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Are You Really You?

It seems that every week I’m either phished or pharmed by some imposter trying to be my bank, my credit card company, or my credit union. They claim my account has been compromised and they instruct me to link to another site and provide details about myself. Usually, I notify the institution to either 1) warn them of this imposter sending emails to their account holders or 2) see if it is real. (Some of the emails are darn good, while some imposters seem to have failed 3rd grade spelling.)

While I admit that I hate to be paranoid, we must each act to protect our identity. What should we do?

  1. Don’t give out financial information such as your checking account, credit card, or Social Security numbers, unless you can trust the one who is making the request. If you’re suspicious, do not give them any information. Never.
  2. Notify your institution about suspicious emails, phone calls, or other contacts.
  3. Be aware of phishing (bogus emails) and pharming (redirecting a website’s traffic to another, bogus website).
  4. Notify your institution of suspicious charges on your account.
  5. Put your outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service collection box.
  6. Shred unwanted financial statements.
  7. Verify the data in your credit report ( www.equifax.com , www.experian.com, & www.transunion.com)
  8. Receive a free annual credit report ( www.annualcreditreport.com)
  9. Report lost or stolen checks or credit cards immediately.

While nothing is guaranteed, these steps will help put those who are out to harm or steal from others where they belong. Moreover, it will not put you on the detour around the road to Financial Success.