As technology grows and changes, protecting our information and assets has become a must. We would like to assure you that we go to great lengths to protect our clients and employees personal information, in doing so; we want to make sure you are also taking the correct measures to protect yourself. Let’s take a moment to review some simple steps you can take to protect both your business and your personal information.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Copy everything in your wallet and put in a secure place. If your wallet is stolen you will know exactly what was stolen and who to contact.
- Protect your PIN. Never write a PIN on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet.
- Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using payphones and ATMs.
- Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for more than a day or two.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Keep your receipts. Ask for carbons and incorrect charge slips, as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements, and watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, etc., to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work; don’t leave it lying around.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online.
- Strengthen passwords. Use at least eight characters, alpha numeric, symbols and upper/lower case.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
- Check your credit report at least once a year. Reviewing your credit reports help you catch signs of ID theft early. The following website will provide you a free copy of your report each of the three credit reporting agencies; Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Stagger your orders from the three agencies so that you get a free copy every four months; annualcreditreport.com.
- Consider using a credit monitoring service, click here for a list.
- Visit the FTC website for more information on 1. How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure; 2. Signs of Identity Theft; 3. Tax Related Identity Theft consumer.ftc.gov.
- Visit the IRS website at irs.gov and search “identity theft.”
How to Report Identity Theft
- Report it to your financial institution. Call the phone number on your account statement or on the back of your credit or debit card.
- Report the fraud to your local police immediately. Keep a copy of the police report, which will make it easier to prove your case to creditors and retailers.
- Contact the credit-reporting bureaus and ask them to flag your account with a fraud alert, which asks merchants not to grant new credit without your approval.
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285; equifax.com
- Experian 1-888-397-3742; experian.com
- TransUnion 1-800-680-7289; transunion.com
Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft
- Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1800-908-4490 and report the fraud.
- Send a copy of your police report or an IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form 14039 and proof of your identity, such as a copy of your social security card, driver’s license or passport to the IRS at the address where you normally file your returns.