There’s no denying that the lightning-fast development of the Internet and huge jumps in technology in the past two decades have transformed how we handle day-to-day transactions, from banking and paying bills to shopping and booking trips. But with the good comes the bad: According to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2013 Identity Fraud Report, there was one incident of identity fraud every three seconds last year. And according to a recent report from the FTC, identity fraud topped its list of complaints for the fifth consecutive year. Identity fraud occurs when a thief steals confidential data – such as your credit or debit card number, Social Security number, usernames and passwords – and uses it to obtain credit, a loan, merchandise, etc. Identity thieves have plenty of schemes in their toolboxes. For example, one type of attack that’s growing in popularity is phishing. Say you received an email that appeared to be from your credit union or credit card company, asking you to confirm your username and password, account number, or some other sensitive information. You reply, thinking all is well, but in reality, you’ve unknowingly given your information to one of the bad guys.
- Be smart about who you share information with. For example, SAC Federal Credit Union or any other financial institution will never contact you to ask for your username, password, bank account number or Social Security number.
- Consider shredding your documents. Monthly statements, bills and other mail that might contain personal information should all be on your shred list. Guard your debit card, PIN and ATM receipts, and mail your bills in a secure Postal Service mailbox.
SAC Federal Credit Union offers free Shred Days. The next shred day is August 17, 2013, from 9 a.m. – Noon at our Blair No Frills Branch, 238 South 8th Street, Blair, NE 68008.
- Speak up. If you get a suspicious message, or if a check is lost or stolen, contact your financial institution immediately. Similarly, if you don’t receive a bill you’re expecting, call the biller to find out why.
- Monitor your credit score. Your credit report might be the first place you see fraudulent accounts open in your name. Get a free report at www.annualcreditreport.com and make sure all the accounts listed are yours.
- Be proactive. Use strong passwords for all accounts and work with a financial institution that has strict privacy policies and uses strong encryption for its online transactions.
- Make sure it’s at least 8 characters long
- Use numbers, symbols and case-sensitive letters
- Don’t include your username, real name or company name