Thoroughly examine your credit report regularly
Make sure to verify your credit reports at least annually to ensure that all accounts that exist are in your name and valid. Check all three major agencies:
*Other websites may offer free reports, but many of them require you purchase monitoring services; they also do not have the ability to fix incorrect information.
You can also request that a phone call be placed before any credit can be obtained by contacting the major credit agencies listed above. This can seriously deter cyber criminals from obtaining your identity, but it will also mean that you will have to validate all credit inquiries and may not have access to your line of credit right away.
Shred/Secure all personal information
Most criminals can get all the information they need just by going through your trash! Make sure that you shred all personal identifying information before you place it into your trash bins. Keep important documents like statements, tax paperwork, and credit reports filed away in a locked storage container!
Watch your mail
Anyone can easily access your personal information from the mail. Monitor your mail by sending outgoing letters through the post office or an official mail box instead of your home mail box. Consider purchasing a locked mail box. You can also choose not to receive some pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5OPT-OUT.
Clean your wallet
Carry only the one credit/debit card that you will be using to make your purchases; this will lower the information that can be obtained if you lose your wallet or have it stolen. It is good practice to keep a photocopy of all major credit cards in a locked container so you can have easy access to your account information in the case of a lost card. Never keep your Social Security card in your wallet- always keep it in a safe, locked container!
Monitor your Social Security and Driver's License number
Having this information makes it much easier for a thief to convince a store clerk not to ask for an ID. Don't have this information printed anywhere on your checks or used as an account number. Don't provide either bit of information unless your trust the entity you are providing it to.
Recovering from Identity Theft
If you have already been a victim, there are several steps to take to help get your credit back on track. Begin the following process as soon as you find that your identity has been used fraudulently:
- Immediately cancel all open credit accounts and bank accounts; inform the institutions that your identity has been compromised and that you need to establish new account numbers for all accounts as soon as possible.
- Contact the three Major credit agencies (listed above) immediately to obtain a copy of your reports. Review them for all unlawful uses of your credit and report them. Request a fraud alert be established on your reports until the situation is resolved.
- Request copies of all fruadulently acquired credit accounts for a police file. Many times people know the person who unlawfully used their identity and are able to identify them by their signature.
- Document all correspondence and action taken during your investigation. It it is not resolved to your satisfaction, fill out a complaint on the Federal Trade Commission's website www.ftc.gov.
At the ATM . . .
- Try to go the ATM in groups and chose ATMs that are in well lit areas.
- When you approach the ATM, do a full 360 degree scan, looking completely around you to see if anyone is hanging out where they shouldn’t be.
- When entering in your pin number, use your other hand or your body to cover the keypad. Just because you don’t see someone watching you doesn’t mean there couldn’t still be a camera capturing what you type.
On the Go . . .
- Make sure to stay up to date on your accounts by checking your account frequently. If you see unauthorized transactions contact the bank as soon as possible. 229-246-3131
- You can also download our mobile app to help you stay on top of your accounts! Click here for links.
- Take a map. These days everyone relies on their phones for navigation, but in some places, where service isn’t strong, you can lose that ability. Having a map is always a nice backup plan when on a road trip. Do a search for the city you are travelling to. There are a number of apps on Google Play and in the App Store that don’t require an internet connection or GPS.
- When using Uber or Lyft, you will see the driver’s name, license plate number, and photo on your phone when you request the ride. Check for a match when you ride arrives to be sure you are getting in the right car.
- When in a cab or Uber, follow along with your GPS navigation to make sure you are on the correct route.
At the Hotel...
- Choose awareness; make a mental note of where the nearest fire exits and stairwells are located in case you need to evacuate.
- When you get to your room, check that all of the window and door locks are secure.
- Almost all hotels offer safes. Use them! This is a great place to store any cash or credit cards that you don’t want to have on hand when you are out of the hotel and any other easy to steal items such as Ipads, Ipods, jewelry, laptops, backup ID (DL or passport).
In the Water...
- Take it slow and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. If you start feeling faint or light headed, get shade and water immediately.
- Use waterproof sunscreen at least SPF 30 and reapply often. Pay extra special attention to ears, nose, face, feet, and shoulders.
- Know the flag system for water safety:
- Red Flag: Stay out of the water because of strong undertow and riptides.
- Yellow Flag: Use CAUTION in the water. There are some undertow and riptides possible.
- Blue Flag: Calm water. Swim safely.