As wealth advisors, we are vigilant about monitoring client accounts for possible fraud attempts. It’s become a cornerstone of our employee training and compliance procedures, especially as potential thieves are performing more sophisticated. Below are some precautions that the average consumer can take to also stand vigilant against possible identity theft attacks.
Check Statements Every MonthReview your bank, credit card, investment, and other financial statements to verify there are no unusual transactions. Thieves tend to start with small charges to see if they are caught before making large charges or withdrawals.
Monitor your Credit Report
Obtain and thoroughly review your credit report (check for a free copy at www.Annualcreditreport.com) at least once a year to check for suspicious activity. If you find something, alert your card company or the creditor immediately.
Consider freezing your credit with all three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to restrict access to your records so new credit lines cannot be opened.
Password ManagersUse strong passwords and add authentication steps whenever possible. There are password managers which can generate complex usernames and passwords for each site you use. Never reuse usernames or passwords. Always lock your computer and mobile device with a password when not in use. Avoid using public wi-fi where possible.
Shred Personal Information
Be sure to shred any documents or mail that contains personal identifiable information. Never leave ATM, credit card, or gas station receipts behind. Prior to disposing of medical containers, be sure to remove the labels, which contain names and addresses. Always shred preapproved offers of credit received as solicitations in the mail.
Keep Documents Safe
Consider investing in a fire-proof box to secure important documents at home. Only carry your social security card, passport, or health insurance card on you when it’s necessary.
Remove yourself from Marketing ListsIn addition to the national Do-Not-Call registry (1-888-382-1222), you can also cut down on junk mail and opt out of credit card solicitations. Try using a catalog opt out service, such as DMAChoice.org, Catalogchoice.org, or OptOutPrescreen.com.
Review Medical Benefits and Charges
Always review medical claims to be sure they match the benefits for services received. Sometimes thieves use medical identity theft to get medical care services, and it can become particularly dangerous because mixed medical histories are reported to doctors or hospitals when you receive care. Report any questionable charges to your insurance provider.
Avoid Oversharing on Social Media
Never post specific details about your name, children, children’s school, address, birthdays, or when you are away from your home. A good rule of thumb is to post vacation photos after you have returned home to avoid having someone know your home is unattended. Avoid accepting unknown friend requests on social media.
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Disclaimer: Information provided is for educational purposes only. Your advisor does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. In considering this material, you should discuss your individual circumstances with professionals in those areas before making any decisions. Further, your advisor makes no warranties with regard to such information or a result obtained by its use, and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or any tax position taken in reliance on, such information.