Last year, more than 8
million Americans were victims of identity theft, resulting in the loss of more
than $37 billion.* As staggering as these numbers may seem, they represent a
decrease of nearly 30 percent compared to 2009. Americans are more aware now of
the dangerous threat ID theft poses, and they are taking
consumers, Better Business Bureau serving
Eastern North Carolina (bbb.org)
offers 10 everyday habits to help them protect their identity, online and
- Secure your personal documents at
Securing your personal documents at
home is always a good idea, especially if you have roommates, employ outside
help or are having work done in your house.
- Shred any
mail that you don’t want to keep.
This includes credit card applications,
insurance forms, financial statements, health forms and billing statements. Also
cut up expired credit and debit cards.
- Monitor your
bank and credit card transactions thoroughly.
Criminals with your account number
generally start with small transactions to see if you’ll notice.
- Protect your
Social Security number, all account numbers and
Don’t carry these numbers in your wallet. Also, minimize the
personal information you print on checks. You don’t need to include your Social
Security number, phone number or driver’s license number.
- Never respond to
emails requesting to “verify” your personal information and
Your bank, credit card company, online payment system, the
IRS—none of these organizations will call or email asking for your confidential
information. They already have it.
- Don’t create
Mix in some numbers with capital and lowercase
- Never use e-mail
to communicate sensitive personal information.
Examples of such personal information
are your user name, passwords, Social Security number or credit card number.
- Don’t use your
PDA or cell phone to store bank information.
Consumers should never store bank information such as
credit card numbers
or other financial information on their cellular devices.
- Keep your
computer system and browser software up to date and set the highest security
level you can tolerate.
Back up your data regularly on a separate storage device and
never store passwords or financial information on your hard
- Check your credit
report at least once per year.
There is only one source authorized
to give you ONE FREE annual credit file disclosure per year from each of the
three consumer reporting companies. Call 877.322.8228 or visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
If an ID or credit card is lost or stolen,
consumers should immediately notify their credit providers by phone and then
notify each of the three credit bureaus to discuss if placing a “Fraud Alert” on
your file is necessary. This alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures
before they open new accounts in the consumer’s name or make changes to existing
accounts. Here is contact information for the three credit
Equifax: 800.525.6285 or www.equifax.com
Experian: 888.397.3742 or www.experian.com
TransUnion: 800.680.7289 or www.transunion.com
can affect anyone at anytime and can take extensive time to resolve,” says Toby
Barfield, president and CEO of BBB Serving Eastern North Carolina. “Practicing
these simple habits are a great first line of defense against ID
further assist members of the community, BBB is hosting its
semi-annual “Secure Your ID” Day. The event will take place on
Saturday, April 16, 2011. Free document shredding and ID protection tips will be
offered from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Coastal Federal
Credit Union, located off Wake Forest Road at 1000 St. Albans Drive, Raleigh, NC
27609. Visit www.easternnc.bbb.org/secure-your-id.