As everything else in life continues to evolve so do criminals and their activity. We are warned daily that information on the Internet page we are viewing is often insecure, we have virus and identity theft security on our home computers and we take special caution when making purchases using our credit cards over the phone or online.
Every safeguard that you put into place to protect yourself, your finances and your identity is good, but while focusing on some of the more obvious places where there may be flaws or exposure that seem vulnerable to criminal activity, don’t forget to keep in mind the following simple tips to protect yourself from fraud.
- Only carry necessary information with you in your purse or wallet. Unused credit cards and your Social Security card should be left in a secure location.
- Photocopy both sides of the vital information carried with you and store the copy in a secure place in the event your wallet is lost or stolen (driver’s license, credit cards, bank cards, medical cards, etc.)
- Never provide anyone with your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary.
- Review your credit report at least once per year. You can obtain a free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. If you have suspicious or unknown transactions on your report, call the credit bureau immediately. If your credit cards are lost or stolen, call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number.
Equifax: (800) 685-1111 or www.equifax.com
Experian: (800) 397-3742 or www.experian.com
TransUnion: (800) 916-8800 or www.transunion.com
- Shred financial and personal documents and bills before disposing of them. Every home should have a shredder as most fraud and identity theft incidents happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
- Promptly retrieve incoming mail and place outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox to reduce the chance of mail theft.
- If your wallet is lost or stolen, file a police report in the jurisdiction where it was lost. This proves to credit providers that your incident is legitimate and proves you were diligent in the event of an investigation.
We are constantly bombarded with news regarding the latest scams and fraud alerts in our society, and it is important not to forget the simple steps toward protecting oneself. If there is anything we can advise you on regarding the security of your vital personal and financial information, call us at (309) 697-2100 and one of our customer service representatives will be happy to speak with you.