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Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

Tips and tools to help you keep your identity safe and secure.

How safe is your personal information? You may not think about it much but identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, affecting nearly 10 million people each year – that’s 19 people every minute! From ATM skimmers to dumpster divers, identity thieves go to great lengths to steal your personal information, which can lead victims to experience a damaged credit score, theft of hard earned funds, unexpected bills, and even a possible criminal record.

The safety and security of our members' information is a top priority. MCU monitors for any type of suspicious activity to prevent confidential information from getting into the wrong hands.

There are easy ways to protect yourself from these types of crimes.

• Monitor Your Activity: Always keep tabs on all of your accounts by reviewing your statements monthly, and constantly monitoring your activity. Report any suspicious activity as early as possible. You can monitor your activity in two very important ways. First, activating account alerts can help to notify you when any kind of activity has been made on your account. This will help you to report any suspicious activity as soon as it happens. It is also important to check your credit score annually (you can check it for free once per year at www.annualcreditreport.com and look for inaccuracies or omissions.

• Go Green: Request eStatements and pay online whenever possible. By signing up for eStatements and online bill payment, you can avoid the risk of an identity thief going through your mail to obtain information. Also, shred all paper documents that contain sensitive information, including your SSN, date of birth, or other information that can be used to compromise the safety of your identity.

• Don’t Take the Bait: Many identity thieves will imitate a trustworthy source and try to bait you into giving personal information. This can be done over the phone, by email, text, on social media sites, online job applications, or by getting you to click on unfamiliar links from sources you trust. These are “phishing” scams that trick people into sharing personal information; avoid giving out personal information as much as possible.   

• Be Private in Public: When using a public computer (office, library, etc.), make sure you delete any personal documents on the desktop before logging off. Also make sure to delete your Internet browsing history, and never use your credit or debit card to make online purchases on public computers.

• Use Caution at the ATM: Make sure to be alert whenever using an ATM. Free-standing ATMs (ATMs that can be accessed without entering through a locked door or aren’t part of a reputable financial institution) are at high risk for identity thieves to attach skimming devices, so avoid them whenever possible. Never keep your ATM card and PIN together, and never tape your PIN to your ATM card. Be aware of any suspicious persons trying to “shoulder surf” (looking over your shoulder as you key in your PIN).

• Leave your personal information at home. Carrying important documents like your social security card in your wallet or purse is unwise. If it gets lost or stolen, your personal information may be in the hands of an individual who can use it against you.

• Get creative with your passwords. Passwords serve to protect your personal information but if you make them too easy and use information like your birthday, mother’s maiden name, or street address – a criminal who already has access to your information can take educated guesses and hack into your accounts more easily. You need to be able to remember your passwords, but it’s better to get creative than use obvious information.

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