National Consumer Protection Week

Consumer Protection Week

While we will continue protecting your information and reminding you of ways in which you could fall victim to fraud throughout the year, this past week was a great time to focus solely on how we can all be more cognizant of things that put us as consumers at risk.  As we wrap up National Consumer Protection Week for the year 2020, we want to make sure that you are well-equipped to handle anything that you may encounter online or in-person. Here are just a few tips for you to keep in mind!

How can you protect your privacy?

Read every site’s privacy policy before you submit any of your information.  Know if your information will be shared with anyone else through that site and also be aware of whether or not your information is being encrypted, which it should be.  A lock icon in the bottom right corner of the window signifies that your information is being protected and will only be able to be read by the appropriate party. Sites should encrypt your data when your information is stored so that it is protected and cannot be hacked.

Along with becoming acquainted with privacy policies, you should make sure that you are only doing business with credible companies that you trust, avoid submitting credit card information online whenever possible, avoid using debit cards for online purchases, and try to devote one credit card to online purchases so that you can limit the amount of charges that a theft could accumulate.

What should you do to protect yourself when using social networking sites?

Social networking sites make it easy for us to show everyone our lives and they seem harmless because we feel secure since there is no physical interaction and we may also put information out for our friends to see but forget that others will see it as well.  So while these sites may seem harmless, it is important to limit the amount of personal information that you put out there, as attackers may be ready to use that information.  

Remember that the internet is a public place, so anyone can see anything that you post, make sure you take a look at the settings on your profile.  If you do not want everyone to see everything, consider making your page private, but know that it is still possible for your information to be seen by others.  Finally, do not post anything that has your personal information on it, such as your address or phone number or anything that shows your personal schedule on it.

What are the signs of identity theft?

There are a few different signs that your accounts have been hacked and your identity has been compromised.  You will most likely notice very quickly that there has been unusual activity in your account. Charges that you know you did not make or that seem unusual.  This is a very good indicator that your identity has been stolen. Some other signs include phone calls or bills for accounts or services that you do not have or do not subscribe to, failure to receive your regular bills, or unexpected denial of your credit or debit card when you go to make a purchase.  If you notice any of these things, make sure to follow these next steps.

What should you do if you think your identity has been stolen?

If your identity has been stolen, or you suspect that it has been, there are a number of resources that can help you figure everything out.  First, visit, a trusted government website that will provide you with checklists to go through, sample letters, and links to other helpful resources for you.  They will connect you with someone to speak to and also help you develop a plan of action, or a recovery plan, and help you put that plan into action. A couple of other things that you can do include contacting credit reporting agencies or visiting websites for the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Department of Justice, or the Social Security Administration.


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