Identity Theft Prevention

Protect Your Credit Card Information

  • Look out for skimmers. These nearly undetectable card readers steal debit and credit card information and are sometimes placed over credit card devices at ATMs and gas pumps. To check for a skimmer, try to shake the credit card device. If there is any movement, do not insert your card.
  • Watch your credit card expiration dates. If you do not receive a replacement card, contact your financial institution. If they issued a replacement card, contact PrivacyMaxx immediately.
  • Reduce your risk of identity theft by getting cash back in stores while making a purchase rather than using an ATM to withdraw cash. When fueling up your car, go inside to pay rather than using your credit card at the pump.
  • Never let your credit or debit card out of your sight. Unfortunately, there are cases of identity theft where unscrupulous cashiers steal credit card information from behind the counter.
  • Keep an eye out for "shoulder surfing." Strangers behind you could be looking to gain access to your PIN. Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Use a single card for holiday shopping to easily monitor your purchases and identify any abnormal activity or transactions.
  • Don’t throw away any credit card receipts without destroying them first.

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Check your account balance and transactions frequently.
  • Shred and destroy documents with personal information prior to throwing them away.
  • Take notice of when your monthly financial statements are mailed. Notify us and your financial institution if you do not receive a statement.
  • Check your mailbox daily and bring in your mail.
  • Call the post office when you go out of town to temporarily halt mail delivery.
  • Don’t respond to emails, texts, or phone calls with personal information. Ask the sender/caller to send you information by mail.
  • Regularly change your usernames and passwords.


Stay Alert!

Early detection is critical in protecting the identities of you and your loved ones. Call (800) 676-5696 if you suspect any fraudulent activity.

Internet Security and Safety

  • Press the log out button when you’re finished with accounts on websites like Facebook or Twitter. Even if you've closed the window, certain websites may keep you logged in. The "log out" or "sign out" link is sometimes hard to find, but it's usually in the top right (or upper left) and always worth the effort. Many websites indirectly "talk" to each other and almost all websites conduct some form of tracking.
  • Do you have a cellphone or tablet? Take advantage of your phone’s lock and privacy settings right now. If you lose your phone, the lock feature will provides an initial level of protection for your personal information.
  • Don’t publish personal information in social media. There's often something in your profile that would easily answer your security questions on banking and other websites. According to a study by Javelin Strategy and Research, 68% of people with public social media profiles shared their birthday information--and 45% shared the year, too. They also found that 63% shared their high school name and 12% shared their pet’s name. Multiple studies over the years have shown that many victims of ID theft knew the identity thief!
  • Consider using a “false” answer that you would know. For example, you might use "orange" as your first pet's name, even if it was really "Fido."

Phishing & Email Scams

  • One of the sneakiest tricks used by identity thieves, especially for credit fraud, is called phishing. Phishing scams are used by cyber criminals to trick the user into entering their personal information (or, more likely, the username and password for a website with personal info) into a fake webpage designed to look like the real one, which is known as spoofing.
  • Do not click links in an email unless you are absolutely certain the source can be trusted. Remember, these emails can be very tricky to distinguish from the real thing. A red flag would be if the message contained urgent language suggesting you take immediate action. If the email contains threats to close your account, or if it contains multiple grammatical and spelling errors, there's a very good chance that the source is illicit. Remember, emails alerting you to "act now" on a security risk are sometimes the emails containing security risks. If you're concerned about the content of the message, it's better to contact the referenced company directly or visit the website by typing in the trusted ".com" URL yourself.
  • One way to check for phishing is to hover your mouse cursor without clicking on the link to see if the address matches the link that was typed in the message. This isn't a foolproof method, and a partial mismatch doesn't mean the email is a scam; however, you'll have more information to use your best judgment. When in doubt, don't click on unknown links and never reply to emails from anyone you don't know.

Password Security

Although major websites are beginning to require stronger passwords, meeting the minimum security requirements is exactly that: minimum requirements. There’s no substitute for a quality password. Remember: your idea of “hard to guess” might be quite easy for a hacker using sophisticated software to figure out. Here are tips to make your passwords more secure: 

  • Password should never be only 6 characters in length. Each additional character greatly enhances password security.
  • Passwords should not contain only lowercase letters. Simply dangerous. Even adding one uppercase letter makes a difference.
  • Add symbols. Very effective when done right, symbols such as #,!,$,%,& provide significant security. Whereas “spooky” is instantly cracked, an adjustment like "Thats$p00ky!" could take years to break. Notice there’s an uppercase letter, two numbers, and two symbols added (thatsspooky is not even close to the same security level).
  • Add numbers, but not just to the beginning or end of the password. Software that's designed to guess passwords are developed to predict what most people do.
  • Using an actual word is not secure. At 4 billion calculations per second, how long do you think a dictionary word, such as spooky, would take a hacker's computer to discover?
  • Hackers know common passwords. Following the above tips isn’t enough if your “trick” is common. QWERTY, and its lowercase counterpart qwerty, is one of the most used passwords. So is 1234567. They might not be in the dictionary, but they're not original.
  • Use a different password for different websites. No matter how good your password is, using it on another site is a security risk.
  • Change passwords regularly. Even the best password needs to be changed.


Identity Theft Protection Coverage

Identity theft protection and monitoring can be added to our homeowners, condo, and renters insurance policies.