Along with the convenience of online shopping, mobile banking and constant access to email and social networking sites, our increasingly virtual world also brings a heightened risk of identity theft. As consumers, we frequently swipe credit cards, enter social security numbers and provide license numbers in order to authenticate ourselves as credible clients.
All the while, predators construct sophisticated methods of using even the smallest amount of personal data to gain complete access to all of our information. While we are powerless to stop the illegal efforts of would-be hackers and identity thieves, we can take some easy measures to secure our personal data.
Use common sense
From childhood, we are taught it is unsafe to trust strangers. The same applies to identity protection – do not give your ATM/debit cards or credit cards to anyone. Always avoid paying by credit card if you suspect the business does not use adequate safeguards to protect your personal information, and when shopping online, don’t disclose credit card or other financial account numbers unless the web site offers a secure transaction.
Better safe than sorry
Never be afraid to contact your financial provider whenever you have a question or concern. If you applied for a credit card and didn’t receive it when expected, call the financial institution. Upon receiving a new credit card, sign it directly. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately. Keep the phone numbers on the back of your credit cards handy so you can cancel them quickly if needed. Remember to keep an eye on expiration dates. Contact the issuer if you don’t receive a replacement prior to the expiration date.
“Out of sight out of mind” should never apply to credit cards
Make sure to cancel all unused credit card accounts. Even though you do not use them, their account numbers are recorded on your credit report.
Enroll in electronic statement delivery if you feel comfortable doing so; electronic statements are harder to steal than paper ones.
Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service
Fifth Third Bank offers Fifth Third Identity AlertSM to help you secure your important personal data. Fifth Third Identity Alert may be available to you at a discount or even complimentary. Contact your Fifth Third Bank to learn more.
While these steps cannot guarantee you invulnerability, you can certainly minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
For more information on how you can protect your identity and financial well being, contact your Fifth Third Bank advisor.