How To Protect Yourself From Fraud
Today it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about your personal information. Given data breaches in recent years by major companies including LinkedIn and ParkMobile, everyone should consider themselves at risk for fraud and take steps to educate themselves about how to protect their information, common scams to keep an eye out for, and what to do if you are a victim of identity theft.
Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft
The number one rule to protect yourself from identity theft is to limit how much of your information you share. Never give out identifying information unless it’s absolutely necessary and you know it’s a trusted and verified source.
Store personal information, such as your Social Security card or birth certificate, in a secure location. Don’t carry these sensitive documents around and avoid sharing your Social Security number whenever possible. At home and at work, keep your wallet, purse, and any documents that have personal information safe.
Shred documents containing important or identifying information, including credit applications, insurance or medical papers, and financial statements. Throwing these documents out without shredding puts your information at risk from thieves who pick through trash and recycling bins to find personal information they can use. Banking records such as ATM receipts, deposit slips, and checks that you deposit through mobile banking should be kept only until you reconcile them with your monthly statement, then shredded (keep an eye out for Piscataqua Savings Bank’s yearly Shred Day where community members can safely shred up to two boxes of documents!). You can also decrease your risk by signing up for eStatements to access your bank statements online.
Be sure to monitor your monthly bank statements and credit reports. Check that all information is accurate and keep an eye out for suspicious activity and credit inquiries.
Proactive Steps You Can Take To Prevent Fraud
One of the best ways you can position yourself to catch fraud quickly if it happens is to make sure your contact information is up to date with any banks, credit card companies, investment firms or other financial institutions you do business with. In the event of fraudulent activity or a data breach, you could miss out on important alerts if the institutions you do business with don’t have the correct phone number or the correct email address on file.
Opt-in for two-step authentication for online access whenever possible. Two-step authentication requires a one-time code that is sent almost immediately by text or email in order to login and prevents immediate access if your password is compromised.
Use a unique password for email and bank accounts. Social media platforms are frequent targets for hackers; never use the same password that you use for a social media account, like Facebook or Instagram, with sensitive accounts like your online banking portal.
Sign up for eAlerts with your bank, so that you get text alerts or email messages each time a specific event occurs like balance thresholds being met, transactions being posted or checks processed for payment.
Finally, avoid swiping your credit card at a payment terminal if you can tap or dip the card’s EMV chip instead. Chip cards are far more difficult to duplicate and less subject to fraud via credit card skimmers, which are small devices that criminals secretly install at payment terminals in order to steal card information.