8 Tips for Safeguarding Your Information and Money

protecting information on computer

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. Fortunately, there are a number of practical measures that you can take to protect your financial information. Read on to learn 8 strategies for safeguarding your information and money.

1. Keep Your Secrets to Yourself

Keep your personal information personal. If you use social media, do not share any sensitive information on your accounts, as you never know who could see your profile. You should never give out your Social Security number or account information to someone who contacts you online or over the phone. Additionally, it is recommended that you use strong passwords (a combination of letters and numbers), change them regularly, and keep them private.

2. Destroy Sensitive Documents

man shredding important documentsInvesting in a shredder is a wise decision. Be sure to shred bank statements, receipts, unused credit card offers, and other sensitive papers before throwing them away.

3. Look Out for Missing Mail

Fraudsters tend to look for any mail that includes personal information, like monthly bank or credit card statements. If you notice missing mail, that could be a sign that someone might have taken it. Enrolling in online banking is one way to reduce the likelihood that your paper statements are swiped. If you do mail paper bills, it is better to drop them off at the post office rather than leaving them in your own mailbox with the flag up.

4. Take Advantage of Online Banking

In addition to cutting down on paper statements, online banking is a convenient way to regularly monitor your accounts for fraudulent transactions. Signing up for text or email alerts for major transactions can help you ensure that everything is fine. To learn more about online banking with Tennessee State Bank, click here.

5. Periodically Check Your Credit Report

A credit report.Experts suggest checking your credit report every four months to make sure that everything appears normal. Free credit reports can be obtained annually from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion at www.annualcreditreport.com.

6. Only Conduct Business on Secure Websites

When you visit a website, check to make sure that the web address starts with “https” and not “http.” The “s” signifies that the website is secure and is usually accompanied by a padlock symbol, which appears to the left of the web address. It is also imperative that web users have active and up-to-date virus protection software on their computer.

7. Be Smart with Your Smartphone

Always use the passcode lock on your smartphone, as this makes it harder for thieves to access your personal data if your phone is lost or stolen.

password on cell phoneIf you are planning on donating, trading, or selling your mobile device, be sure to wipe it first. The phone’s manufacturer will likely have a recommended technique for wiping the device and there are special softwares available for this purpose. Mobile users should exercise caution when downloading apps, as they can contain malware. Additionally, you should be careful when opening links and attachments from senders you don’t know.

8. Report Suspected Fraud Immediately

If you believe that you are a victim of identity theft, call your bank and credit card providers so they can close your accounts right away. Next, you should get in touch with the fraud unit of the three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report and a credit freeze (so the criminal can’t open new accounts). It is also recommended that victims report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) and file a police report. Make sure that you keep a detailed log of all the conversations you have with the authorities, including names, titles, and phone numbers.

Here are the phone numbers for the three credit bureaus where you can place a fraud alert:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

About Tennessee State Bank

Tennessee State Bank has been serving our local community for over 45 years. With branches in Sevier County, Knox County, Cocke County, and Jefferson County, we offer convenient banking services in East Tennessee. Whether you’re looking to open a checking account, obtain an auto loan, or apply for a home mortgage, we make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. Tennessee State Bank’s motto is “Banking at its Best!”SM, and we strive to live up to that creed every day. Let us know how we can help you by sending us a message via our Contact Form.

Tennessee State Bank is Member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.

“Protecting Your Identity.” American Bankers Association, https://www.aba.com/Consumers/Pages/Protect-ID.aspx