Security at home and online are very important.  There are some simple things you can do to keep your identity, money, and yourself protected. 

Smart ideas for protecting yourself

  • Be wary of strangers you allow in. Keep sensitive data, credit cards, and checkbooks out of sight.
  • Store your new and cancelled checks securely.
  • Safely store copies of your driver’s license, credit cards, car registration, I.D. cards, etc.
  • Shred old and unnecessary financial documents, statements, and unwanted credit offers.
  • Don’t send personal information such as account numbers, credit card numbers, or PINs via email.
  • Select one credit card with a low credit limit to use for all your online purchases.
  • Immediately after you make a Web transaction, completely close your browser.
  • Turn off your computer when you’re not using it — don’t leave it in “sleep” mode.
  • Never download files or click on hyperlinks in emails from people or companies you don’t know.
  • Install a firewall, virus protection, and spyware on your computer and update them regularly.

Note: To maximize Web transaction safety, use a recent version of your Web browser. Web addresses starting with “https” and Web pages with a padlock symbol in the lower right corner are safest.

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Most ATMs give out cash and many accept deposits, it makes sense to be alert and aware of your surroundings no matter where or when you use an ATM.  Avoid using an ATM in out-of-the-way or deserted areas. Use ATMs located inside banks or supermarkets where other people are around. Use ATMs in well-lit, public areas.

Be sure to look at the ATM. If it looks like someone has tampered with the equipment, don’t use it. It  could mean that a criminal has attached a “skimmer” to the ATM to steal your financial information. Also, if a suspicious person offers to help you use the ATM, refuse and leave.

Remember to take your ATM card out of the ATM and put your money and ATM card away before you leave. Always avoid showing your cash, but be sure to verify that the amount you withdrew or deposited matches the amount printed on your receipt. Shred or destroy your ATM receipts before you throw them away.

Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately to the company that issued you the card. If your ATM, debit, or credit is lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately.

To help you respond quickly in case your cards or ID are lost or stolen, keep a list of your creditors along with the customer service phone number. Be sure to store the list in a safe place. Never carry it with you.

Sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.

Protect your cards as if they were cash and never let them out of your possession or control. Don’t leave your credit cards in your car’s glove compartment. A high percentage of credit card thefts are from car glovebox or armrest. Don’t lend your cards to anyone and don’t let your credit cards be used by others, even family and friends.

Never write down your personal identification number (PIN), especially on the back of your card. Memorize it. Don’t write down your account number and PIN and carry it with you. If your wallet or purse is stolen, someone else could have access to your money. Never tell anyone your PIN. No one from a financial institution, the police, or a merchant should ask for your PIN. You are the only person who needs to know it. When selecting a PIN, avoid picking a number that is easy for others to guess — for example, your name, telephone number, date of birth, or any simple combination of these. When typing in your PIN at the ATM or when making a point-of-sale purchase, cover the number pad so no one near you can see your PIN. Change your current PIN from time to time to make it more difficult for fraudsters to guess.

When shopping, be sure that you get your card back after every purchase. Always make sure that sales vouchers are for the correct purchase amount before you sign them. Keep copies of your sales vouchers and ATM, debit or credit card receipts in a secure place. Don’t volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card, other than by displaying personal identification as requested by a merchant. Don’t put your driver’s license number on your checks. Review your statements regularly to ensure there are no suspicious charges. Contact your bank immediately if you see a charge you don’t recognize.

Many cards are using a chip technology. However, if you have a magnetic strip be sure to keep your cards away from things with magnets. If your card is near something magnetic, it may erase or damage the information stored on the card’s magnetic strip.


Review these tips for keeping your mail safe.

Smart ideas for protecting your mail

  • Notify the post office immediately if you change your address.
  • Get a mailbox that you must unlock with a key to remove your mail.
  • Don’t leave your mail for long periods of time in visible, unguarded areas (e.g., apartment lobbies).
  • Reduce your risk of mail fraud by signing up for electronic statements or bills.
  • Review your statements both in paper and online to detect suspicious activity and fraud.
  • If you’re out of town, put a hold on your mail delivery or have a person you trust pick it up.
  • Don’t put outgoing mail in your residential mailbox. It could be stolen.
  • Put outgoing mail in a secure USPS mail box or hand it directly to a uniformed USPS mail carrier.
  • Use an electronic bill pay service to help keep your information safe.
  • If a company’s regular bills or statements stop reaching you, contact that company immediately.
  • If you stop receiving mail, call the post office immediately.

Note: If you use the red flags found on some mailboxes to alert your mail carrier of outgoing mail, you are also alerting potential thieves that outgoing mail is in the box!

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