American Gateway Bank's Blog

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Congratulations on that new car purchase! 

Wait…what's that? You didn't just buy a new car???  Well someone with your name and social security number just did!  And I can pretty much guarantee you that they will not be making a single payment.  You were just victim to a growing problem:  Identity Theft. 

Criminals are getting smarter and smarter and are coming up with more clever ways to wreck your hard earned good credit.  It used to be that criminals only used your credit to open credit card accounts, now they are using your social security number to purchase vehicles, buy homes and even find work.

So how do you keep yourself safe?  How do you protect your identity? 

Here are a few tips to help you keep clean what you have worked so hard for:

Keep your personal information safe:

  • Keep personal and financial documents locked in a safe and secure place in your home.  When you go out, only take the financial pieces that you will need:  driver's license, debit card, credit card.  Ladies, when you keep financial information in your purse be sure to keep your purse either on your person or safely locked away when at work. 
  • When you are asked for personal information, ask why they need it; and ask how they plan to keep it safe.  With the rise in security breaches, you always want to be on the safe side of who has your personal information.
  • Always shred receipts and junk mail that may contain your personal information.  Take outgoing mail to the post office and drop it in their box instead of just leaving it inside of your mailbox.

Be safe online:

  • You should always make sure your virus protection is up to date.  Make sure that your subscription has not expired and that it is currently protecting your computer.  If you do not currently have an up to date virus protection, you can always look into loading a free version like AVG.
  • Keep your passwords private; do not share your passwords with others.  Always establish safe, complex passwords.  Passwords should use a variation of letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Be sure that when browsing the internet that your browser is secure.  Always look for "https:" in the address bar.  A "lock" icon on the status bar means your information is secure.

These are just a few tips on how to keep your personal information safe and keep you from being a victim of Identity Theft.  It is also a smart idea to view your credit report on a regular basis.  You may even want to subscribe to some sort of credit monitoring service.  American Gateway Bank offers IDProtect® as a free service with some of our personal checking accounts.  For more information, visit our Education Page or one of our 10 branch locations.

Posted by Edwin Lagarde at 12:19