5 on Your Side

What's in YOUR wallet??

Posted March 26, 2010 11:00 a.m. EDT

What's in your wallet right now?  If someone steals it, will you be a quick and easy target for identity theft?  We all HEAR about it happening to people-- but we don't think much about protecting ourselves until we become a victim!

The BBB says last year.. more than 11 million Americans were impacted by I-D theft-- to the tune of $54 billion!
Since the agency keeps hearing from more and more victims-- they put out this reminder of ways to keep it from happening to you!

1. Don’t fall for phishing e-mails: Phishing is when con artists use e-mail or phone calls to pose as a trustworthy organization in order to coerce sensitive information from victims. The e-mails look legitimate with graphics and official logos of banks, government agencies or credit card companies. They usually include hyperlinks that direct the victim to a Web site designed to install viruses and malware or solicit bank account and Social Security numbers.

2. Create strong passwords and protect them: Regularly changing passwords makes it much more difficult for ID thieves to steal personal information. Attributes of a secure password include a combination of numbers, capitalized letters and even symbols. Never use sensitive information for a password such as a social Security number or birthday.

3. Be safe and secure when on the go. Be wary of entering passwords or sensitive information into a computer that isn’t yours. . Hackers can actually record their keystrokes to learn passwords.

4. Guard personal computers with anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protection. You can buy it, or download a number of reputable, free programs online.

5. Transfer personal information over a secure server online. The URL for a secure server will have an "s" either in front of or following the "http," and it will look like this: https://www.###.com or shttp://www.###.com.

6. Do not give out your personal information over the phone, mail or Internet unless you INITIATE the contact or know with whom you are dealing.

7. Carry only what you need in your wallet. Your Social Security number or card , and extra credit cards-- should be left at home, in a secure place.

8. Properly dispose of your trash and mail. SHRED statements that contain private financial information-- even throw out the remnants in separate trash cans. Also, shred ATM, credit card and other receipts.

9. Monitor your credit reports on a regular basis. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It's a good idea to review one of the three company reports every four months.

10. Review your credit and debit card statements regularly.
Any unfamiliar purchases should quickly brought to the attention of the credit card company.


About this Blog:

In addition to the stories you see on TV, Monica is always looking for ways to help consumers find deals and avoid fraud. She'll blog about what you need to know here.