Stop identity thieves with these tips
Provided by RBC Wealth Management
and Dave Dupont
Identity theft has become a modern fact of life. Like it or not, our everyday activities can leave us vulnerable to thieves who will grab key information about us and use it fraudulently. There are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure, and one of them — reducing your use of paper — has environmental benefits as well.
Eliminate or shred paper. Paper records of important information are open invitations to thieves. You give ready access to your identity every time you put unshredded credit-card invitations, bank statements and other financial records in the trash. Your mail is vulnerable, too.
Keep your guard up online. By now, most people know they need good firewalls on their computers to block spyware and viruses. And it goes without saying that you never want to share your Social Security number with others or use easy-to-guess passwords. But a new threat is emerging with mobile devices. The 2012 Identity Fraud Report of Javelin Strategy & Research says smartphones are becoming new targets because they are often left on around-the-clock and owners often have not installed programs to block malware.
Javelin suggests that users avoid “jail-breaking” or “rooting” their phones because that undermines what security was in place. The research group also recommends installing software only from the Android Market or Apple App Store, using the latest version of your phone’s operating system, and be sure you can erase your phone’s content remotely if it is lost. (This applies to old computers you are getting rid of, too. Clean off info from your hard drive before disposing of it.)
Another tip for social media users: Don’t share too much personal information. Many users share information such as the high school they attended, their birth date and their pet’s name online. Such information is often used by banks to verify a customer’s identity. If you’ve disclosed it all online, you’ve made it that much easier for a thief to access your funds without your permission.
Keep an eye on your accounts. Security experts recommend checking your accounts electronically once per week at a minimum. Doing so increases your ability to quickly detect unusual activity and reduce financial losses.
The information included in this article is not intended to be used as the primary basis for making investment decisions.
RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC