Tricom Funding

Protecting Sensitive Information

Identity theft and related fraud are the fastest growing crimes in the world, which is why protecting personal sensitive information is an increasingly important task. Even though companies and governments spend billions of dollars annually on safeguarding their systems and information, deterrence is everyone's responsibility.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses non-public personal information such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers without authorization to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can seriously impact credit ratings, and be costly and time-consuming to clean up.

This page serves as a good starting point for understanding the steps which can be taken to protect against identity theft and fraud.


STEP 1: Protect computers and mobile devices.

Most people rely on electronic devices to conduct business and interact with each other. No matter what type of computing device is used, it needs to be secure. Criminals develop software commonly called "malware", which when installed can give the thief access to your computer, your files, and your internet browser. Malware can collect just about anything you type into the browser, including passwords and credit card numbers. Malware can also allow a criminal to monitor the internet sites you visit and even re-route or "hijack" your browser session without your knowledge.

Malware is frequently delivered hidden in an email attachment, or when visiting a compromised website. The best defense against malware is to ensure that your computer software is regularly updated, and to install software security tools which monitor and protect the computer and your interactions with the internet. These security tools go by many names: "anti-virus", "internet security suite" and "anti-malware". There are many good products available for purchase - go with a trusted brand from a known retailer, and avoid free downloads from the internet as they frequently contain malware.

Make certain that your computer is running the latest versions of software, including the operating system and internet browser. Ensure that your operating system and security software are currently supported and that the vendor issues regular security updates. To determine if your operating system is currently supported (Windows only) visit this Microsoft website:

If you store sensitive information on your computer or mobile device, make sure it is encrypted and/or protected with a strong password. Use a variety of strong passwords to protect your online services such as email and banking - do not use the same password for everything.


STEP 2: Keep a close watch on your personal information

Your personal information resides in many places – know exactly where. Identity theft can start from obvious places like a lost wallet, to less obvious places such as your mailbox and trash. Wherever it resides, take steps to protect your personal information.


STEP 3: Be Alert.

Vigilance is the core of protecting your identity and personal information. Know who you interact with electronically, whether via email, phone or web. If you receive an email that you did not expect, and it contains links or attachments, the best practice is to immediately delete it.

If someone contacts you via phone claiming to be from your bank, and requests that you verify sensitive personal or account information, immediately hang up. Banks will never contact you for this information - if you are not sure, call them back using a number you already have (not one the caller gives you).

Do not click on web links or visit unknown websites. Never download something unless you know its true origin and that the source is legitimate.

Monitor your credit reports for questionable activity – the three major credit reporting agencies provide free annual reports. Click HERE (external link) for more information.


STEP 4: Take Action.

If you suspect that personal sensitive information may have been lost or stolen, act quickly. File a police report, and obtain a copy for reference. Notify your financial institutions. Contact the three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and place a "fraud alert" on your credit so that all requests for new credit accounts must be verified by you over the phone.

For more information on preventing and detecting identity theft and related fraud, visit the FTC website by clicking HERE (external link).