For those who know how to use
it, Internet banking is a great convenience. There’s free online bill payment,
next day bank-to-bank funds transfer and much more. It all makes our lives so
But all this bliss could mean
trouble. One of the worst things that could happen to you is someone stealing
your personal information and using it to obtain loans, credit cards and even
commit crimes. This is called identity theft.
A thief only needs two pieces
of information to impersonate you: your Social Security number and your date of
birth. These are the keys to your bank accounts, credit files, credit cards and
health information. No matter how foolproof banking may seem these days, each
and every consumer is at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. But there are some steps you can take to prevent
Don’t write checks to people
you don’t know. Give them a money order, bank draft or cash instead. Anyone can
use the information on your check to pull funds from your account via the
Before dumping your bank
statements in the garbage, remember that hackers don’t have access to your
home, but they can easily get into your trash. Buy a shredder and use it.
Destroy any and all documentation that contains your personal and banking
information. You may want to consider signing up for online statements, rather
than receiving them in the mail.
Destroy your expired credit
and debit cards. Be sure to sign the back of these cards. You may even wish to
place a piece of transparent tape over the signature so that it can’t be
Don’t use public computers,
such as in libraries or at your workplace. Be sure to shut off your home
computer when it’s not in use to prevent hackers from gaining access.
The bottom line is that you
should use common sense when it comes to protecting your most personal
information. Make it hard for a criminal to steal your identity.