Identity theft has always been a top consumer concern. However, with Equifax’s massive data breach earlier this year and Uber’s last month, discussion on the topic has spiked throughout American households.
December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month and aims to help consumers protect themselves against future data breaches and identity theft. While there is no bulletproof solution to identify theft, there are steps to take to ensure consumers are protecting themselves to the best of their ability.
Therefore, this December, Community Bank N.A. recommends taking a hard look at your personal security and following the steps below to help prevent identity theft:
• Shred non-critical documents. Shredding personal documents is crucial to protecting your identity against theft and fraud. Important documents to shred include financial statements, personal documents, credit-card offers, employee pay stubs, ATM receipts, and any items with a signature.
• Protect your personal information. Don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you’ve initiated the contact or know whom you are dealing with. That includes phone calls, e-mails, and online contacts.
• Give your passwords a difficulty boost. Create hard-to-guess passwords that cannot be found in the dictionary, have at least eight characters, and include a mix of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters.
• Pay attention to your bills. Follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time. A missing credit-card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit account and changed your address.
• Stay alert. Be cautious when using ATMs or your debit card at checkout — someone could be looking over your shoulder to steal your PIN number.