Making Cents Blog

6 Simple Ways to Avoid Identity Theft

According to a study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, identity fraud increased by 13% in 2011, affecting more than 11.6 million adults in the United States. Despite these increases, there are ways to prevent identity theft with a few simple precautions. If you’re careful when disclosing information (more so online and over the phone) you’re not likely to run into trouble. For common tips on how to keep your information secure, check out our 6 ways to avoid identity theft.

Safeguard your wireless network
Password-protected wireless networks are set up for good reasons – to protect you and the information that you share online. Purchasing a pair of new shoes online with your credit card is harmless if you have a secure connection, but purchasing shoes on a shared network can put you at risk for identity theft. Public shared networks, such as coffee shops and libraries are not secure connections. This is an easy way for hackers to take your information and gain access to your accounts.

Follow your account activity regularly
Keeping up with your accounts is very important. Going two weeks without checking on your account activity can be harmful to your balance. A lot can happen in that amount of time, especially if someone has access to our credit card information.

Protect your social security number
Guard your social security number. Your social security number should only be given out in certain circumstances. If you don’t see a reason for someone to ask for your number, they probably don’t need it to do business. Also, do not carry your social security card on you. If it falls out of your purse or your wallet is stolen, your number is now easily accessible.

Watch out for phishing
Phishing is a way for identity thieves to obtain your information without you knowing it. They create websites that appear to be legitimate, or websites that look identical to well-known company websites to lure users to login or enter their information in their database. Many times, phishers will attract users by sending spam emails. If an email comes from an unknown email address, be sure not to click on any attachments or links included in the email.

Secure your statements
One of the most common ways that others can find your personal information is by stealing mail. Sometimes credit card statements offer enough information to allow someone to gain access to your account. It’s a good idea to switch to electronic bank statements that you can view online, or through your email. This is a secure way to keep your statement private, just be sure to log in using a secure network. If you do opt for paper statements, it’s highly recommended that you shred all documents if you throw them out.

Beware of suspicious phone calls
If you receive a phone call from someone promising extravagant vacations or a new car, it’s best to tell them “no, thank you.” Typically they will ask you for sensitive information in order to claim the gift. They will then use your information to get access to your accounts. It’s not uncommon for identity thieves to target elderly populations.

We hope that no one has to experience identity theft, but these strategies will surely help prevent any such problem in the future. It’s also important to remember that Alliance’s online and mobile banking services are very secure ways to manage your accounts. Our servers are always encrypted for our members’ security purposes, so your information is stored safely in our system.

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