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Precautionary Measures to Help Protect your Identity

Castle

Every day it seems like we hear of another data breach. In the middle ages you could protect yourself by building a higher wall to your castle. There are a number of routine precautionary measures you can take to help protect your identity and personal affairs in today’s electronic age.

  • Monitor financial account statements and immediately report any unusual or suspicious activity to your bank or credit union
  • Request a free credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. You are entitled by law to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus -Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – for a total of three reports per year. Contact information for the credit bureaus can be found on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, www.ftc.gov.
  • Review resources provided on the FTC identity theft website, www.identitytheft.gov. The FTC maintains a variety of consumer publications providing comprehensive information on computer intrusions and identity theft.
  • You may place a fraud alert on your credit file to let creditors know to contact you before opening a new account in your name. Simply call Trans Union at 1-800-680-7289 to place this alert. TransUnion will then notify the other two credit bureaus on your behalf.

How to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from people asking about you, your employees, your colleagues or any other internal information. If an unknown person claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
  • Do not give personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
  • Do not send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website’s security (for more information, see Protecting Your Privacy, http://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-013).
  • Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs .. net).
  • If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group (http://www.antiphishing.org).
  • Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic (for more information, see Understanding Firewalls, http://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-004; Understanding Anti-Virus Software, http://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-005; and Reducing Spam, http://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-007).
  • Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.

The FTC also encourages those who discover that their information has been misused to file a complaint with the FTC.


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Posted June 26, 2015