Information security breaches have become commonplace – from large retailers, to government entities to credit bureaus, it is almost impossible to completely protect your personal information. The good news is, as cybersecurity threats have increased, so have the ways to mitigate or limit your exposure to someone trying to steal your identity. Use these helpful tips to keep your information and identify safe.
Do not carry your social security card
Your social security number is the gateway to your identity. In combination with any of your other critical information is all a criminal needs to take over your identity. To be on the safe side, memorize the number and don’t carry it with you. Keep it in a locked safe, safe deposit box or somewhere where it would be difficult to locate. Also, be very diligent when providing your social security number to others. It is required for certain transactions like opening a bank account or applying for credit. But, it is not necessary in most other cases. So even if asked for it, question why and decline to provide unless absolutely required.
Federal law allows every consumer free access to their credit report once a year. The only official site for this service is: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. You can access to your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. By reviewing your credit report, you will be able to tell if credit has been opened in your name without your knowledge.
In addition, a variety of different companies offer credit monitoring services for a fee. Most of these services offer near real-time monitoring for all three bureaus. This means that you’ll be notified, usually within minutes, if someone applies for credit or tries to open a bank account using your social security number. Stopping ID theft early is crucial in limiting its impact.
Every time you shop online or register for a website or service, you provide some type of personal information. Whether it’s a phone number and email address or your physical address and your credit card number, you are supplying these companies with sensitive information. Try to limit the amount of information you provide and never provide it if it is optional.
Use the tips above to minimize your risk and help protect your identity. If you think your personal information has been compromised, please call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878.