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3 Identity Theft Precautions You Haven’t Taken – But Need To

Data breaches continue to make the news. A 2018 University of Phoenix study found that nearly half of US adults experienced a personal data breach in the past three years. While you can’t control which companies are hacked, you can take steps to protect your data before becoming a victim of a large scale attack or another type of identity theft. These preventative measures only take a few minutes to put in place.

Frequently changing your passwords, installing and regularly updating anti-spyware on your mobile device and avoiding simple debit card PINs like 1234 are just a few actions we hope you’ve already taken to protect your personal information. But, don’t stop there. Consumers can further limit or possibly prevent damage caused by fraudsters by taking a few additional steps to protect personal information online and off.

Here are three identity theft precautions you likely haven’t taken, but need to.

Set Up Transaction Alerts

Many credit card companies and financial institutions offer fraud prevention services at no additional cost to account holders. For example, We encourage members to sign up for SMS Guardian, a free service to help combat debit and credit card fraud. Members using the service receive a text alert when the following occurs:

  • Transactions are declined
  • An out-of-state transaction is processed
  • A single debit card transaction over $200 or credit card transaction over $500
  • All internet or online transactions
  • Transactions completed outside of the United States

The text notification allows the member to review the transaction to determine if it's fraudulent. If fraud is suspected, the member can reply immediately. The debit or credit card will then be blocked to prevent further unauthorized usage until the issue is resolved.

Sign Up for Two-Factor Authentification

Two-factor authentification goes a step beyond requiring the correct password to access an account. Companies that offer consumers this second layer of protection will send a text or email containing a one-time use code after the password is entered. To access the account, the user must input the code within a specified time limit. Simply knowing your password will not allow the fraudster to access your account and make changes or purchases under your name.

Mobile phone and social media services are among the many types of companies that encourage and offer two-factor authentification. This feature can be activated or removed at your discretion.

Protect Sensitive Information Offline

A stack of hardcopy credit card offers, old credit union statements, receipts and more may be collecting in your home. You plan on tossing them in the recycle bin after you confirm you no longer need them. Recycling is good for the environment but creates another opportunity for would-be thieves. Unfortunately, criminals are known to mine through trash to get their hands on a victim’s personal information. Shred these documents instead.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that documents with only bits of personal information have no value to thieves. They can use certain elements such as your date of birth, name, and address to execute synthetic ID theft. This rising form of identity theft occurs when fraudsters combine several elements, real and fake, to create a false identity.  For example, a new identity can be created by merging your name, address and phone number with someone else’s Social Security number.

Taking precautions now can save time and headaches later. Stay alert of identity theft trends making headlines. Setting aside a few minutes to set up these additional barriers can help keep your personal information safe.


If you’re notified of a company data breach that may have contained your information, follow the recommendations provided by the company. Remember, thieves look for victims who make their job easy.

If you think your identity has been stolen, start the recovery process at You’ll need to provide details regarding the situation. They’ll create a personalized recovery plan to help you determine the next steps to repair the damage.

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USA Patriot Act

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. What this means for you: when you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver's license or other identifying documents.

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