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Proactive Identity Protection: Essential tips for keeping your information safe.

in Protecting Your Identity
identity protection

The more digitally-based our lives become, the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft increases. Identity theft involves unauthorized access to your personal information, leading to potential financial losses and damage to your credit score. To ensure your financial safety, we encourage you to continue reading so that you can better understand the risks of identity theft and how to combat it.

Protecting your identity requires a proactive approach. For credit union members, understanding the scope of this risk is the initial step towards effective “identity protection,” but it is just the first step. Safeguarding one’s identity and finances requires adopting vigilant identity protection strategies. By implementing these online security tips and data privacy measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of identity theft. Stay informed and always prioritize your online security to safeguard your identity and your finances. Remember, the key to “fraud prevention” is vigilance and timely action.

Read on for tips based on suggestions from the National Cybersecurity Alliance to protect your identity:

Identity Protection Steps

  1. Limit the personal information you share on social media.

There was a time when most of us chose easy-to-remember passwords, such as the name of a pet, the street we grew up on, or the numbers representing a birthday or anniversary. Countless people of a certain age chose “8675309,” the famous phone number repeated a dozen times in a top ten hit by the band Tommy Tutone. Then Facebook came along, and we innocently shared all of that information with our friends and acquaintances, including people we may never have actually met in real life. “Happy birthday! Happy anniversary! Meet the newest member of our family – Fluffy!” Then came all those fun quizzes that asked us to name our hometowns, high school mascots, favorite bands, songs, and the first concert we attended. Around the same time, many websites we used began asking us for the same kind of information as “security questions” to make sure of our identity. And then – not coincidentally – people started getting hacked, or worse. Be careful what you share, and with whom. Limit what others can learn about you by looking you up on social media platforms, including Nextdoor, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, what was fun fifteen years ago is foolish today. The less people can learn about you online the better off you are. And change those passwords to something that has no link to your real life, with twelve characters minimum, using upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Even better, use a password generator that stores them for you. The benefits far outweigh the costs – just ask a friend that’s been hacked.

  1. Browse the Internet in Private Mode – Better Yet, Sign Out Completely

In 2020 a class-action lawsuit was filed against Google because its Incognito mode still allowed Google Chrome users to be identified, and their browsing data to be tracked and collected in real time. According to an article posted on Ars Technica, “the plaintiffs also accused Google of taking Chrome users’ private browsing activity and then associating it with their already-existing user profiles.” Needless to say, “private modes” are not as private as the name implies. Internet service providers and websites can still track your activity, and if you use a work computer, so can your employer. Still, privacy features do prevent others from accessing your browsing history from your computer.

  1. Ditch Google

Google collects – and sells – the data it collects from its search engine. Using an anonymous search engine such as DuckDuckGo. SearchEncrypt, or StartPage block ad trackers and do not collect or share your identity and browsing data.

  1. Get Your Own VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Investing in a VPN is a necessity, if you use a lot public wi-fi or purchase things online while traveling. Briefly, VPNs protect your identity and provide an extra layer of security by encrypting your data when you’re online. Most VPN providers offer monthly or annual subscription services, ranging from $3 to $25. It pays to review services and compare prices.

  1. Click with Caution

Do not click on links in an email unless you are sure you know it was sent by a legitimate company or organization. Do not enter personal or financial information on any site to which you were directed by a link in an unsolicited email. Do not click on any link in an email sent to you from someone who contacted you first, whether the contact began on the phone or by email. Do check email addresses carefully and hover your cursor over the link to view the actual destination. Never download anything to your computer from a person or company you do not know.

  1. Secure Your Mobile Devices

Think about how much of your personal data is stored in your phone or tablet, and how easy it would be to access that data you lost that device or had it stolen. Lock all your devices with a passcode, treat them as you would a laptop or home computer, download apps with caution, and keep your software updated.

  1. Consider Using Antivirus Software

Antivirus software can be a pain, expensive, and is sometimes used by fraudsters in spear phishing attacks. However, these downsides do not make it any less effective in defending your computer against spyware, malware, and viruses, all of which can result in identity theft and fraud.  You can put anti-virus software on a pc, laptop, tablet or phone and usually under one subscription plan.

  1. Do Not Track

Apple devices such as iPad and iPhone, will ask for permission to “track the app: across devices.  Be very careful when granting permission.

  1. Downloading New Apps

When adding an App to your devices, review all permissions that the App is requesting.  Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the App supposed to do?
  • Does it need the access that it is requesting to perform it’s functions?
  • Can the App still function if you decline the access?
  • Can I use a different App that doesn’t require invasive access?


  1. Shred It!

Because we spend so much of our time online, that is where we tend to focus our attention when it comes to identity protection and fraud prevention tactics but remember there are two places in your home that can leave you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud: your mailbox and your trash bin. Don’t let your mail gather in your mailbox and don’t toss credit card or loan solicitations into the trash, where thieves can retrieve them and establish fraudulent accounts in your name. Don’t toss anything into the trash that contains personal or financial information – shred it instead. If you don’t want to invest in a shredder for your home, bag those documents and bring them to us on one of our community shred days and we’ll do it for you.

Lafayette Federal is Committed to Our Members’ Financial Well-being

At Lafayette Federal, we know that the rise of online scams puts more and more people at risk of financial fraud every day. We care about our members’ online and financial safety, and our team members are trained to help you spot potential scams or abuse that could harm your financial wellbeing.

If you have concerns about a potential scam or believe you may be a victim to one, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Come into a branch or learn more about protecting your identity online at Lafayette Federal.

Not a Lafayette Federal member yet? You can become a member by completing an online membership application.

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