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Tips for Staying Safe Online

It's never been more important to take steps to protect your personal and financial information online. Keep yourself safe by following these tips.

Protect your password. Never divulge your password or other information used to logon to our systems to anyone. We will never ask you for your password, which should be your secret alone – and should be chosen to be as secure and difficult to guess as possible.

Keep an eye out for scammers. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity or a company with whom you do business. Whether an unexpected request comes via text message, a phone call or an email, don't send money, give out personal information, or provide login information.

Do your research. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like 'review', 'complaint' or 'scam'. Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like 'IRS call'. You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.

Don't pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, fixing your computer or a job. They might even say you've won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.

Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don't. Wiring money through wire services is risky because it's nearly impossible to get your money back. That's also true for reloadable cards and gift cards. Government offices and honest companies won't require you to use these payment methods. The IRS will never demand that you pay with gift cards!

Talk to someone. This is probably the most important thing you can do. Nothing is so important that you have to respond immediately. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Think who you can talk to about the email or phone call.

Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel whether you purchase anything or not. Research the company and read the cancellation policy before you agree to a free trial. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don't recognize.

Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox. And, if you spot a scam, report it at Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.

Keep your home computer secure. Stay up to date on security patches and anti-virus and backup your data to another system.

Additional tips for safety

Only carry information that you need in your purse or wallet. Leave your social security card at home.

Don't provide your SSN unless you can't avoid it. Very few companies require a SSN in order to do business. Banks, financing companies (including car dealerships) and companies that issue credit cards are exceptions. There are others that may need you SSN. But, push back if you are uncertain. You can say, 'no' and walk away.

Credit Cards:

a) Keep a list of your credit card numbers and cardholder services phone numbers at home. If your credit cards are lost or stolen, you will need to call the card company and let them know as soon as possible.

b) Cut up unused or expired credit cards.

c) Shred your Credit Card statements.

d) Notify your credit card company if you are travelling. They will want to know where you are going, when you are leaving and when you are returning

e) Set up alerts for your credit cards, they can alert on number of transactions/day, balances, etc.

Social media can be a marvellous thing. But, sharing too much can be dangerous. Never tell people when you are travelling on social media.

Shred documents at home before disposing of them.

Monitor your credit report. You can get a free credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus. Log into to sign up. Or you can call each of the three bureaus and request a credit hold. With that, you would be notified of any attempts to open a credit file in your name.

Equifax: 1-800-685-1111

Experian: 1-888-397-3742

Transunion: 1-800-916-8800

Remove your name from marketing lists. Contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). They are required to notify their members to exclude your address for up to 5 years.

US Postal mail

a) Retrieve your mail promptly.

b) If you are sending mail, bring it to the post office or post drop box. Do not leave it in your mail box for someone to steal.

Reporting Suspected Fraud or Phishing Emails to Equiniti

Forward suspicious emails and websites to Only suspicious emails and websites should be sent to this address. Thank you for helping us detect and stop phishing and fraud.

Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information '10 Things You Can Do To Avoid Fraud'.