WEALTH WISE

10 Tips to Protect Your Identity

Worried about the security of your digital footprint? These simple precautions may reduce your chances of having your identity stolen and protect your financial reputation from being compromised.

1. Closely guard your Social Security, account and credit card numbers. If someone calls asking for this information — pretending to be your dentist's office, for example — call back to a number you've used before to make sure it's a legitimate request.

2. Make sure you're using a secure wireless network. When using your mobile device in public, turn off sharing to keep strangers at bay. When shopping online, be sure the URL starts with https (remember "s for secure") and log off when you're finished so no one can reset your password and keep shopping on your dime.

3. Be picky about passwords. Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols for stronger, harder-to-crack passwords — and change them regularly.

4. Keep your phone locked with a password. These days, having your app-loaded smartphone stolen means criminals can access your bank account, emails and other sensitive data — instantly.

5. Examine credit card statements for irregularities each month. Look for small charges — under $10 — from an unfamiliar website. Scammers count on the notion that few people actually checking their monthly bills.

6. Safely dispose of personal information. While it's still important to shred hard copies of your financial documents, credit card offers and the like, it's also a must to wipe your data from your electronic devices before trading them in or donating them.

7. Have new checks delivered to a locked mailbox. When ordering new checks from your bank, only have them mailed to you at home if your mailbox is locked

8. Routinely update your software. Security patches addressing the newest cyberthreats will automatically add another layer of protection.

9. Regularly clear your Internet history. Keeping your recent site visits private is especially important if you use a public computer.

10. Check your credit report for unauthorized accounts. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months — but you have to ask for it.

Looking for more ways to keep your identity safe? Fifth Third Private Bank clients may be eligible for complimentary identification theft protection with automatic daily credit monitoring, tools to manage your credit score and identity theft insurance. Learn more about Fifth Third Identity AlertSM online or in your local Fifth Third financial center.