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Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request whether it is over the phone, on the Internet or via text message. E-mails and Internet pages created by thieves may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily denotes a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, do not provide any information.
If you are unsure whether a contact is legitimate, contact the financial institution. Be sure that you are using a phone number or website address provided on your monthly statement or in the phone book. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using information that you have verified yourself.
Treat your laptop computer like a baby – never leave it unattended in your car, your gym locker or other public place. Stolen computers are the source of many security breaches.
Choose strong passwords. Include upper- and lowercase letters, numerals and punctuation marks. Your password should not be related to your personal information such as names, birthdates or addresses of you or your family.
Change your passwords often. Record them in a secure place that is not close to your computer.
Keep sensitive documents only on a computer with a password-protected log-in.
Do not download peer-to-peer software such as Kazaa, and don’t let your children do so.
Update your Internet security software regularly.
Beware of downloading free applications on social networking sites. They could be malicious software.
Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information. For suggestions on what to shred and what to keep,
Remove your Social Security card from your wallet or pocketbook and store it in a safe place.
Protect your wallet, purse and personal information at all times.
Remove mail from your mailbox at home promptly. Do not leave outgoing mail in your mailbox at home – take it to a U.S. Postal Service drop box.
If you fall victim to identity theft, act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institutions. Place fraud alerts on your files with the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). Monitor your credit files and account statements closely.