In the age of social media, spreading the word to consumers on how to keep their identity safe is as vital as ever, and Wells Fargo is helping do just that.
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, the country’s fourth largest bank by assets, has come up with seven pieces of advice on protecting personal information – the kind of tips that can help keep credit card and identity fraud at bay.
The bank co-sponsored the Javelin Strategy & Research ID Fraud Survey, which found that the number of identity theft victims in the United States rose 12 percent to 11.1 million last year. Total losses from identity fraud climbed 12 percent to $54 billion, up from $48 billion in 2008.
Wells Fargo co-sponsors the report because it “helps raise consumer awareness on identity fraud,” said Teddy De Rivera, executive vice president, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group. “We believe this research helps consumers become better informed about current fraud attempts and methods.”
Here’s a brief rundown on Wells Fargo’s seven tips for protecting personal and account information:
- Don’t over-share information on social media sites:
Avoid being overly sociable. Social media sites encourage the sharing of personal information that can help arm identity thieves, such as your birthday, your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, or names of high schools you attended. Use common sense in determining what information to keep private. Keep your mobile and home phone numbers, email address, and home address private.
- Monitor your financial records & accounts on a regular basis:
Make sure you keep track of credit card, loan and banking statements, and that they arrive on time. Consider using online tools such as alerts sent to your email address or mobile device to quickly detect suspicious activity on your accounts. Regularly review your online banking accounts to make sure everything is in order. Also, monitor your credit reports periodically.
- Report fraud incidents to the authorities:
“Nearly half of all fraud victims surveyed in the Javelin survey filed a police report, resulting in more arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of fraudsters and identity thieves than in the prior year.”
- Be in the business of protecting your information:
Small business owners should hedge by separating “accounting responsibilities” and implementing other practices such as locking away accounting documents and keeping track of visitors in and out of your office. Also, reconcile and monitor account activity frequently.
- Go electronic with online access:
Regular account review using online banking can help identify fraudulent transactions sooner. You can also set up automatic alerts to help protect against fraud.
- Think defensively:
Make sure all of your computers’ anti-virus software is up-to-date. Also install browser, operating systems and software updates as soon as they are available.
- Be savvy with mobile devices:
Never disclose personal information, such as account numbers, passwords, or any combination of sensitive information through text message, email, or over the phone.
See the full text of Wells Fargo’s “Tips to Protect Your Money & Your Information.”