CHICAGO, Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Nowadays it seems like every member of a family owns a Smartphone or tablet, and while convenient, these devices also offer thieves the opportunity to help themselves to your personal information. In fact, 7% of Smartphone owners were victims of identity fraud last year – this incidence rate is one-third higher than that of the general public.
"Even though the old-fashioned ways of stealing a person's identity are still prevalent, thieves are beginning to focus on the personal information they can obtain from everyday electronic devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and even copy machines," said Mary Biron, BMO Harris Bank Chief Security Officer. "Consumers need to stay in front of these trends and learn to protect themselves through an array of different options."
There are numerous techniques that thieves use when committing identity theft, from more traditional methods such as stolen wallets, to emerging methods through the Internet and social media. Biron recommends taking the following steps to protect you and your family from identity theft.
Safeguard Your Personal Information:
- Carry only necessary identification. Do not carry your Social Security Card or write your Social Security number on a check.
- Shred papers with any of your personal information - especially credit card applications.
- If you have the option to choose a password on your accounts, don't use your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, a series of consecutive numbers, or a single word that would appear in a dictionary.
- Retrieve incoming mail as soon as possible from your mailbox. If you must pay a bill through the mail, use a secure mailbox.
- When mailing your bills, don't leave payment envelopes containing checks in your mailbox; use a secure mailbox.
- Don't give out your Social Security number to anyone unless you have initiated the contact and know who you are dealing with.
- Be suspicious of telephone, text message or email requests for personal information.
Monitor Your Personal Information:
- Review your financial statements carefully. Question transactions that look unfamiliar. Also, if you don't receive your statement when you're expecting it, contact your financial institution.
- Sign any debit cards and credit cards as soon as you receive them.
- Report stolen/lost checks, debit cards, and credit cards immediately.
- Check your credit report at least once a year. Consumers are eligible for a free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Click here for reports and additional information. Once you get your report, look at it carefully.
- Is all your information correct?
- Are there any accounts or addresses that aren't familiar?
- Does the number of inquiries seem reasonable?
Learn more on how to protect yourself from identity theft.
About BMO Harris Bank
Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris BankSM is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.
SOURCE BMO Harris Bank