Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
No one is completely safe from identity theft no matter how careful you are about protecting your personal information. Identity thieves can find many ways to obtain your personal information. There are three major ways how thieves obtain unauthorized access to personal information:
The most common technique used by internet scammers is email. They will send email messages that pretend to appear from legitimate organizations. These emails are designed to trick the recipient into responding with personal information, including account passwords. These messages may appear to come from your legitimate servicer provider, retailers, local utility companies or a government agency.
Through your mail and personal documents
Stealing wallets and purses containing credit cards, licenses and social security cards.
Stealing your mail. Stealing your trash (providing personal information)
Doing change of address form to divert your mail.
Unauthorized access of third party
This occurs when a company (such as a retailer) has your personal information and their computer system was hacked.
Steps to Minimize Risk from Identity Theft/ Fraud
- If you receive a suspicious or unsolicited email, do not:
- Reply to it
- Open any attachments or click any links
- Provide any information
- Forward the email
- Do not email your personal data unless you use encryption technology
- Do not give checking account information unless you are dealing directly with your bank’s website.
- Do not give out credit card numbers or other personal information unless you receive secure authentication key from your provider. You should see a lock in your browser window, as well as “https” in the browser window.
Telephone and Personal Information
- Carry minimal items in your wallet or purse
- Ensure your PIN numbers cannot be observed by anyone while you are using an ATM
- Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash cans or gas pumps
- Never give personal information to anyone who contacts you by phone, email or text messages. Do not rely on caller ID as thieves can make it appear the call is legitimate.
- Review bank accounts and credit card statements for unauthorized checks or charges
- Shred all bank and credit card statements and any other paperwork containing personal information.
- Do not put personal information on your checks. This includes driver’s license number, telephone number, social security number. I would also recommend using a P.O. Box as an address or use an alternative address. Do not use a middle name or a middle initial.
- Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers (go to www.optoutprescreen.com)
- Report lost or stolen credit/ debit cards immediately
- Use strong and unique passwords for each account
- Limit the use of your debit card
- Review your credit report
- Do not put outgoing mail in your mailbox. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office.
- Remove mail from your mailbox promptly after delivery.
- Do not respond to promotional solicitations that offer instant prizes and awards
These are a few tips to help protect yourself from identity theft. In a perfect world we would not have to worry about identity theft. However, throughout the Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okaloosa County, Walton County, Bay County, Crestview area and the surrounding Gulf Coast communities, residents have been targeted by scammers and identity thieves. Be careful! Follow some of these tips to help reduce the chance of being a victim.
If you have any questions please call Lewis & Jurnovoy, PA.