Practical Steps to Help Prevent Identity Theft
Identity thieves are constantly looking for new ways to obtain personal and financial information such as credit cards or Social Security numbers. There is no perfect way to completely protect yourself against identity theft, but here are 10 practical steps you can take to make it harder for identity thieves.
- Guard your social security number and don’t carry your card with you. If you are asked for your number, ask why it is needed and how it will be protected. If possible, only provide the last four digits instead of the entire number.
- Freeze your credit with all three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This will restrict access to your records so new credit accounts cannot be opened without your permission.
- Be wary of phone calls that appear to come from government agencies or businesses, and emails that look legitimate. Instead of providing information, call the agency back or email them directly using the information found on their official website.
- Review your financial statements and credit reports Make sure every transaction listed is accurate on your financial and bank account statements. The same is true for your credit reports. The three major credit reporting bureaus are giving consumers access to a free credit report weekly until April 20, 2022.
- Use strong passwords and add an authentication step. Don’t reuse old passwords and don’t rely on security questions to keep your accounts safe. Your mother’s maiden name and your pet’s name are easy passwords to figure out. Create passwords that include lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Use alerts to receive a text or email when transactions are made on your accounts. Argent has a great service called CardValet that provides alerts on transaction amount, location, and merchant type when your debit card is used.
- Protect your mobile devices by keeping them locked, password-protected, and your antivirus software current and updated. Be wary of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Even though a network requires a password, doesn’t mean it’s secure.
- Use a banking app rather than a mobile browser. To download the Argent App, visit the App Store or Google Play.
- Shred your credit card, bank, or investment statements! Shred any document containing personal or sensitive information as well as any junk mail with a pre-approved offer for credit.
- Don’t overshare on social media. Use privacy controls so information like your birth date, your employer or your family members isn’t publicly accessible.