BBB Tip of the Week: 10 Steps To Protect Your Identity

BBB Shred DayThis week’s tip is a bonanza – 10 tips on protecting your identity. We’re doing this to highlight BBB’s Shred Day on Saturday, April 18 from 8 a.m. to noon at Saint Louis Galleria and the Edwardsville Schnucks.

Shredding outdated documents can keep your sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. It’s an important step to take, but there’s more you can do to protect yourself from identity theft:

BBB has 10 steps you can take to protect your identity:

  1. Shred statements and applications you get in the mail that you don’t want to keep. These include credit card applications, insurance forms, financial statements, health forms, billing statements from utilities and phone service.
  2. Cut up expired credit and debit cards. Make sure you cut through the numbers.
  3. Protect your Social Security number, all account numbers and passwords.  Don’t carry these numbers in your wallet. Give out personal identifiers only when absolutely necessary. Beware of unsolicited e-mails and phone calls if someone asks for the numbers.
  4. Secure personal documents at home. If you have roommates, employ outside help or have contractors in your home, make sure personal documents are in a safe place – preferably under lock and key – and not lying out in plain sight.
  5. Minimize personal information printed on checks. You don’t need to include your Social Security number, driver’s license or phone number.
  6. Monitor bank and credit card accounts for unauthorized transactions. Crooks may start with small transactions to see if you notice.
  7. Pay attention to billing cycles. If bills don’t arrive on time, follow up with your creditors.
  8. Don’t create obvious passwords. Avoid using your birth date, child’s name or birth date, mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
  9. If you conduct business online, use your own computer and a secure Internet connection. A public computer or public wi-fi networks are less secure.
  10. Never use email to communicate sensitive personal information. Don’t respond to emails asking to verify your personal information and identifiers. Neither your bank, credit card company, online payment system nor the IRS will call or email asking you for confidential information. They already have it.

For more information on protecting your identity or to check out a BBB Business Review or charity report, contact BBB at www.bbb.org or 314-645-3300.

For more on Shred Day, read our press release.

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