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Research indicates that identity theft is on the rise despite continued efforts to keep data secure and crack down on offenders. Big business and government can’t stop the problem alone. It requires the diligence and effort of every citizen to remain vigilant. Learn how to protect yourself against identity theft with these simple steps:

If you receive an unsolicited phone call, email or other correspondence, do not provide personal information. Instead, ask for a phone number and name so you can call them back, then verify that the information is the same as that provided on your billing statement or contact information. Sophisticated scammers are able to mimic email, websites and even toll-free call-back numbers so that they can entice unsuspecting consumers to provide information.

Manage Passwords
Always use encryption when doing online banking or shopping where you are providing private information. Also, take time to change account passwords frequently. Remember, never share your user names or passwords with others and create unique ones for each individual online account.

Use email alerts to notify you of unexpected withdrawals or large account transactions on banking or credit cards. This will help you to stay alert to potential fraudulent activity on your account.

Wireless Warnings
Although wireless hot spots in cafes and restaurants are convenient, they are a security nightmare. Avoid banking or conducting sensitive business via a wireless network. Instead, wait until you are in a more secure location or use additional encryption if necessary.