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Protect your P's: Passwords, PINs and Personal Identification Numbers
Remember when you only had a handful of numbers to remember? Address, home and office phone number? Or remember when … your parents or grandparents told you that the first thing they carried in their wallets was their Social Security number? That was then –
And this is now: Financial fraud, identity fraud and health care identity fraud are some of the fastest growing forms of fraud. While women used to worry about whether their slip was showing, the real worry today is about letting any of your financial, health care and identity information slip through.
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.
For other tips on how to build strength into your passwords: www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2368484,00.asp
- 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 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 1-800 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.
For more helpful information: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0272-how-keep-your-personal-information-secure