- Your Social Security number is sacred. Don’t just hand out your SSN or your child’s SSN to anyone who asks for it. Guard those nine digits carefully, only sharing them when required by law.
- Shred patrol. Don’t leave sensitive financial mail sitting in your mailbox or your trash bins. Shred any document containing your personal information, rather than tossing it in the recycling or garbage bin.
- Shop safe online. Only give your credit card information to trusted sites, usually designated by the icon in your browser window. Also, look for the “s” (which stands for “secure”) in “https,” the beginning of the website address.
- Don’t get phished! Don’t fall for “phishing” e-mails and phone calls that solicit personal information. It’s rare (if ever) that your bank or the government would contact you asking for password verification or your sensitive account data. If you receive a request for account numbers or passwords, it’s best to confirm the source by contacting your bank or the government agency directly.
- Protect your computer. Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software, plus a firewall, on your computer. Update your internet browser and your operating system whenever requested by the browser or manufacturer; if you have any doubt about the legitimacy of an update request, contact the manufacturer directly.
- Data breaches can happen. You have no control over how carefully a company protects its networks and databases from hackers. If you are notified that your data has been breached, continue to monitor your credit and other data carefully by regularly viewing your credit reports.
- Check your statements. Closely review your bank and credit card statements each month to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions. A thief could have obtained your credit card information in any number of ways. Call your credit card company or bank immediately when you spot fraud.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Report stolen or lost cards immediately to your banking institution. Laws limit how much fraud you are responsible for, but most institutions will not hold a customer liable for any amount of fraud if supported with the proper documentation, such as a police report or a fraud affidavit. Call your financial institution and ask them about what documentation they need to process a fraud claim.