Protect your bank account by following these recommendations:
- Monitor all paper and online bank statements monthly to make sure they arrive at the scheduled time and contain no discrepancies.
- Safely store all items that contain your personal information, such as bank statements, credit card statements and medical records.
Avoid credit card fraud and identity theft by following these tips:
- Passwords protect all of your accounts. Choose a strong password that does not relate to your personal information or contain your mother's maiden name.
- Request credit cards and bank cards with your picture on them.
- Check your credit card statements for any fraudulent charges; notify your financial institution ASAP if you notice anything strange.
- Close all inactive accounts.
- Don't use an obvious number, such as your birthday or the last four digits of your Social Security number, as your PIN.
- Sign all new credit cards immediately.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately.
- When traveling, use your cell phone while sitting in airports, train stations, or walking on city streets. If you do not have a cell phone and must use a credit or calling card at a public phone, purchase a prepaid calling card. Be wary of "shoulder surfing" thieves watching you from a distance in an attempt to steal your credit card/PIN number as you enter it on the keypad and potentially charge thousands of dollars to your card before you realize what happened. Always stand directly in front of an ATM machine, and cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN.
- While shopping online, use credit cards rather than debit cards. Debit card information is easier to steal, and it takes longer to recover any stolen funds.
If something happens, report the loss or theft of your credit cards and your ATM or debit cards to the card issuers as quickly as possible. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies.