Identity Theft Awareness Week is February 1-5, and in the second part of our series, we want to focus on steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. There are a variety of ways your information could become compromised, so be sure to take proactive steps to keep your personal information safe.
- Use strong passwords: Passwords are your first defense against identity thieves. Use long passwords, include numbers and special characters where possible, and change them frequently. Don’t include your name or birthdate, and be sure to change your password if you suspect it has been compromised.
- Mix up your passwords: Identity thieves count on victims using the same password across multiple devices and financial accounts. Use a variety of passwords, and change them regularly.
- Avoid suspicious links and websites: It’s common for fraudsters to use shady websites, links and email attachments to gather personal information from victims. Never click a link or attachment from someone you don’t know, and use caution browsing websites you don’t recognize. Never enter usernames and passwords on unfamiliar login screens.
- Don’t give out your information: Fraudsters often pose as legitimate organizations requesting your personal information, such as social security number and bank information. No company or organization will ever call you asking for personal information.
- Check your credit report: Check with a credit monitoring agency such as Experian, Equifax or Transunion to see your credit report for any discrepancies. If you believe identity theft has occurred, you can also set up a fraud alert to notify you in the event of a security breach or suspicious activity.
- Protect documents: Limit the amount of physical records you keep by shredding unnecessary documents, mail and receipts. Store documents in a safe place, and don’t leave sensitive information out in the open.
- Limit your exposure: Don’t carry your social security card or more credit cards than necessary in your wallet. If stolen, the impact will be less severe. Additionally, be careful visiting websites you are not familiar with and use caution when making online purchases.
As we go through Identity Theft Awareness Week, we will provide resources you can use as identity theft adapts to the changing financial landscape. As always, resources are freely available at the FTC website and The Village Bank Security Center.
If you feel you have fallen victim to identity theft, please contact The Village Bank immediately at (617) 969-4300 and report the identity theft by clicking this link. At The Village Bank, we are committed to protecting your privacy. We pride ourselves on maintaining confidential information with the utmost respect and integrity.