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BBB offers 10 simple steps to stay secure in 2017

The start of a New Year brings the opportunity for new beginnings. It’s the perfect time to resolve to take 10 proactive steps to protect your personal and financial information. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) offers some simple tips to help consumers stay secure in 2017.

“These are just some fairly basic things people can do to limit their exposure to potential fraud and schemes,” said Barb Grieman, Senior Vice President of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Any steps a person takes to reduce that risk may save them in terms of potential losses and headaches.”

Simply by checking off these 10 resolutions, consumers start their New Year feeling more secure:

*   Check your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review it closely for errors and report any inconsistencies you see. Checking your credit report helps you catch signs of identity theft early.

*   Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry by visiting donotcall.gov/, or by calling 1-888-382-1222. This should reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive at home. You can also register your cellphone number on this list. 

 *   If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of unsolicited offers you receive through the mail, visit dmachoice.org/.

 *   Dispose of older bank and credit card statements, expired credit cards and unwanted credit card solicitations securely by shredding them with a cross-cut paper shredder.

 *   When using public Wi-Fi connections, don’t make any purchases, do any online banking or share any sensitive personal information. Public means public, and fraudsters are known to frequent Wi-Fi hotspots and sometimes even set up hotspots of their own! Always verify the network before accessing it.

 *   If you receive an offer or solicitation, research the company or charity for free with Better Business Bureau at bbb.org or 800-646-6222.

 *   Never respond to phone calls or emails asking to “verify” your personal information. Your bank, your credit card provider, the IRS – none of these organizations will call or email asking for your confidential information. They already have it on file.

 *   Secure or lock sensitive personal documents around your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having work performed in your home.

 *   Don’t store credit card numbers or other financial information on your smartphone or tablet. Add a passcode lock (or security password) on your smartphone or tablet.

*    Change your email and social media passwords and ‘beef up’ your security by creating hard to crack passwords and employing two-factor authentication whenever possible. Choose passwords that are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. Incorporate a combination of numbers, capital letters and symbols. Avoid using the same password for all of your accounts, and never share your passwords with anyone else.

Though it’s nearly impossible to protect yourself completely from fraud and schemes, consumers who take these steps will be doing a lot to keep themselves safe and secure in the coming year.

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