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Protect Your Identity and Accounts

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					Protect Yourself from ID Theft

Identity theft and account fraud are serious issues that can occur when someone steals your
personal information and then uses this information to withdraw money from your account or
open an account in your name.

The more you understand how these crimes can occur, the better you'll be able to protect
yourself. The following tips can help you safeguard your personal information and your financial
identity:

1. Choose creative passwords. Extreme care should be taken in choosing your account
access passwords. Be creative and use letters, numbers, and symbols for your passwords.
Avoid using birth dates, part of your Social Security Number or driver’s license number, address,
or children’s or spouse’s names. And remember, don’t carry password information with you. Try
to memorize it instead.

2. Secure your mail. Empty your mailbox or get a PO Box, so criminals don’t have a chance to
steal mail containing sensitive information or credit card offers. Whenever possible, have your
account statements delivered to you electronically via e-statements and avoid having your
statements sit in your mailbox, where they have a greater risk of being stolen. Steer clear of
placing outgoing payments in your home mailbox for pickup, as this gives potential thieves the
perfect opportunity to steal your account information, as well as your signature.

3. Safeguard your Social Security number. Try to avoid carrying your social security card with
you, or any other card that may have this number, like a health insurance card. Don’t put your
social security number on your checks or use your number as your driver’s license number. This
gives thieves access to exactly what they need to access your credit report and account
information.

4. Don't leave a paper trail. Never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.
Destroy or shred sensitive documents, credit card offers, or paid bills before throwing them away.

5. Be more defensive with personal information. Ask salespeople and others if information
such as a Social Security or driver’s license number is absolutely necessary. Ask anyone who
does require your Social Security number -- for instance, your insurance company -- what their
privacy policy is and whether you can arrange for the organization not to share your information
with anyone else.

6. Monitor your credit report. Obtain and thoroughly review your credit report (now available for
free at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228) at least once a year to look for
suspicious activity. If you spot something unfamiliar, alert your financial institution immediately.

For more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft and account fraud, visit the
Credit Union’s website at BFSFCU.org; you will find these and other helpful hints in the Resource
Center under WebSecure.

				
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posted:3/10/2010
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