8 Ways to Stop an Identity Thief
More than 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. The American Bankers Association is offering eight tips to help consumers protect their information and avoid becoming a victim.
“Identity fraud continues to be a major problem for consumers,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cyber security policy. “Fortunately, there are ways consumers can protect themselves, like being cautious about what information they share and who they share it with, especially online.”
ABA suggests following these eight tips:
- Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
- Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements and other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
- Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
- Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. Annual Credit Report
- Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
- Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
- Report any suspected fraud to ABB immediately.
As spring cleaning season begins, the American Bankers Association is encouraging consumers to put a priority on organizing their finances. ABA has highlighted six tips for getting your financial house in order.
"With the tax season ending, spring is a great time to take a close look at your budget and bank account," said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. "You'll have a clear picture of your financial situation, and you can make stress-reducing moves now that will pay dividends throughout the year."
ABA recommends these six tips to help you organize your finances:
- Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you're paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that's by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rate or eliminating smaller debt first.
- Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you've been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving - and stick to it.
- Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate. Annual Credit Report
- Download your bank's mobile app . From the palm of your hand, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
- Sign up for eStatements , paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house - physical and financial - more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
- Set up automatic bill pay . By signing up for automatic bill pay, you'll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
As loved ones age, we want to provide them with the best care possible. Visit www.eldercare.com for help connecting with skilled, compassionate providers for a better quality of life for you or your loved one.
Additionally, click the link below for helpful tips regarding Elder Financial Abuse . It's a crime that deprives older adults of their resources and ultimately their independence.
Elder abuse isn't limited to financial abuse. The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) is a national non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with members in all 50 states. The goal of NAPSA is to provide Adult Protective Services programs a forum for sharing information, solving problems, and improving the quality of services for victims of elder and vulnerable mistreatment. To learn more, click here .
Don't Fall Victim to the Latest Tax Scam
As tax season nears, it's important to remain vigilant to avoid becoming a victim to scammers. Remember, the IRS will never:
• Initiate contact with you by email or through social media.
• Ask you to pay using a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer.
• Request personal or financial information by email, texts, or social media.
• Threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying.
In the latest scam, fake CP2000 notices often arrive as an attachment to an email (big red flag!). Other telltale signs of this fraud include:
• A “payment” link within the email. Scam emails can link you to sites that steal your personal information, take your money, or infect your computer with malware. Do not click on the link.
• A request that a check be made out to “I.R.S.” Real CP2000s ask taxpayers to make their checks out to “United States Treasury” if they agree they owe taxes.
Don't fall victim to scams involving tax fraud. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Visit the IRS website for more information.
Preparing Your Finances for a Flood, Fire or Other Disaster
Without warning, a flood, fire or other disaster could leave you with a severely damaged home, destroyed belongings and barriers to managing your finances. Many people think of disaster preparedness as having a stockpile of water, canned food, and flashlights, but people also need access to cash and financial services. That's why it is important to include financial preparedness in your disaster plans. [Click the button below to read more.]
Choosing and Using the Right Bank Account
When managing your money, the right tools can make all the difference. That's why it helps to start by opening a bank account that best fits your lifestyle and financial goals. FDIC Consumer News provides some simple pointers to help you choose wisely and streamline how you manage your checking and savings accounts. [Click the button below to read more.]
Cyber Security Awareness
These days, we are always connected - either via mobile phone, computer or tablet. While these devices enable us to instantly connect with family and friends, make purchases, and post photos, this convenience can come at a high price. Many of the apps you use or sites you visit require you to provide personal information including your name, email address and possibly a credit card number. This puts you at an increased risk of having your information compromised by cyber criminals. Anderson Brothers Bank strongly encourages you to visit the Stop. Think. Connect. Campaign at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect for cyber tips and resources.