When it comes to identity theft, you can't control whether you will become a victim. However, there are certain steps you can take to minimize recurrences.
How to Protect Yourself - You should guard the two pieces of information that credit thieves are most interested in - credit card numbers and Social Security numbers. With your credit card number, a thief can charge items to your account and with your Social Security number, they can start to build a "new" you and run up large bills.
- Carry as few credit cards as possible and keep them secure. You should also be cautious with credit card receipts and anything with your account number on it. After using your credit card, be sure to take your copy. At restaurants, you may want to stay at your table until the waitress takes your signed copy.
- Sign new credit cards immediately when you receive them.
- Review each month's credit card statement immediately. If there are transactions that appear odd, or you don't recall making, contact the issuing company immediately. Often, a call to the credit card company will clear up any unknown items.
- If there has been unauthorized use of your card, notify the credit card company immediately over the phone and in writing. Your liability will be reduced or eliminated by making the call and writing the letter.
- Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) secure. Never give your PIN over the phone for any reason and dispose of ATM receipts properly.
- Beware of online phishing scams. Phishing refers to a scam where unsuspecting users receive emails from seemingly reputable institutions asking for personally identifiable materials. Phishing emails might pose as your bank or the IRS and include logos of those institutions in order to fool you into sharing credit card and social security numbers.
- Guard your Social Security number. Never have it printed on your checks and avoid carrying your Social Security card.
- Review your credit record annually. The three major credit agencies will provide a copy of your report for a minimal fee. An annual review should help disclose any unauthorized accounts and you will be able to see what lenders see when you apply for credit.
- Create a strong password - at least 10 characters. Mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Try to be unpredictable - don't use your name, birth date, or common words. Please don't use the same password for multiple accounts and don't share your password over the phone, in texts or by email. Also, keep your passwords in a secure place, out of plain sight.
Tips to safeguard yourself from Phishing, Vishing and Smishing
- Never respond to unsolicited e-mails or text messages; especially coming from people or companies that you do not have a relationship with or regarding services you have not contracted for. Contact the financial institution or merchant via the regular channels you use to communicate with them.
- Remember, for privacy and security, financial institutions do not solicit non-public information from you.
- When you are accessing secure accounts online, make it a habit to check for the small yellow lock in your browser window. If it's unlocked - you are not in a secure area of the Website.
- If you receive a Vishing message, disregard the recorded number and contact your financial institution through the customer service phone number on your statement or credit card.
- Pay attention to the URL. Fraudsters cannot exactly mimic a company's website URL, but will often insert one letter or symbol to make it appear legitimate.
- Keep a record of services you sign up for on your mobile devices. If you receive a Smishing message for a service you don't think you signed up for - you probably didn't. Disregard the message.
- When in doubt, do not respond to an email, voicemail or text message regarding an account. Contact your financial institution through regular channels.
- If you receive multiple phishing, vishing or Smishing messages from a financial institution, bring it to their attention to help them uncover the fraud.
As a reminder, Campus Federal will never contact you via text message, e-mail, phone or any other way to ask for your account numbers or passwords. If you suspect you've been a victim of phishing, vishing, and smishing or any other form of ID theft, contact a Campus Federal representative immediately at 888-769-8841.
Learn more on how to protect yourself - visit one of the helpful links below:
- http://onguardonline.gov/ - the federal government's website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online.
- http://www.stopfraud.gov/ - official website for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. Anything you need to know about fraud and stopping fraud can be found on this website.
- http://www.identitytheftassistance.org/index.php - Identity Theft Assistance Center - helping victims and sharing knowledge with consumers and law enforcement to protect from fraud.
- http://www.staysafeonline.org/ - How safe is your Facebook account? Sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to promote safe behavior online. Excellent resources that include Educational Videos and a Free Security Checkup Portal
Phone numbers for the agencies:
There are no guarantees that some criminal will not try to use your identity for their purposes. As is the case for many risks we must take, using common sense and taking cautions ahead of time can reduce the risk the criminal will be successful.