ID Theft and Fraud Protection

Protect Your Family's Financial Records

Don't lose information to a disaster or an identity thief

Protect Your Family's Financial Records
 

You may have an alarm system for your home, and you probably make a point of locking your house and car doors. But do you take the same care to secure your financial records? Adopting the right security precautions puts you in the best position to weather the storm when the worst happens, whether that's a natural disaster or a case of identity theft. Here's how to safeguard your family's financial records.

Create strong passwords for online accounts. When setting up online banking or investment accounts, avoid choosing easily guessed passwords such as your initials, your birth date or your child's or pet's name, says Leslie E. Linfield, executive director of the Institute for Financial Literacy, a South Portland, Maine-based nonprofit focused on promoting effective financial education and counseling. Effective passwords include a variety of characters and are at least eight characters long (longer is better). Linfield recommends using a combination of lowercase letters, uppercase letters and numerals. 

Store important documents securely. Keep copies of your Social Security card, tax returns, will, power of attorney and other critical financial papers in a safe deposit box. If you live in an area that's prone to natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes or wildfires, Linfield recommends creating an emergency “go kit” with these documents as well as copies of your marriage certificate and insurance information. "Scan those documents and put them on a flash drive in a three-ring binder along with important phone numbers, like those for your banker and insurance agent," she says. Online backup services like Carbonite, Mozy and Jungle Disk can also store important documents securely online.

Use secure web connections to access financial information. Never use public Wi-Fi hot spots to check your bank or investment accounts—these connections are easy pickings for hackers. Instead, log on through a secure web connection, such as a password-protected home network. Then look for signs that the bank's website is secure, such as a URL that starts with "https" instead of "http" or a "locked" icon in your browser's status bar. "If you have any questions about whether your connection is secure, call the institution and verify what you should be looking for," Linfield says. When you've completed your session, log out rather than just closing the browser window.

Don't click suspicious email links. Be wary of emails from your bank or other financial institution. Even if the message looks legitimate, it could be a phishing email designed to steal sensitive information or lure you to a counterfeit website. "A bank is never going to ask you through email for your Social Security or account number," Linfield says. Instead of clicking an email link, call the bank or log into your account by typing the bank's secure URL yourself.

Shred unnecessary financial papers. If mail such as credit card offers or bank solicitations gets into the wrong hands, you could fall victim to identity theft. According to Linfield, medical identity theft is also on the rise, so take care with medical and insurance documents, too. Store tax returns and W2s for seven years in case you're audited. Prevent identity theft by shredding credit card bills once they're paid and bank statements after a year.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

Related

Investment and Insurance Products:

Are Not FDIC or any other Government Agency Insured   Are Not Bank Guaranteed  May Lose Value 

© 2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc

equal housing logoSunTrust Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. Member FDIC

equal housing logoEqual Housing Lender. SunTrust Mortgage, Inc

SunTrust, SunTrust Mortgage, SunTrust PortfolioView, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, SunTrust Premier Program, AMC Pinnacle, AMC Premier, Access 3, Signature Advantage Brokerage, Custom Choice Loan and SunTrust SummitView are federally registered service marks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Services provided by the following affiliates of SunTrust Banks, Inc.: Banking products and services are provided by SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. Trust and investment management services are provided by SunTrust Bank, SunTrust Delaware Trust Company and SunTrust Banks Trust Company (Cayman) Limited. Securities, brokerage accounts and insurance (including annuities) are offered by SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., a SEC registered broker-dealer, member FINRA, SIPC, and a licensed insurance agency. Investment advisory services are offered by SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc., a SEC registered adviser. GFO Advisory Services, LLC is a SEC registered investment adviser that provides investment advisory services to a group of private investment funds and other non-investment advisory services to affiliates. Mortgage products and services are provided by SunTrust Mortgage, Inc.

SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. - NMLS #2915, 901 Semmes Avenue, Richmond, VA 23224, 1-800-634-7928. CA: licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, IL: Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee #MB-989, Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, 100 W. Randolph, Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60601, 1-888-473-4858, MA: Mortgage Lender license #-ML-2915, NJ: Mortgage Banker License - New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, NY: Licensed Mortgage Banker—NYS Department of Financial Services, and RI: Rhode Island Licensed Lender.

"SunTrust Advisors" may be officers and/or associated persons of the following affiliates of SunTrust Banks, Inc.: SunTrust Bank, our commercial bank, which provides banking, trust and asset management services; SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., a registered broker-dealer, which is a member of FINRA and SIPC, and a licensed insurance agency, and which provides securities, annuities and life insurance products; SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc., a SEC registered investment adviser which provides Investment Advisory services.

SunTrust Private Wealth Management, International Wealth Management, Business Owner Specialty Group, Sports and Entertainment Group, and Legal and Medical Specialty Groups and GenSpring are marketing names used by SunTrust Bank, SunTrust Banks Trust Company (Cayman) Limited, SunTrust Delaware Trust Company, SunTrust Investment Services, Inc., and SunTrust Advisory Services, Inc.

SunTrust Bank and its affiliates do not accept fiduciary responsibility for all banking and investment account types offered. Please consult with your SunTrust representative to determine whether SunTrust and its affiliates have agreed to accept fiduciary responsibility for your account(s) and if you have completed the documentation necessary to establish a fiduciary relationship with SunTrust Bank or an affiliate. Additional information regarding account types and important disclosures may be found at www.suntrust.com/investmentinfo.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey is the trade name for the corporate and investment banking services of SunTrust Banks, Inc. and its subsidiaries, including SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC.