How to Protect Your Personal Finances from Identity Theft

Contributed by FCFCU

When someone uses your personal information – your name, Social Security number, credit card – without your permission, that’s identity theft. When they do it to commit fraud, that’s a crime.

Identity theft is a growing threat, but if you prepare correctly and protect yourself in advance, it is possible to limit the damage.

A free seminar at Fresno County Federal Credit Union can help you protect your identity. The Identity Theft Prevention seminar will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 6-7 p.m. at the Cedar and Nees branch. You’ll learn how crooks get your personal information, how to minimize risk of identity theft, what to do if you’re a victim and where to get help. To reserve free seating, visit

According to government sources, 10 million people have their identities stolen every year!

Identity thieves can rent apartments, make purchases on credit cards and even establish telephone accounts in your name. Worse, you may not discover the theft for years – until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and find charges you didn’t make.

It’s relatively easy for someone to steal your identity – take action to keep your identity safe. While you’re out shopping, someone can lift your wallet, go through your unwatched belongings, or snoop over your shoulder. Scavengers go through your trash cans, or your mailbox. When businesses are hacked or hard drives are stolen, your records can be compromised.

Online identity theft, as a matter of fact, is a fast-growing category. You’ve probably received unsolicited e-mail that promises payment if you provide bank account numbers. Remember, no legitimate retailer would ever ask you to submit personal data or passwords through email. (If you receive email from someone you don’t know, or if any e-mail or site makes you feel uneasy, delete it.)

From now on, keep all of your personal identification to yourself. Here are more ways to guard your identity and protect yourself from theft:

  •   Never carry your Social Security card or number in your wallet or purse
  •   Check your credit report yearly – obtain your free credit report from each credit bureau at
  •   Don’t turn the digits in your Social Security number into part of your PIN
  •   Don’t tell anyone your PIN (and don’t carry it in your wallet or purse)
  •   Always look for safe websites when shopping online (the URL will start with https://)
  •   If you think you are an identity theft victim, report it right away to your financial institution, the credit bureaus and call the ID Theft Hotline at 877-IDTHEFT.
  •   Shred any papers with personal information in it, especially offers for credit you receive in the mail.
  •   Be sure to attend the free seminar at Fresno County Federal Credit Union on “Identity Theft Prevention.” It’s Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 6-7 p.m. at the Cedar and Nees Branch. Reserve free seating by visiting

At Fresno County Federal Credit Union, members have access to a full range of financial services, including no-cost checking and savings accounts, the low rate Visa Rewards credit card, free mobile and online banking with Bill Pay and Mobile Check Deposit and professional budget management. Members receive highly personalized service, and the essential services needed to manage finances with ease.

Visit Fresno County Federal Credit Union at or call (559) 252-5000 for more tips and tools.