Nowadays we keep hearing people say they don’t trust the Internet to make their transactions, fearing identity theft, but your identity can even be stolen from yoru very own mailbox! The truth is there are many more cases of identity theft from mailboxes and paper statements than from Internet transactions. The good news is you can greatly minimize your risk, just by being careful and using some good old common sense. Just follow these steps to greatly reduce your risk of identity theft:
- Don’t leave a trail. Don’t leave your ATM, credit or debit card receipts behind; take them with you and destroy them. Don’t leave your mail in your mailbox for too long or better yet, get a mailbox or post office box that you can lock with a key.
- Destroy the evidence. Before throwing away an account statement, a credit offer or any other document that contains your personal information, tear it up or shred it. An excellent way of minimizing your risk is by receiving e-Bills instead of paper statements. The less account statements in your mailbox, the less you risk identity theft.
- Be private. Don’t give out your personal information to just anybody. If anyone contacts you asking for your personal information, be skeptical and ask exactly who they are, what company they represent and the reason for the call. If you are suspicious, call the company yourself to verify that they are the ones calling and they have a genuine need for your information. Don’t carry around your Social Security card with you and be very careful who you give your number to.
- Be vigilant. Keep an eye on your credit card at all times. Watch the cashier while he or she is processing your card payment. If this is not possible, pay in cash.
- Monitor. Check your account statements weekly and monitor your credit history to verify that all transactions have been authorized by you. You can request a free annual credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Don’t reply to suspicious emails. Don’t give out your presonal information via email or click on links if you are not completely sure who sent it. Learn to identify suspicious emails.
- Change your passwords frequently and don’t use your Social Security number, name, address or birth date. To make your password more secure, use many characters and a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation marks.
- Take note of the details. Whenever you are entering your credit or debit card in an e-commerce website, make sure there is an “s” at the beginning of its address (“https://”). This certifies the page is secure.
- Protect your electronic information. Install anti-virus and firewall protection in your computer, and erase all your information before discarding it or giving it away.
- Know who you’re dealing with. When making online purchases, make sure the site has a good reputation. In case you’re dealing with a company that is not as renowned as Amazon.com, get references from other people who have made purchases there or check out their ratings at the Better Business Bureau site.
Sometimes you just can’t prevent a case of identity theft, but you can always greatly reduce your risk by following these steps. And if you suspect you have been a victim of fraud, checking your account statements frequently will help you identify and report it immediately, minimizing the damage. If you are a Banco Popular customer, you can notify it by calling TeleBanco Popular at 787-724-3650 or free of charges at 1-888-724-3650.