A dark, hooded figure sitting behind a laptop computer.

There's not much that can make your heart sink like realizing your personal information has been compromised. There are a few common ways fraudsters can get their hands on your information and a long list of ways they can use it. The good news is—there are things you can do to help protect yourself so you never have to experience that sinking feeling! The Federal Trade Commission suggests the following ways to help keep your identity safe:

Use caution when sharing your personal information with others

There are many instances that require us to share personal information. It's how we prove our identity. It's important to remember that legitimate organizations like your doctor's office, the IRS, and your financial institution (including SAFE) will never call, text, or email to ask for your most sensitive information. Abbreviated versions of these details, like the last 4 of your social security number and non-critical pieces of information like your name and address can often be used for identification purposes instead. Don't ever hesitate to ask why an intentity needs sensitive information like your social security number, and if they have an alternate way to identify you. 

Safeguard documents that contain personal information

Financial statements, medical records, social security cards, and any other documents that contain personal information should be kept secured at all times. Try keeping them in your home filing cabinet or a safe deposit box. Never leave mail or personal documents out in the open where they can be easily read. When disposing of these documents, shredding is your best defense. SAFE Federal Credit Union hosts free community shred events throughout the year. Details about upcoming shred days are made available on our website. 

Protect your online information with a strong password

There are so many convenient, online solutions available now from balancing your checkbook to keeping up with friends. With all your online accounts, comes new ways for fraudsters to access your information. Your best defense is a strong, hard-to-crack password. The key aspects to a strong password are length (the longer, the better), a variety of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols. Remember to leave personally identifying information like your name, or birth date out of your password and never share it with anyone. Most apps and online platforms can be set up to require a two-step log-in process for extra security. 

To learn more about Identity theft including information about these tips, visit the Federal Trade Commission's consumer information page here