13 Jan

5 Ways to Avoid Having Your Identity Stolen

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Identity theft is like a shape shifter taking on many forms. There are three common types.

  1. Existing account takeover
  2. New account creation
  3. Identity creation

In short, either someone takes what you have out of your account, opens up new accounts with your information, or uses pieces of your personal identifying information, such as your social security number, and goes on a wild tear you likely won’t know about until it becomes a financial nightmare.

RMLEFCU is working to switch all the cards we issue to use EMV technology. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. Cards with EMV contain a super-small computer chip that’s extremely hard to counterfeit. Consider that almost half of the world’s credit card fraud happens in the United States—even though only a quarter of all credit card transactions happen here. The banks want to rein this in ASAP by moving away from magnetic-stripe cards, which are much easier to counterfeit.

Your personal information can be used to access current accounts, other than just your credit card, and can lay the groundwork for a brand new identity. While RMLEFCU uses technology to secure your credit cards, there are important steps you can take to make sure your personal identifying information stays PERSONAL.

These tips are not exhaustive, but are manageable tips to safeguard your financial security.

1. Photocopy the contents of your wallet. Don’t take pictures of your cards with your smartphone. Even if you try not to share with the cloud, the moment you turn that function back on for any other photos, you are potentially compromising that information. If you don’t have access to a copy machine, you can write down or type up all of the credit card company information (Issuer, credit card number, CVV, expiration date and contact number) and store this or the photocopy in a secure safe or locked file cabinet. This way, if your purse or wallet is stolen or lost, you know exactly who to contact to make sure no fraudulent charges are made and you are able to pause or close these accounts.

2.  Keep on top of your bank and credit card statements. Check every 15 days, set up a reminder on your phone or computer to log in and look at the charges. If you don’t recognize something, you’ll have enough time to contact us or your credit card issuer (if it’s not us) and try to resolve the charge.

3.  Get off mailing lists and get a locking mailbox. Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit optoutprescreen.com to stop unsolicited offers from coming. Here’s more info. A locking mailbox helps deter thieves from accessing any other sensitive information that might still arrive, despite your efforts to cut down on this type of mail.

4. Keep personal identifying information in a safe place and or shred things. There are still dumpster divers out there. Or the potential of unscrupulous visitors in your home. Shred your personal identifying information or if you need to keep a record or it keep it in the same safe or locked file cabinet where you have stored what cards and accounts we mentioned in step #1.

5. Stop giving out your social security number. To create new accounts, thieves may only need your social security number paired with other public information that can be found online. Being able to find your address or employment information only requires whitepages.com and LinkedIn or your name and city, if your name is unique enough. Don’t give it out to anyone and if pressed, ask if you can use an alternative ID. There are only a few state and federal programs that REQUIRE it. Ask if you can provide your passport or driver’s license instead. Check here for when you have to provide it and for a few more alternatives.

By doing these 5 things, you are better able to safeguard your finances from conniving criminals. If at any time you have questions about suspicious activity in your RMLEFCU account, call us at (303) 458-6660 or contact a branch representative.

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