Monument Resource Center

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9 Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Fraud

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2021, there was an identity theft or fraud report filed every six seconds! That’s only counting people who filed a report with the FTC so the real incidence is even higher. And while your identity could be stolen by a lone hacker, cybercrime is increasingly enacted by organized international groups with increasingly sophisticated technology. It feels like an arms race.

Even with our many organizational precautions, we need you to be our partner in keeping your data secure. Here are nine steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft fraud…

Steps to Protect Your Personal Information


1. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your email, financial accounts, social media accounts and anywhere else that offers this security feature. Two-factor authentication requires a second layer of authentication in addition to your password to complete your log in, such as entering an SMS code sent to your phone or approving a push notification. This is the single most important step in protecting your accounts.


2. Freeze your credit at all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion – to keep new credit files from being opened. Credit freeze services are mandated by law and are free; the credit bureaus have other products to sell you, but you don’t need to buy them to freeze your credit.


3. Monitor your financial accounts by signing up for Card Not Present alerts with your financial institution so you find out about suspicious activity as soon as it happens. Also be sure to review your statements regularly and shred all your mail when done.


4. Don’t use unencrypted email to send or store sensitive information like usernames, passwords, PINs, account numbers and personal identification. Instead, we can send each other this kind of information via your eMoney data vault, a SECURE encrypted email, or over the phone.


5. Don’t use your debit card to make purchases online. Always use a credit card. With debit card fraud, money actually leaves your account right away. With credit card fraud, you haven’t lost actual cash. It’s easier to reverse a charge on a credit card than to repay lost cash, so debit card fraud is more complicated and time consuming to resolve.


6. Use a secure network. Have a strong password on your home network and do not use public Wi-Fi at the airport, a hotel or anywhere else for any financial transactions. You can secure a public network connection with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service or by using the Wi-Fi hotspot feature on your phone.


7. Use an encrypted password manager to make it easy to set different and complex passwords for all your accounts. The best passwords are long (the longer the better!), include upper and lower case letters and symbols, are not related to your personal information (sorry, pet names are not a good idea), and do not include any dictionary words. Your password manager can automatically generate long, complicated passwords for you and then remember them when it’s time to log in.


8. Beware of phishing and spoofing. Emails, texts, and phone calls may appear to be from someone they are not. NEVER provide log in information, social security numbers, account numbers or other personally identifiable information through a link in an email or text, or an unsolicited phone call. In fact, NEVER click on a link from an unknown person, especially in a text. Neither government agencies nor Monument will ever contact you by phone or text demanding personal information.


9. Have a backup plan. Use an online backup service or external hard drive, in case your computer is hit with ransomware or destructive malware, and make sure you know how to restore files from your backup if and when needed.

If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft

The crooks are smart and very persistent! If your identity is stolen despite your best efforts, immediately take these steps:

  • Report identity theft to local authorities and at
  • Contact your Monument Wealth Team on the private client line or at to report suspicious activities related to your personal and financial account information. We will work with TD Ameritrade to monitor your accounts.
  • And if you haven’t already done steps 1 and 2 in the list here, DO THEM NOW.

Identity theft is no joke—it’s upsetting, time-consuming, and can be expensive to fix. Prevention is key so let’s work together and use all the tools we have to protect your data.

We are on your team!

Cathleen D. photo

Cathleen D. Phelps

Client Experience Manager

Cathleen has two big drivers-–a challenge and a love of learning. She cannot resist a challenge or a problem to solve, and cannot rest until she’s conquered it. Every morning, Cathleen runs or works out at Crossfit for an energy boost that gets her mind awake and going, ready to face whatever the day brings. She admits there’s always something that needs figuring out, and if she needs to learn something new to do it, that’s even better!

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