5 Easy Ways to Protect Your Identity

Oct 24, 2014

Identity theft is a growing crime that comes in a variety of forms and affects about 15 million Americans every year. It can wreak havoc on your personal finances, credit score and reputation. Being aware and prepared can save you a lot of time, money and stress.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge. Personal information includes your Social Security number (SSN), birth date, debit or credit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs), and passwords. See below for five easy way you can help keep your information more secure.

1. Sign up for direct deposit.

Check with your employer or state or federal benefit provider about registering for direct deposit. By keeping your physical check out of the mail, you'll greatly reduce the chances it get stolen and leaves you temporarily without access to your money.

2. Shred your personal information.

Old statements and medical records contain sensitive information that makes identity theft easy for dumpster-diving thieves.

3. Review your credit report annually.

The three major reporting companies (Equifax, Experiean and TransUnion) are required to give you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months if you ask for it. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to order your free reports. Review your report carefully for warning signs of actual or potential theft. These can include mention of a credit card, loan or line of credit that you never applied for.

4. Pay close attention to your statements.

Double check all credits and debits and notify your provider immediately if something unusual appears.

5. Sign up for electronic statements.

By signing up for electronically delivered credit card, bank and financial statements, you're information is likely passing through less hands and is easier for you to keep track of. Start with your Washington Federal accounts! Our eStatements are faster, convenient, safe, and better for the environment. Start by signing into online banking at washingtonfederal.com, clicking on "eStatements" at the top of the page, select "State Preferences," and choose "Electronic Only".