Better Business Bureau offers tips to protect passwords from computer hackers

Better Business Bureau offers tips to protect passwords from computer hackers
Photo provided by MGN Online
Consumer Alert

POSTED: Saturday, June 1, 2013 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Saturday, June 1, 2013 - 12:04pm

In our tech-savvy world, everything is readily accessible and convenient, even banking.

Gone are the days of waiting in line at the bank or even waiting for your computer to boot up. Now you can access your bank account from anywhere in the world via your smartphone or tablet.

However, consumers need to be more cautious than ever when banking through any device, as hackers can prey on the unsuspecting. Identity thieves rob hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

The Better Business Bureau  suggests these steps to help you reduce your risk of identity theft:

• Guard your Social Security number. It is the key to your credit report and banking accounts and is the prime target of criminals.

• Monitor your credit report. It contains your Social Security number, present and prior employers, a listing of all account numbers, including those that have been closed, and your overall credit score. After applying for a loan, credit card, rental or anything else that requires a credit report, request that your Social Security number on the application be truncated or completely obliterated and your original credit report be shredded before your eyes or returned to you once a decision has been made.

• Shred all old bank and credit statements, as well as “junk mail” credit-card offers, before trashing them. Use a crosscut shredder. Crosscut shredders cost more than regular shredders but are superior.

• Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit-reporting bureaus. This reduces the number of preapproved credit offers you receive.

• Add your name to the name-deletion lists of the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service used by banks and other marketers. Contact the government’s Do Not Call lists at

• Do not carry extra credit cards or other important identity documents except when needed.

• Make photocopies of the contents of your wallet, including both sides of your driver’s license and credit cards so you have all the account numbers, expiration dates and phone numbers if your wallet or purse is stolen. Keep in a safe place.

• Do not mail bill payments and checks from home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and washed clean in chemicals. Take them to the post office.

• Do not print your Social Security number on your checks.

• Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.

• Examine the charges on your credit-card statements before paying them.

• Cancel unused credit-card accounts.

• Never give your credit-card number or personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust the business.

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