How to help prevent identity theft

Protecting yourself from identity theft can feel like a big job. But there are a number of straightforward steps you can take to help keep your information secure. Read on for five tips to help protect yourself against identity theft and safeguard your financial accounts.

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Regularly check credit reports and banking accounts. Log in to your accounts at least monthly to monitor activity, and review your credit report at least annually.

Sign up for alerts about account activity. Many banks allow you to set up alerts so you’re automatically notified of suspicious activity. Make sure your contact information—particularly your cell phone number—is up to date so you receive alerts promptly. If you’re a Bank of America customer, you’ll be automatically enrolled to receive alerts about unusual account activity; you can select additional alerts by signing up for Online Banking [Link: https://www.bankofamerica.com/onlinebanking/online-banking.go] and clicking the Alerts tab.

Turn on your firewall. The FBI recommends you use a firewall for individual computers. A firewall is a piece of software that serves as a defense against hackers. Some computers come with firewalls preinstalled, but if yours didn’t, you can purchase one online. Just make sure to turn it on, change the password and keep filters in place in order to receive the benefits.

Install security protection software on your computer. There are different types of software available to protect your computer. There are different types of software available to protect your computer, including antivirus software (which helps prevent hackers from monitoring your computer use). Some computers have such software built in, but if yours doesn’t, you can generally purchase programs inexpensively. If you’re a Bank of America customer, you have free access to IBM’s Trusteer RapportTM security software. [Link: https://www.bankofamerica.com/ privacy/online-mobile-banking-privacy/trusteer-rapport.go]

Use secure passwords. A strong password is eight or more characters and combines letters, numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for each financial account, and never use the same password for a financial account and a social or shopping website.

Password: 9@S5w0R6

If you suspect credit card fraud or identity theft:

·         Notify your credit card company.

·         Report it to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

·         File a police report.

·         File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

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