Protect Yourself Online

Following are some easy precautions you can take to help prevent identity theft and/or other abuse of your personal information.

Things You Should Do

-Be wary of any e-mail requesting financial information or other personal data. Do not reply to the e-mail and do not respond by clicking on a link within the e-mail message. Contact the business that allegedly sent the e-mail to verify if it is genuine. Call a phone number or visit a website that you know to be legitimate, such as those provided on your monthly statements.

-Check your monthly statements to verify all transactions.

-Install a firewall to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your computer.

-Make sure you have the most current operating system and web browser software and use their anti-spyware features. Only download software from sites you know and trust.

-Select the highest security setting practical on your browser to prevent unauthorized downloads.

-Beware of anti-spyware offers: Some links in spam that claim to prevent spyware actually install it. Get anti-spyware software from a vendor you know and trust – and scan your computer with it regularly.

-Use “strong” passwords that contain numbers, letters and special characters and that do not include personal information such as name or birth date.

-Shift to secure online services – such as online banking – to cut down on paper statements, bills and checks. When using online banking or shopping services, make sure the URL (web address) starts with “https:” The “s” indicates a secure transmission of data.

-Close any inactive accounts and destroy old or expired credit cards.

-Write only the last four digits of account numbers on checks when paying bills.

-Run a “wipe” utility before disposing of any computer to erase your personal information.

-Always review your credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them. By reviewing your statements for unauthorized charges, you can alert authorities and stop any further damage.

-Know when to expect your statements to arrive. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.

-If your credit card or bank card has online account maintenance, sign up for e-mail account “alerts” to monitor transfers, payments, low balances or withdrawals. You can also put a security freeze on your credit report; however, there may be a fee to place or remove the freeze.

Things You Should NOT Do

-Do not send personal information such as credit or debit card numbers, Social Security numbers or PINs in response to any e-mail request.

-Do not click on web page pop-up links; clicking on links within pop-ups can install software on your computer.

-Do not store personal information on a laptop computer.

-Avoid using Internet cafés or public kiosks to access financial sites such as your bank or brokerage account.