National Financial Literacy Month – Avoiding Identity Theft

Avoiding Identity Theft

Identity theft is a growing problem and can be as simple as someone stealing your mail or peering over your shoulder while you’re at the ATM. As technology has improved more complex methods such as skimming and phishing are being used which create an even greater risk for people who shop online or use their debit or credit cards for purchases.

Skimmers use an electronic device to steal credit cards or bank account information and this device is used when you’re making a purchase at a store or gas station. Phishers create websites similar to legitimate businesses and then send emails to people luring them into using their personal information on the website.

One of the best ways to keep an eye out for identity theft is to look over your bank or credit cards statements for any unusual charges and check your credit once a year for errors. It’s important to try and catch identity theft in its early stages and some ways you can reduce your risk are:

  • Protect your mail – cancel your mail delivery when you go out of town and to reduce the amount of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers you receive by going to
  • Protect your trash – be sure to shred any documents that might have sensitive information like bank statements, receipts and credit card or insurance offers.
  • Protect your social security number – never carry your social security card around with you and be careful who you give your social security number out to.
  • Protect your credit/debit cards – write “photo ID required” in place of your signature and be sure to have your credit and debit card numbers written down in a secure place in case your wallet is stolen so you can cancel everything quickly.
  • Protect your computer – never give your personal information out via email and change your passwords frequently.
  • Protect your deceased relatives – be sure to notify all financial institutions, loan holders, and credit card and insurance companies when a loved one has passed to avoid their identity being stolen.

Identity theft can be devastating and could take years to clear your name and build your credit back. Knowing about the problem and ways you can reduce your risk is important, so stay informed and do whatever you can to protect your sensitive information.

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