The Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) of the Federal Trade Commission received more than 2 million complaints from consumers in 2013, with 14% of those complaints related to identity theft. Two of the most common forms of identity theft reported were credit card fraud and government benefits / documents fraud.
Unauthorized access to your information may lead to very costly consequences. Identity thieves can use your credit card for extravagant purchases or withdraw part or all of your savings. They may even liquidate your investments and steal your earnings. Furthermore, these thieves may redirect your mail, open new bank accounts and apply for credit cards or loans.
Protecting your personal information also protects your investment. AOG Wealth Management, a Potomac asset management company, shares the following tips on securing your information, both online and offline.
Securing Personal Information Online
The key to securing online information is knowing when and where to store and dispose of personal information. The Federal Trade Commission advises against giving personal information through the mail, over the phone or over the Internet, unless you were the one who initiated the contact. Make sure you know the person you’re dealing with before disclosing any sensitive details.
When making any kind of online transaction, make sure you’re on a secure web page. Look for a lock icon on your Internet browser’s status bar. Create strong passwords for your bank, credit card and other accounts. You should also have a password for your computer.
Keep Hardcopy Personal Information in a Safe
One of the basic ways to protect your information offline is to store documents and other important belongings in a safe. At work, avoid leaving your purse or wallet on your desk. When going out, bring only an ID and the cards that you plan to use. Unless you’re visiting the doctor’s office, carry only a photocopy of your Medicare card with all the information blacked out, except for the last four digits of your card.
If you need to disclose personal information to anyone, ask why you have to give it and how they will secure it. When you need to dispose of documents and expired cards, be sure to shred them rather than throwing them away. Destroy the labels on your prescription bottles before throwing the bottles away.
Identity theft is a serious and growing problem across the country. Don’t leave your assets unprotected. AOG Wealth Management, an asset management firm located in Washington, DC, can help you plan strategies to keep your assets safe. Schedule a complimentary consultation today.