National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. American Consumer Credit Counseling and Talking Cents would like to do our part by providing information and resources that can help consumers in that regard. Today we’re helping you prevent identity theft.
Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
- Secure your devices: Add password protection to any computer, tablet, or mobile device.
- Avoid unsafe websites: If you receive an email with an unfamiliar link, do not click on it. Even if it appears to be sent from your bank or credit card company. Scammers are able to design emails and websites that look legitimate, but their only aim is to gather your personal information for fraudulent use. You can recognize an unsafe website by seeing obtrusive ads and pop-up windows. They also may ask you to install something. Do not do it.
- Do not give out personal information: The unsafe websites mentioned above will ask you to enter things like your account numbers, pin numbers, email addresses, and other personal information that they can use to access your accounts, or open new accounts in your name.
- Shred your private documents: Account statements and bills that contain your account numbers and personal information should be shredded before you throw them away. Dumpster diving is an old technique for thieves, but it is still done.
- Monitor your accounts and your credit report: Check your statements for any suspicious activity, and pull your credit reports at least once a year to look for any errors or unfamiliar accounts in your name.
Any misinformation about you or fraudulent accounts in your name can severely damage your credit report, and thus your ability to obtain lines of credit in the future. This includes car loans, credit cards, and mortgages. Protect yourself from identity theft with these tips.
You can download more helpful tips and materials by visiting ACCC’s Identity Theft Resource Page.