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Bank account privacy tips

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Monday, February 11, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Banks use a combination of safeguards to protect their customers' personal data. But customers themselves also must take a part in safeguarding their personal financial information.

This means you.

That's a message from the American Bankers Association, ABA, a trade group in Washington, D.C., that represents banking companies and is urging bank customers to take an active role in protecting their privacy.

Banks protect their customers' privacy because they know the bank's future depends on it, but customers are the first line of defense, ABA President Frank Keating said in a statement.

"A partnership between banks and customers is the most effective way to protect financial data," Keating said.

To help you ensure the safety of your personal information, the ABA offers these tips:

  • Create complicated passwords, like "c0mplic@t3d," which is based on an easy-to-remember word, but contains letters, numbers and, if allowable, a symbol.
  • Don't use birth dates, pet names or simple passwords like 12345 or ABCDE.
  • Change your passwords at least three times each year.
  • Don't share your passwords with family members.
  • Be mindful of who has access to your personal information.
  • Monitor your accounts online frequently rather than waiting for your monthly statement.
  • If you notice unusual or unauthorized activity, notify your bank immediately.
  • Equip your computers and mobile devices with up-to-date antivirus and malware protection.
  • Never disclose your personal financial information in response to an unsolicited email, no matter how official it seems.

If you are a victim of fraud or suspect your personal information has been compromised:

  • Call your bank and credit card issuers immediately.
  • File a police report.
  • Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies.
  • Consider placing a victim statement in your credit report.
  • Keep records of all your contacts, regarding the incident. Write down names, job titles and phone numbers in case you need to recontact those individuals or refer to them in future correspondence.

How about you? Are you looking out for your identity?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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