When an individual’s identity is stolen, the victim’s financial health can be damaged and can take months, or even years, to repair.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming the next victim.
- Sign up for SELCO Online Banking. Once you’re set up, enable online banking alerts. With these settings enabled, you’ll be notified each time a transaction is made (or declined). If you notice a transaction you didn’t make, contact us right away. If you have credit cards or accounts with another financial institution, monitor those as well, and notify them if you detect suspicious activity.
- Monitor your credit. One of the best preventative measures against identity theft is monitoring your credit. You can check your credit score and order an annual report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) from their websites or at AnnualCreditReport.com. Check your score for any new hits and look through your reports for suspicious activity. It’s also a good idea to review your monthly credit card bills for any charges you don’t remember making.
- Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports. If you don’t foresee any upcoming large purchases, such as a home or a car, consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit reports. This can prevent criminals from obtaining credit in your name. This service is free, and you can do it yourself. If you have been the victim of fraud, file a local police report and a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Consider setting up an IRS account. If you do so with your Social Security number, it will prevent criminals from establishing an account using your identity. You may also lock your Social Security number, which can be done here.
- Shred old documents and keep personal information secure. While most modern-day identity theft begins over the internet or through phone calls, lots of criminals still use old-fashioned means (like pieces of mail with personal information on them) to get the information they need. It’s best to shred all documents containing sensitive information as soon as you don’t need them. Also, be hyper-cautious about sharing and storing sensitive data, like your Social Security number and banking PINs.
Identity theft can be an expensive nightmare. Be proactive about protecting your identity and keep your information and your money safe.