Tips to Protect Your Identity

Thursday, October 10 at 09:25 AM
Category: Personal Finance

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft has topped its list of consumer complaints every year, for the last 12 years. Identity theft occurs when a criminal obtains and misuses someone’s personal information without permission, typically for economic gain. For many victims, it can result in drained bank accounts, poor credit, and a damaged reputation.

In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are tips to help consumers protect themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters, characters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
  • Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Protect your computer. Keep your computer’s operating system and applications up-to-date with the latest security patches and make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up-to-date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
  • Protect your email. Attempts by fraudsters to steal email account passwords are on the rise and can result in your personal information and contacts being accessed. Consider adding additional security features and account recovery options offered by some email services and Internet Service Providers.  Don’t forget to periodically change your email password.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking and e.Statements to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Use online banking to help protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank, such as purchases or transactions over a certain dollar amount.
  • Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at* Another reminder, make sure you have active and up-to-date security patches and virus protection on your computer before ordering your credit report.
  • Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  • Sign-up for IDProtect. Some Arvest accounts include IDProtect, an identity theft resolution service which includes credit file monitoring. If you become a victim of identity theft, experts will provide you with professional fraud resolution, helping you document damage and file necessary paperwork. IDProtect can also be purchased separately if your account doesn’t include this service.
  • Review additional information regarding cyber safety and identity theft at these sites.* and*

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Consumer Protection, Financial Education, IDProtect, Privacy and Security
JasonKnighte on 2/3/2014 at 11:08 PM

I will have to look into it a little bit more, but I should really be doing more to protect my own identity. I have never had any problems with it, but it would probably be pretty easy for someone to steal it, and I have heard that it can put you through a lot of stress. Jason.

*This comment has been edited by the blog admin.

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