Take charge of your identity

Dec. 20, 2010 at 6:20 a.m.

With the holiday season upon us, now is the time to take action to protect your identity. Yoakum National Bank employee Cynthia Morris wrote these tips to remind you of very important ways to prevent identity theft at this busy time of year. You are in the best position to protect your own identity by taking these precautions.

1. Use passwords that are difficult to guess - Do not use passwords that relate to names, birthdates, your Social Security number, or address. Do not use the same password for everything. Once the thief knows one piece of valuable information, he has access to all your personal data.

2. Do not write passwords on your debit or ATM card or keep them in your purse with the card. This gives the thief easy access to your account.

3. Carry only the identification and bank or credit cards you need when traveling or shopping. Keep copies of credit cards in a safe place, in case they are stolen you can immediately report the correct account numbers.

4. Review your monthly statement promptly and carefully. Immediately notify your bank of any unauthorized transactions. Shred or tear up your statements, checks, and other sensitive personal information.

5. Destroy and cancel old, unwanted, or unused credit cards. Cutting them up is not enough. Canceling them will ensure a statement isn't intercepted in the mail by a would-be thief.

6. Don't give private information to anyone unless you initiate the call. Keep your computer safe by not opening files from strangers or companies you don't know.

7. Never lend your password to anyone, ever. You may be responsible for their actions if the information gets into the wrong hands.

8. Guard your Social Security number. Never carry it in your wallet or write it on checks. Don't use it as a personal identification number for your ATM/debit cards.

9. Do not allow your credit card out of your sight when paying for products or services. Protect your PIN when using an ATM or making purchases at a merchant location.

10. Periodically check your credit report to see if there are loans or credit cards outstanding that you don't know about. To order your free annual report visit www.annualcreditreport.com.



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