Protect Your Data – Identity Theft Revisited
By: Advocate Brokerage
Identity theft is increasingly becoming one of the most common forms of crime in our country, costing victims countless millions of dollars. According to the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2010 some 8.6 million households fell victim to identity theft.
This, along with recent news about customer information stolen from major companies such as Sony and Global Payments, underscores the urgent need to act now to protect your personal information and prevent the potential costly consequences of identity theft.
Advocate Brokerage, and our partner Chubb Insurance Group, would like to share tips on how best to guard against such identity fraud:
- Protect your Social Security Number (SSN).
- You should not carry your SSN with you. If you do not require the card to receive care, leave your Social Security card or healthcare card with your SNN on it in a secure location at home whenever possible.
- Only provide your Social Security Number when absolutely necessary for tax forms, employment, student records, or stock and property transactions.
- If your driver’s license number is your SSN or a financial institution opts to use your SSN as you account number, ask them to change it immediately.
- Never give your SSN over the phone unless you have a trusted business relationship with the organization calling and they are calling from the organization’s verified number.
- Protect Your Wallet.
- Never leave your wallet, purse or pocketbook unattended – even in your car.
- Avoid carrying on your person your birth certificate, passport, military identification card, insurance card with your SSN on it, banking information (PINs, logins, passwords, or account numbers), paychecks or pay stubs, and deposit slips.
- Protect Your Credit.
- Minimize the number of credit or debit cards you use and only carry one or two at a time.
- Cancel unused accounts because unused accounts provide additional targets for thieves.
- Check you credit report as frequently as possible. For details visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877.322.8228.
- Enroll in any fraud monitoring service that may be offered by your financial institutions.
- Protect Yourself Online.
- Never click on a link in an e-mail claiming to come from a financial institution or business. Also, never provide personal or account data in response to such an e-mail. Typically, this is known as a “phishing” scam.
- Never enter personal information, including passwords, account information, and credit card numbers into a website that you are not familiar with.
- Passwords can protect your computer and data with built-in security in your operating system.
- If you discard or give away your computer, make sure to remove your hard drive and any other storage media and physically destroy what you do not need.
- Remove Your Name From Direct Marketing Lists.
- Permanently remove your name from the pre-approved mail offer lists by calling 888.5OPT.OUT (888.567.8688) or visit: www.optoutprescreen.com.
- Add your name to the National Do-Not-Call Registry by calling 888.382.1222 or visit the main Do-Not-Call Registry website at: www.fcc.gov/cgb/donotcall.
- Add your name to your state’s Do-Not-Call list, if it has one.
- Add your name to “name deletion lists” used nationwide by marketers. To find out how to proceed, visit: www.dmachoice.org.
- Whenever possible, say “no” to the sharing of your personal information with your financial institutions, credit card companies, insurance companies and investment firms. And ask them not to send unsolicited checks.
These suggestions can all be used to develop a personal plan for lowering your risk of identity theft and protect your personal information. With any plan you devise, it is still important to have a back-up contingency plan just in case your information is stolen. At Advocate Brokerage, we offer protection against identity theft though affordable and comprehensive insurance policies. Please contact us to discuss how we can give you peace of mind, and keep you and your family’s valuable personal information protected.
Post written by DGI