February 9, 2010
Try these tips to protect yourself and your family from potential financial predators.
- Change your passwords. You should routinely change your passwords for your different accounts (even the little-used ones). Be sure you don’t use the same password for every account you open as predators who find out one password can attempt using the same password to gain access to your other accounts.
- Destroy the evidence. Be sure to completely destroy unneeded documents that contain personal information about you. You may want to start with the unsolicited junk mail with your name and address daily and move up to important financial documents like credit card applications, account statements that are no longer needed, and even school and unused financial aid paperwork.
- Utilize anti-spyware and anti-adware programs on your computer to your advantage. Some internet providers offer free or discounted anti-spyware and virus protection packages for their subscribers, see if yours does.
- Never give your personal information like driver’s license number, social security numbers, and the like over the phone to unsolicited callers. Sometimes thieves may even ask for something simple, to verify that the information they already have is correct such as your billing address for a stolen credit card, so it’s important to use caution with unexpected calls.
- Review your credit report periodically. You’ll want to check for any errors or accounts that may have been opened under your name without your consent.
- Monitor your bank and credit card statements closely. You’ll need to report any errors immediately, especially if you have found purchases made that you do not recognize. The sooner you do, the better chance you have at preventing future fraudulent purchases.
- Protect your personal information. From account numbers, to billing statements, to your tax filing copies, to your medical or dental papers, you’ll want to safely guard this information either in a secure filing system. Shred documents that are no longer needed.