Financial Tip of the Week from the Iowa Bankers Association:
Protecting your personal financial information is essential to reducing your risk of identity theft or other types of financial fraud. Consumers are encouraged to take advantage of these protective steps to avoid putting your personal information at risk of identity theft or financial fraud.
1. Keep personal and financial information in a safe place. Shred it when you don't need it anymore.
2. Minimize...carry only the minimal identification and credit/debit cards you actually need.
3. Pay attention to your mail. Know billing cycles and when to expect statements. Drop outgoing mail in collection boxes. Ask the U.S. Postal Service for vacation hold when you're away.
4. Provide your Social Security Number only when absolutely necessary.
5. Before revealing nonpublic personal financial information, find out how it will be used or shared with others.
6. Obtain a copy of your credit report at least annually to verify accuracy of information. Free upon request (once annually from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agency) by contacting: www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
7. Opt-out of pre-approved credit offers. Call 888-567-8688 for an automated opt-out of prescreened solicitation lists from all three nationwide credit reporting agencies or contact each of the three national credit bureaus directly:
8. Get your name off mailing lists, telemarketing lists and e-mail lists. List residential phone numbers on the "National Do Not Call" registry - call 888-382-1222 or register online at www.donotcall.gov.
9. To reduce direct mail solicitation, list residential addresses with Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org), Mail Preference Service, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643. List e-mail addresses with Direct Marketing Association, E-mail Preference Service, www.e-mps.org.
These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA). For additional information go to www.mysmartfinances.com. More consumer information is available from the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or 877-382-4357.