Top 5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

February 13, 2019
By Jennifer Abernathy
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As long as I remember
The rain's been comin' down
Clouds of mystery pourin'
Confusion on the ground

Good men through the ages
Tryin' to find the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who'll stop the rain

Who’ll Stop the Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Today, data breaches are like rain. You know the rain will come. You know the rain will have an impact. You can’t stop the rain, but you can find the sun if you take the right steps. 

Criminals are coming up with new ways to attack and infiltrate personal data every day. They hack into email and social media accounts. They hack into businesses. Once they have personal data, they can take out credit, access financial accounts and your personal information, and sell that information to others.

Data breaches are reported at an alarming rate, and millions are affected each year. Just last year, Marriott reported a breach that put 500 million people’s data at risk! It’s likely that most of us have had some personal information exposed; and if not, it’s likely it could happen in the future.

As your ally, we want to help you preserve the security of your assets, including your personal information. Maintaining data security is a shared responsibility. We strongly recommend that you actively take steps to oversee your accounts and keep your data secure.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Understand and look for signs of identity theft. You stop receiving statements or important documents. You apply for credit and it’s denied. Your credit card or bank account shows purchases you didn’t make (possibly even small “test” amounts).

2. Keep your contact information up-to-date with all financial institutions. If your contact info changes, it’s a standard practice to contact you at both the old and new address to confirm the change. You need your financial institution to be able to contact you in case a security issue arises or a transaction needs your approval.

3. Check your balance and investments regularly and often. Retirement and investment accounts often go unchecked for longer periods of time because you aren’t going to take the money out until later. Keep your eye on all of your accounts, even those with infrequent transactions.

4. Check your credit score and watch for new accounts or inquiries. Fraudsters may try to obtain credit in your name. You are entitled to one free credit report annually (go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com). There are options to purchase continuous credit monitoring where you can receive alerts. To learn more, see https://usa.gov/credit-reports.

5. Never share your passwords, passphrases, security question answers, or logins. Keep this information to yourself and in a safe place. Don’t make your security questions something that would be easily known about you.

As you can see, there are a number of actions you can take to help protect against or detect identity theft. Understand the signs and remain vigilant in overseeing your accounts. You can’t stop the rain, but you can take steps to find the sun.

To set up secure passphrases on your online accounts or review your recent account activity, click here.

The material in this blog is presented for informational purposes only. Millennium Trust Company performs the duties of a directed custodian, and as such does not sell investments or provide investment, legal or tax advice.

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