According to a recent study by Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud reached $16.9 billion in 2019. As identity fraud continues to be a major threat, Englewood Bank & Trust is offering tips to help consumers proactively protect their information from identity thieves.
“More and more consumers are inadvertently becoming exposed to identity theft and fraud,” said Certified Information Security Manager Margo Leiter. “With threats at an all-time high, it is extremely important that consumers take extra precaution, making sure not to share passwords or identifying information with just anyone who contacts you online, over the phone or by mail.”
In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Englewood Bank & Trust offers the following 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. Set up two factor authentications whenever possible and don’t re-use passwords.
- Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- 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 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 protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
- Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. Consider putting a freeze on your credit.
- Protect your computer. 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 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. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know that you are not expecting.
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.