Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Along with the convenience of online shopping, mobile banking and constant access to e-mail and social networking sites, our increasingly virtual world also brings a heightened risk of identity theft. As consumers, we are frequently required to swipe credit cards, enter social security numbers and provide license numbers in order to authenticate ourselves as credible clients.

All the while, predators are constructing sophisticated methods of using even the smallest amount of our personal data to gain complete access to all of our information. While we are powerless to stop the illegal efforts of would-be hackers and identity thieves, we can take some easy measures to ramp up the security of our personal data.

First and foremost, apply common sense.From our childhood we were taught that it is unsafe to trust strangers. The same applies to identity protection - do not give your ATM/debit cards or credit cards to anyone. Always avoid paying by credit card if you suspect the business does not use adequate safeguards to protect your personal information, and when shopping online, don't disclose credit card or other financial account numbers unless the web site offers a secure transaction.

Better safe than sorry. Never be afraid to contact your financial provider whenever you have a question or concern. If you applied for a credit card and didn't receive it when expected, call the financial institution. Upon receiving a new credit card, sign it directly. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately (keep the phone numbers on the back of your credit cards handy so you can cancel them quickly if needed.) Remember to keep an eye on expiration dates. Contact the issuer if you don't receive a replacement prior to the expiration date.

The phrase "out of sight out of mind" should never apply to your credit cards. Make sure to cancel all unused credit card accounts. Even though you do not use them, their account numbers are recorded on your credit report.

Enroll in electronic statement deliveryif you feel comfortable doing so; electronic statements are harder to steal than paper ones.

Finally, consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. Fifth Third offers Fifth Third Identity AlertSM, which may be available to you complimentary if you have a Fifth Third Private Bank Checking Account.

While we cannot promise you invulnerability, if you follow these precautions you will certainly minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. For more information on how you can protect your identity and financial well being, contact your Fifth Third Private Bank advisor.

Fifth Third does not provide legal advice. Consult with your attorney for advice pertinent to yout personal situation.

* The circumstances reflected in this illustration are representative of actual clients of Fifth Third Private Bank. To ensure the privacy of our clients, the names and some of the facts have been changed.