Personal Information - Protect It

Statistics
  • FACT:   $41 billion in gift cards have not been redeemed since 2005.
What You Can Do
  • NEVER, under any circumstance, give ANY personal information (social security number, bank card number, financial account information, etc.) to anyone you do not know and trust who calls you, writes a letter to you, or emails you.  
  • Review your monthly statements from banks and insurance companies.  You may find fraudulent charges or legitimate charges for services that you no longer need.
  • Do not leave your financial information in view of others to see.  Secure your checkbook, deposit slips and financial statementsódonít leave them in a desk drawer or your car.  Keep them completely and safely out of sight. 

  • Keep duplicate records.  Take all of your credit cards and personal ID, put them in a copy machine and photo both sides.  In the event of theft, you can prove ownership and the numbers.  Immediately call the number on the back of cards if stolen, so they can stop the thief from using your card.  
  • Do not use photocopiers with a memory to copy financial documents, leaving that information for people who know how to retrieve your copied information.  
  • Use a gel pen when writing checksóand preferably gel pens which so specify that security feature.  Thieves cannot wash and remove gel pen ink so they can change your written information.  Gel Pens are a great gift to give to friends, family, and employees to prevent fraud.  
  • Prevention is the best defense.  Monitoring all of your financial accounts on a regular basis is crucial to beating identity theft.   Set aside a few minutes every day to take a quick look at all your financial accounts and billing statements to ensure no fraudulent transactions slip through.  
  • Check your credit card and bank statements regularly to make sure there are no unauthorized charges.  Review whatís going on in your accounts.  If you notify your financial institutionís toll-free emergency hotline as soon as you detect a theft, you will likely avoid having to pay for the charge yourself.  
  • Consider anti-theft insurance through your home owners insurance.  It may give you as much as $20,000 in insurance coverage and $4,000 for lost wages.  (The typical identity theft victim spends about 600 hours clearing up their credit.)  
  • Learn about security issues with electronic/digital devices and how to manage the risks in order to secure your personal information.  Robert Vamosiís book "When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of Our Infatuation With New Technologies."

  • Protect the Plastics: Debit, Credit and Gift Cards. 

    Whether itís your credit card, ATM card or a gift card, plastic is often the preferred way to pay. But plastic can also be an easy target for thieves. As you do your holiday shopping, follow these simple rules to protect yourself.

    Credit/Debit Cards

    • Use credit cards instead of debit. Why? Because credit cards come with legal protection against fraudulent charges. Just try to pay the bill off monthly to avoid incurring interest.

    • Want even more protection? Use a prepaid credit card, which works just like most gift cards. If the number is stolen, thieves canít access more than the card is worth.

    • Shop only on websites using a secure socket layer (SSL). The URL starts with an https://, not an http://.

    • Donít store credit card data on a website ó site breakdowns could leave your information at risk.1

    Gift Cards

    • If the card includes a PIN, make sure the concealed PIN coating isnít scratched off prior to use. 

    • Verify the card balance with the cashier before purchase.

    • Keep your receipts and activation codes in case thereís a problem down the road.

    ATMs

    • Crooks capture PINs and account information with skimming devices placed over the real card slot. Stay clear of ATMs with slots that are crooked, have information thatís partially hidden or are a different color than the rest of the machine.3

    • Use ATMs in well-lit areas with security cameras.

    • Be aware of your surroundings when handling money in public.

    SOURCES -
    (from Allstate's Good Hands News)
    1 http://idtheft.about.com/od/preventionpractices/a/OnlineShopping.htm
    2 http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/12/27/144308234/lost-money-41-billion-in-gift-cards-
       havent-been-redeemed-since-2005

    3 http://fraudpreventionunit.org/2010/02/05/how-to-avoid-atm-skimming/
Additional Resources
Spokane C.O.P.S. - Identity Theft Program
(509) 625-3328
Samantha Purcell, Crime Victim Advocate, Spokane COPS
spurcell@spokanecops.org
Contact them to make a presentation on Identify Theft awareness. 
http://www.spokanecops.org/site/6ff94093/everything-you-need-to-know-about-identity-theft?preview=true

DeVries Business Services
601 E. Pacific Ave
Spokane, WA  99202
(509) 838-1044
https://www.devriesinc.com/shred-services/onsite-shredding-mobile/
They offer shredding services to residents and businesses to protect them from identity theft.