The 2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report by Javelin Strategy & Research offers safety tips for consumers that want to protect themselves from identity fraud.
1. Be Vigilant – Monitor your accounts regularly online at bank and credit card websites, ATMs or by phone and set up alerts that can be sent both online and to a mobile device. Americans who monitor their accounts frequently are most likely to uncover suspicious or unauthorized activity. The survey found that those victims who took more than six months to detect the fraud saw four times higher average costs. Meanwhile, too many cases of fraud are detected via slower methods, such as when consumers review credit histories, paper statements or are contacted by a debt collector.
2. Keep Personal Data Private – Do not provide sensitive financial information over the Internet or phone, including Social Security Numbers, passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs) or account numbers, unless you initiated the interaction to a verified and trusted location, such as the number or web address on the back of a credit card, debit card or statement.
3. Online is Safer Than Offline When Consumers Use Available Security Controls – Consumers should install and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and keep operating systems and browsers updated. Once online access is secure, consumers should move financial transactions online to eliminate many of the most common avenues fraudsters use to obtain personal information and gain more control compared to traditional channels. Moving online includes turning off paper invoices, statements and checks, including paychecks, and replacing them with electronic versions. Avoid mailing checks to pay bills or deposit funds in your banking account. Instead, pay bills online and use remote deposit check imaging services.
4. Be Aware of Those Around You – Be mindful of your environment and others who may be in proximity of overhearing sensitive financial or personal information or watching you text. This includes purchases over the phone or use of your Social Security Number for identification.
5. Ensure Credit and Debit Cards are Protected – Obtain credit and debit cards from financial institutions that provide zero liability if a card is ever lost, stolen or used without authorization. Nearly all financial institutions automatically protect you against any unauthorized transactions made at merchants, over the phone, on the Internet or at the ATM.
6. Learn About Identity Protection Services – There are additional services for those consumers who want extra protection and peace of mind. These include credit monitoring, fraud alerts, credit freezes and database scanning, some of which can be obtained for a fee and others at no cost. At a minimum, consumers should review their credit report no less than once per year, either for free at AnnualCreditReport.com or through many financial institutions’ websites.