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What steps should I take to protect my passwords, PINs, and personal identification information?

Financial, identity, and health care identity fraud are some of the fastest growing forms of fraud. Here’s an area where you can really take charge of your own safety:

Passwords and PINs

Since everyone knows you should never share either your passwords or PINs with anyone, here are a few things you might not know to strengthen your defense:

  • Change your passwords frequently.
  • Create individual passwords for every device and every account.
  • Avoid common passwords, like “password”, “1234”, etc.
  • If you have to write down your passwords, keep them in a safe place and not readily available to your family or co-workers.

Personal Information

  • Review and protect your credit scores: review and check your scores with each of the three credit agencies on a regular basis – Experian, Equifax, TransUnion.
  • Monitor all of your brokerage, bank, credit card statements, health insurance benefit statements, and medical bills monthly. If there is anything you don’t recognize, immediately contact the appropriate institution.
  • Safeguard your documents in a lock box or locking filing cabinet in your home: store all extra checks, deposit slips, Social Security Card, canceled checks, and any credit cards you don’t need to carry with you on a daily basis.
  • Safely destroy financial sensitive information by shredding old account documents – brokerage, credit cards, checking and savings account statements; old social security statements, all credit card mail offers; and all tax documents older than seven (7) years.
  • Promptly track all incoming and outgoing mail. Do not let your outgoing mail sit in your residential mailbox.
  • Track the time of month you should receive your monthly bills; if they stop arriving, be proactive in contacting the company, review your monthly statements and make sure you can account for all of the bills on your statement. Immediately alert the company of any unidentifiable purchases.
  • Report any lost or stolen credit cards and ATM cards immediately. Carry the 800 numbers of your bank and credit card company with you; never store the card numbers in your portfolio, phone, laptop, or tablet. Close accounts that you do not use.