Guarding Against Identity Theft

There’s no way to completely eliminate any risk of someone fraudulently obtaining and using your personal information, but you can reduce the risk by exercising a little caution. Here are some suggestions from the Federal Trade Commission and the Identity Theft Resource Center on how to protect yourself:

  • Don’t put your Social Security number or your driver’s license on your checks.
  • Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox.
  • If you have a laptop computer, avoid storing financial information on it. If you do, use a strong password – a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Don’t use an automatic login feature that saves your user name and password so that you don’t have to enter them each time you log in or enter a site. And always log off when you’re finished. That way, if your laptop gets stolen, it’s harder for the thief to obtain your personal information.
  • Before you dispose of a computer, delete personal information. Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive. It makes the files unrecoverable.

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