How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Identity theft is on the rise, and for the most part criminals tend to use these identities for online shopping. In 2016, identity theft hit a record of 15.4 million Americans, up 16% from 2015.

If you don’t want to be part of the more than $15 billion identity theft industry, here are some tips to help protect yourself.

Don’t Carry Unnecessary Information

Your social security card doesn’t belong on your person. It should be left at home in a safe or secure location. If your social security number is on your driver’s license, student ID or other card, have them reissued.

Clean out your wallet or purse often, removing seldom used credit cards and storing them in a safe. Also remove receipts or other papers with personal information and shred them.

Check Bank Statements/Credit Reports

Look over your bank and credit card statements once a week or so to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. If you notice something, notify your bank immediately.

Also utilize credit reports. You’re allowed one free credit report each year from each of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can stay on top of your credit all year round by requesting your credit check once every four months.

Use Secure Websites/Secure Your Devices & Accounts

When doing business over the internet, be sure to use a secure website. A web page with “HTTPS://” at the beginning – before the “www.”, like Sentry Bank – or a padlock symbol next to the address is a secure site, which means your information is encrypted and secure from hackers in transit and on the businesses end.

On your end, make sure your devices are protected with a firewall, virus and spyware protection. Also, change your passwords regularly to keep your accounts safe.

Keep An Emergency Contact List

Make a list of your credit card and bank account numbers along with the customer service lines for each and keep it in a safe place. If you do fall victim to identity theft, this list will make it quick and easy to put a hold on your accounts, preventing any additional fraudulent charges.

Contact Sentry Bank if your bank accounts have been compromised. Also contact your local police department to report identity theft or fraud of any type.