6 Steps to Prevent Financial Identity Theft

When your identity is stolen, someone uses your personal information to pass themselves off as you. The thief is usually out to profit financially, but you don’t have to be wealthy to be a target.

In addition to cleaning out your financial accounts, the thief can open loans and credit cards in your name. Before authorities catch up with them, identity thieves have often spent tens of thousands of dollars — and sometimes much more — in fraudulent funds.

Financial institutions and payment card companies usually restore lost funds and forgive debts that result from identity theft, but putting your financial house back in order can take months. That’s why prevention is the best policy. If you haven’t taken the steps below to protect yourself from financial identity theft, there’s no time like the present to start.

1. Memorize Debit Card PINs

When a debit card is stolen, the thief finds all the information he needs to make purchases printed right on the card, except the card’s personal identification (PIN) number. That’s why you should never carry PIN numbers in your wallet or write them on debit cards. Memorize the numbers, then stash official documents that list the numbers in one of our safe deposit boxes.

2. Use Payment Card Security Apps

After finding their payment card missing, the first thing most people do is call the card provider to cancel the account, but there’s an easier way to take control. You can use a payment card app, such as MobiMoney, to instantly deactivate the card with your smartphone. Other security features include setting spending limits and limiting purchases to a particular region.     '

3. Memorize Social Security Number

You can’t use a social security number (SSN) to make purchases, but you can use it to apply for loans. Most lenders view your SSN as the most private, well-guarded piece of personal information you have. To keep it that way, memorize your SSN and place your SSN card in one of our safe deposit boxes, along with the documents that list your debit card PIN numbers.

4. Don’t Keep Sensitive Information in Your Car

For many, a vehicle is like a second home. They spend lots of time in it, and it gradually collects sensitive information that identity thieves would like to get their hands on, such as ATM receipts, carbon copies of checks, and various pieces of mail. Removing information from your car that thieves could use to impersonate you prevents car theft from turning into identity theft.

5. Choose Unique Usernames / Passwords

The harder it is to figure out your usernames and passwords for online accounts, the more difficult it is to steal from you online. It’s especially important to have strong login information for accounts with banks and credit unions, payment platforms such as PayPal, and e-commerce platforms such as BigCommerce, as these accounts can be used to make purchases directly.      

6. Shred Sensitive Documents   

Some sensitive documents, such as SSN cards and legal papers, need to be kept indefinitely. But many sensitive documents can be thrown away after enough time passes, such as carbon copies of checks, financial account statements, and tax returns. Before you toss these items in the trash, run them through a paper shredder to make it impossible to pirate the information.   

Attend Our Shred Day!      

Do you have sensitive documents you no longer need? If so, make them permanently off limits to identity thieves by bringing them to our Shred Day event on October 8th, 9 a.m. – noon, to have them shredded before your eyes. Our following St. Louis branches are participating:

  • South County – 3805 Union Road
  • West County – 2175 Barrett Station Road at Manchester Road
  • Jeffco (Arnold, MO) – 1334 Jeffco Blvd
  • St. Louis Hills – 6600 Chippewa Street at Lansdowne Avenue

For more information about the event, please call us today at (800) 325-9905, or use our contact form. We look forward to helping you prevent financial identity theft!

Thank you for your thoughts and comments on this blog topic. We welcome hearing from you. For your security, please do not to request transactions to your account in your comments. Additionally, do not include confidential information in your comments as this communication is not a secure channel for transmission.