NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Identity Theft Continues

Identity Theft Continues

 

                The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace. Protecting your personal information can help reduce your risk of identity theft.

                - At Home: Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work. Keep your information secure from roommates or workers who come into your home. Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer. Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out.  Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.  When you order new checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.

                Out and About: Limit what you carry. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home. Make a copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last four digits on the copy. Carry the copy with you - unless you are going to use your card at the doctor’s office.  Before you share information at your workplace, a business, your child's school, or a doctor's office, ask why they need it and how they will safeguard it.

                Be Alert to Impersonators:  Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement. Ask whether the company really sent a request.

                Safely Dispose of Personal Information:  Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.

Before you dispose of a mobile device, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device. Remove the memory or subscriber identity module (SIM) card from a mobile device. Remove the phone book, lists of calls made and received, voicemails, messages sent and received, organizer folders, web search history, and photos.

                Keep Passwords Private: Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative: think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could become 1W2CtPo.

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