Don’t Lose Your Identity This December

Friday, December 05 at 11:20 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Here are some tips for how to avoid identity theft this holiday season whether you are shopping online or in stores.

(LOWELL, Ark.) – Not only is December one of the biggest shopping months of year, it’s also Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month.

With an increasing number of people shopping online in addition to traditional means, it is important consumers know how to help protect themselves from identity thieves. Falling victim to these attacks not only can ruin the holiday shopping experience, but it can have devastating effects on credit and bank accounts long after the holidays end. Unraveling the damage done could take months.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft is the No. 1 type of consumer fraud in the U.S., resulting in about 9 million people annually having their identity stolen.

Below are some tips created by the FTC that can help consumers avoid such an unfortunate event.

Keep tangible personal information documents secure. Lock financial documents and records in a safe place at home. Likewise, shred all documents that show personal, financial, and medical information before you dispose of them.

Limit what you carry. When you go out, only take the necessary documents – usually one form of identification and one credit or debit card. Leave other documents, including your social security card, in a safe place at home.

Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, make sure the web address begins with “https.” Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

Don’t respond to email, text, and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information this way. Delete the messages.

Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall on your computer. Also set your computer’s operating system, web browser, and security system to update automatically.

Create passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use the same password for more than one account.

Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Additionally, never store personal information on a public computer and always log out of anything that requires a password.

Encrypt your data. Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.

Read your credit reports. You have a right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order all three at once, or order one report every four months. To order, go to annualcreditreport.com* or call (877) 322-8228.

For more information on privacy and identity protection, visit www.ftc.gov* and look for the ‘Tips & Advice’ tab. Or if you’re interested in the kind of identity-theft protection that includes theft-resolution and file-monitoring services, Arvest offers Family IDProtect™ with some of its checking accounts. To learn more about Arvest Bank and its Family IDProtect™ product, visit www.arvest.com and select Family IDProtect™ under the ‘Personal’ tab.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Consumer Protection, Financial Education, Fraud Alert, IDProtect, Press Release, Privacy and Security
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