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  Posted on Friday, May 15, 2009


By: Angela Iacofano

Now-a-days your financial credit affects every aspect of your life. So no matter what you are doing online there is always a chance that someone can gather enough information about you to assume your identity or trash your credit. To keep control over your information please read the following tips.

Online Passwords
Online passwords are the easiest access point for an intruder. To stump them you will want to use the most unusual or complex password you can. Use a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation, as well as using both lowercase and uppercase letters. Also you will want to stay away from spelled out words so hackers who focus on commonly used words can't guess your password. In addition the longer the password the harder it is to crack so have at least 8-10 characters.

Compromised Accounts
Your accounts can be compromised in many ways. But one of the most prevalent lately is by phishing emails. These emails "phish" for your information which means they get you to interact and then you end up giving them your information. An example of these emails would seem to be sent by your own bank or by a familiar institution to you. It may say something like there is a security concern or issue with your account and then they direct you to click on a link in the email to resolve the issue, DON'T! This link actually takes you to another site that may even look like your institution site but it is not. Once you enter in any information they ask for, on that screen, you have now given the hacker your information and compromised your account.

If you do receive an email like this you will want to delete it and then open your Web browser and manually type in the URL to the Web site where this account is (don't ever cut and paste a link). By going to the real web site yourself is the only way you can protect yourself from being misdirected to a false web site.

Another recent attempt to compromise your account is through the phone. Someone may call you and hassle you to give them your personal information, again DON'T! They may call saying they represent your institution and try to get pertinent information about you or your account. Even if they sound legitimate, you never know who you are talking to, so do not trust giving away your information. If you are concerned simply hang up the phone and call that institutions 800 number and tell them the phone call you just received. They will be able to tell you if it was them and/or if there is anything wrong with your account. Rest assured that your institution will not be asking you for pertinent information since they already have it.

If you Become a Victim
If at any time your accounts are compromised you should proceed with the following steps:

  1. Contact your institution and close that particular account immediately
  2. Report the intrusion to the 3 credit bureaus. Equifax: (888) 766-0008, Experian: (888) 397-3742, TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
  3. Report it to the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline: (877) IDTHEFT (877-438-4338)
  4. Check all other account online or access your credit report (visit to get your free report) to make sure no other intrusion have occurred

To keep prepared you will want to keep organized paper records about your accounts and statements for at least one year. In any case where you suspect that your information has been stolen you will need to prove your account transactions to the financial institution's fraud department.

General Protections
You will also want to protect the below information because they are the most pertinent pieces of information that thief's would like to get their hands on:

  1. All Credit card numbers (including your bank card)
  2. CW2 security numbers (3 or 4 digit codes on the back of your credit cards)
  3. Social security numbers
  4. Driver's license numbers
  5. Phone numbers
  6. Dates of birth
  7. Online passwords
  8. PIN numbers
  9. Home/business addresses
  10. Mortgage information
  11. E-mail addresses

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