Straight Talk: Take steps to prevent identity theft
From the CantonRep:
The Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau offers tips and advice for Stark County consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
TODAY’S TOPIC: Minimizing the risk of identity theft
THE CONCERN: Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personally identifying information, such as Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers, and uses them for their own personal gain. It can start with a lost or stolen wallet, stolen mail, a data breach, computer virus, “phishing” scams or paper documents thrown out by you or a business.
HOW TO MINIMIZE YOUR RISK OF IDENTITY THEFT:
Unfortunately, we are not able to stop or prevent identity theft; however, there are steps consumers can take to minimize their risk of becoming an identity theft victim.
Don’t give out your Social Security Number unless it is necessary (only for tax reasons, for credit checks or to verify employment.) Be sure to understand why you are being asked to provide personal identifiers, know how they will be used and if they will be shared.
Use a cross-cut shredder to dispose of documents with personal information.
Place outgoing mail in collection boxes or the U.S. Post Office.
Know your billing cycles and contact creditors when bills fail to show up. Review bank and credit card statements carefully.
Password protect your financial accounts. A strong password should be more than eight characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non alphabetical character.
Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact.
Use firewall software to protect computer information. Keep virus and spyware software programs updated.
Review your credit reports often. Order your free annual credit reports online at: http://www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
LOCAL SHRED EVENT: Consumers and businesses are invited to bring their personal and financial documents to be commercially shredded.