A common adage is that the best defense is a good offense. With the increasing frequency of fraud reports and data breaches, it’s critically important for consumers to educate themselves and keep personal information under control. A watchful eye on your financial accounts can save you untold stress.
A few easy steps can protect you. Take the advice of those who track and guard against fraud to keep yourself safe.
- Shred, shred, shred. What should be shredded? Anything with your name, address, Social Security number, email, or financial account information, or any billing information. Be smart: Shred it all.
- Don’t give out personal information on the phone unless YOU initiated the phone call. If someone you don’t know calls you and asks for personal information, end the call without sharing your information.
- Lock your Social Security card in a steel box in your home. It is the key item thieves use to access your accounts, create new accounts in your name, etc.
- Don’t ever send any personal account information – like passwords – through email. Not even to your spouse. Email interception is easy and passwords within email unlock your data like dominos falling. Remember, an email is out of your control once you send it.
- Use different passwords, hopefully using best-practice password safety, for all your accounts. Some people simply use “password” or “abc123” for all their email and banking accounts. Be smart; use different passwords for each account; create airtight passwords.
- Review your accounts regularly – daily or weekly – to verify that no unauthorized transactions have taken place.
- Sign for purchases made with credit or debit cards.
- Check your credit score to ensure that the activity cited is yours. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 877-322-8228.
- Before disposing of a computer, “wipe” the hard drive. Deleting files is not enough to eradicate sensitive information. There are services that can do it for you.
- Install anti-virus, anti-spyware, or firewall security software on your home computers.
- Limit the credit cards or ID that you regularly carry.
- When ordering checks, arrange to pick them up from the post office or have them delivered to a secured mailbox.
At Nusenda Credit Union, we have policies and procedures in place to protect your card and transaction data:
- We constantly monitor our members’ credit card and Visa® Debit Card accounts and flag suspicious activity. When appropriate, we contact you to verify the purchase, and, if necessary, block or close the account.
- We protect your data through multiple layers of security, above mandated state or federal regulations. External examiners evaluate our systems and identify ways to protect your data. The credit union’s network program monitors and protects your card information against fraud and theft using the industry’s most sophisticated technology.
- In the rare case of your credit card or Visa Debit Card data being compromised, fraud losses on those accounts are protected by Visa’s and MasterCard’s Zero Liability Policies.
If you feel that your personal financial information has been compromised, immediately call 505-889-7755 (800-347-2838 outside the Albuquerque area). If crooks get your personal data, they can open new credit lines, access bank accounts or even apply for official documents like a driver’s license or passport—all in your name.
To avoid being a victim of this type of fraud, you need to protect your personal information, online and off. It can take months or years to repair the damage if your name and credit are compromised. Some people have even been arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.
It’s best to protect yourself, early and often.
For more on protecting yourself, review these resources on identity fraud and scams.
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