It's that time of year when everyone is out walking the trails or attending special events and leaving their purse or wallet left unattended in vehicles. Think again before leaving anything in your vehicle as this is the time of year police really see an increase in vehicle break-ins. Before leaving home only grab what you need and that will fit in your pockets.
protect yourself with a few simple steps
Go digital. By paying bills online, you reduce the risk that checks and statements containing personal information may be stolen by identity thieves. And have your paycheck deposited electronically into your account.
Monitor accounts online and frequently. Use Lake Elmo Bank's and other financial institutions' websites to check for signs of fraud, and report suspicious or unauthorized activity immediately. Consumers with 24/7 access to account activity are most likely to uncover fraud the fastest.
Install and update security software. Make sure you have a firewall, antispyware, antivirus software, and browser security software on your home computer.
Never give personal information to callers. Don't respond to phone messages that prompt you to call another telephone number about your account. Similarly, don't send account information via e-mail messages--they're not secure. Don't respond to unsolicited or strange emails. Use contact information you already have for the financial institutions with which you do business.
Shred it. Get rid of sensitive papers and statements you no longer need that contain personal information.
When online don't click on any links within a pop-up as they can load a virus onto your computer or mobile device. Don't shop on unknown sites. Research the online merchant first to see if there are any complaints against them.
Finally, change a few daily habits. Mail bills from a locked mailbox; secure sensitive mobile data stored on a laptop, PDA (personal data assistant) or phone; and don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet unless you need it for a specific purpose on that given day. A stolen wallet that contains a Social Security card--as well as your address and other forms of identification--is like handing over your identity to a thief.
what you can do if you fall victim
Contact your financial institution immediately and alert it to the situation. If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing* attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau's fraud division:
Order your free credit reports. A regular review of your credit file may detect unauthorized accounts or other fraudulent activity. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to order one free report per year from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
Click here for a website that will provide you with some additional information on what steps you should take right away!
beware of scams
For more information on the latest scams and how to protect yourself from identity theft, click on any of the following links:
►Check out the latest Scams
►Identity Theft Resources
►How to Guard Against Internet Thieves