Identity Theft Fraud Prevention
Fight Identity Theft – Here’s How
- Read your credit reports. You have a right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order all three reports at once or order one report every four months. To order, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Read your bank, credit card, and account statements and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan. If a statement has mistakes or doesn’t come on time, contact the business.
- Shred all documents that show personal, financial, and medical information before you throw them away.
- Never provide personal financial information, including your Social Security number, account numbers, or passwords, over the phone or the internet if you did not initiate the contact.
- Never click on the link provided in an email you believe is fraudulent. It may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.
- Do not be intimidated by an email or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information.
- If you believe the contact is legitimate, go to the company’s website by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously book marked, instead of a link provided in the email.
- Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.
- If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has “https” at the beginning of the web address; “s” is for secure.
- If you use a public wireless network, don’t send information to any website that isn’t fully encrypted.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall on your computer.
- Set your computer’s operating system, web browser, and security system to update automatically.
- If you fall victim to an attack, act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institution. Place fraud alerts on your credit files. Monitor your credit files and account statements closely.
What To Do If You Fall Victim
- Contact your financial institution immediately and alert it to the situation.
- If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a freeze on your credit, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau’s fraud division:
- Report suspicious emails, calls or contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the internet at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
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