Keep Your Financial Identity Safe

By Colin Morrison, KCU Chief Information Officer


As we are in the middle of the holiday season, I thought I would provide some reminders on how to keep your financial identity safe and secure while enjoying the season. Many of us scramble to complete our shopping in town and we turn to the online world in order to save time. Here are a few tips to help keep your identity safe and secure.

Before you get online, make sure that you have the latest security software for your computer. This should also include an updated anti-virus software program. Many of these programs come with additional security applications such as anti-spyware and firewall applications. If you are using wireless network access in your home, make sure that you're protecting your wireless access point. Many wireless routers allow anyone access to your wireless network.

I find it easier to track my online purchases through a low limit credit card rather than my debit card. This can help in two ways. If your debit card is compromised, the thief has access to the total amount in your checking account. The other nice thing is if you use a dedicated credit card for all of your online purchases it is easy to track. Worried about maxing out a low limit credit card? If you use online banking, you can transfer a payment to your credit card whenever you need. Let Visa protect your purchases.

Secure your paper documents. The most common source of information for identity theft still comes from paper.

  • Don't carry your social security card if you don't need it.
  • Limit the number of cards and identification in your wallet or purse.
  • Consider electronic statements and electronic billing. A great deal of personal mail is still delivered in your mailbox.
  • Invest in a shredder and keep it close to where you review your daily mail.

Review your statements. Keep track of your online purchases and verify them with your monthly statements. You might also consider regularly reviewing your credit report. I mark my calendar to obtain a credit report every four months. You are entitled to a free credit report annually. With three different credit reporting agencies, you can receive a credit report for free every four months and make sure that there are no issues. The quicker you can spot problems the less impact it will have on your time and resources.

If you are a victim of identity theft, contact the authorities as quickly as possible. Be prepared to do most of the leg work yourself and be diligent about your record keeping. Two identity theft information sources are the United States Postal Inspection Services and the Federal Trade Commission. You can find them on the web at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov and http://www.ftc.gov.

Stay safe. As we are in the middle of the holiday season, I thought I would provide some reminders on how to keep your financial identity safe and secure while enjoying the season. Many of us scramble to complete our shopping in town and we turn to the online world in order to save time. Here are a few tips to help keep your identity safe and secure.

Before you get online, make sure that you have the latest security software for your computer. This should also include an updated anti-virus software program. Many of these programs come with additional security applications such as anti-spyware and firewall applications. If you are using wireless network access in your home, make sure that you're protecting your wireless access point. Many wireless routers allow anyone access to your wireless network.

I find it easier to track my online purchases through a low limit credit card rather than my debit card. This can help in two ways. If your debit card is compromised, the thief has access to the total amount in your checking account. The other nice thing is if you use a dedicated credit card for all of your online purchases it is easy to track. Worried about maxing out a low limit credit card? If you use online banking, you can transfer a payment to your credit card whenever you need. Let Visa protect your purchases. Secure your paper documents. The most common source of information for identity theft still comes from paper.

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