‘Tis the Season to Protect Your Identity - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

‘Tis the Season to Protect Your Identity

Financial Tip of the Week from the Iowa Bankers Association:

Bells are ringing, malls are buzzing and the clock is ticking for consumers to finish their holiday shopping. It's also peak season for identity theft, one of the nation's fastest-growing crimes. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information–such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or credit card numbers—to commit fraud or other crimes. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million identities are stolen each year in the U.S.

Consumers should be on high alert this holiday shopping season. Research conducted by Identity Theft 911 (www.identitytheft911.com) reports that two to four identity theft crimes are reported every hour of the winter holiday shopping season. Take steps to protect your identity with the following tips:

  • When shopping online, use credit cards instead of debit cards. Never send payment information via e-mail. When checking out of a retailer's Web site, look for a small "padlock" icon in the browser to verify that the site is secure.
  • If you're traveling for the holidays, don't let your mail build up in your mailbox. Thieves can steal your mail which often includes unsolicited credit card offers and other personal financial information. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail while you're traveling, or you can easily put your mail on hold through the US Postal Service Web site or by contacting your local post office.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Criminals can use your Social Security number to open up fraudulent accounts in your name. Never provide your Social Security number to online retailers and be sure to store your Social Security card in a safe place – never carry it with you.
  • Shred documents that contain your personal financial information, including credit card statements, credit card offers and other financial statements.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements daily and review for fraudulent transactions. Report any suspicious activity immediately.
  • If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, take steps to restore your good name by filing a police report, notifying the major credit reporting agencies, checking your credit reports and notifying your banks and credit card companies. You can also file a complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov.

These financial tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state. For more information go to www.iowabankers.com.

Powered by Frankly