend the following steps:
* Quickly respond to any IRS mailings and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
* Contact us immediately so that we can flag your account with a special alert.
* Contact all three major credit bureaus at the numbers listed above to put a status alert on your credit reports
* Continue to complete your IRS Tax Returns and pay your taxes, even if you have to do so by paper form.