A recent study found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million Americans in 2016 alone, via identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission lists identity theft as one of the top complaints it receives from consumers. Having your money stolen is just one of many adverse impacts such theft can have on your life. It can also result in bad credit and action from collection agencies, as well as making it difficult to apply for jobs and housing.
The good news is that your credit union or bank can help. Here are several ways your financial institution can protect you from identity theft and help you recover if it’s already occurred.
Monitoring Your Purchases
As soon as an identity thief gets hold of your information, they won’t waste any time draining your accounts and ruining your good name. Unfortunately, many people don’t even realize what’s happened until the damage is already done. Your credit union or bank can help by keeping an eye on your accounts and alerting you right away if something looks fishy with your transaction history.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
You should be able to trust that your financial institution is keeping up on the latest security advancements in the industry. When your credit union or bank is in the know about the tools and tactics criminals have at their disposal, they can take proactive steps on your behalf, such as ensuring secure online transactions and protecting ATMs.
Helping You Get Through
If you’re already the victim of identity theft, you are probably overwhelmed and unsure how to begin to deal with the issue. Your financial institution can help walk you through the process, from reporting the fraud to the government to creating a plan to help you repair your credit and reclaim your financial freedom.
Other Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
In addition to using a credit union or bank that actively provides security measures, you can take a number of steps in your daily life to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
* Only make online purchases using trusted, secure websites.
* Don’t carry your Social Security card around, and elect not to have the number printed on your ID card.
* Put a hold on your mail when you go out of town.
* Always use a secure internet connection.
* Change online passwords regularly, and be sure to use a combination of letters, numbers and characters that would be difficult for someone to guess. * Do not respond to unsolicited requests for your personal information, whether it’s from someone online or at your doorstep.
Identity theft is a serious problem, but we can all fight back by being careful with our personal information and by making smart choices when it comes to handling our money.