Security begins with you

January 9 is National Law Enforcement Day, an opportunity for Americans to call attention to the brave men and women who are dedicated to watching our communities and protecting us from criminals.

It’s always reassuring to know that law enforcement professionals are a call away when we need help, but it’s also important to remember that our personal security actually begins with our actions. The police can help after someone steals from us, but we can minimize the chances of that happening if we follow some simple steps.

Stay alert. When you’re out and about, be careful with cash and credit cards. Make sure you don’t leave your valuables visible in your car. When you go to use an ATM machine, be aware of your surroundings. If you’re uncomfortable, find a safer location.

Reconcile accounts. Reconciling your checking account every month is a great way to double-check your math and make sure nobody is stealing from you. In simple terms, reconciling is a way to make sure that our records and yours agree, and that there haven’t been any authorized withdrawals or mistakes in your account. You’ll find instructions for reconciling on your monthly statements.

Check your credit. Once each year, you can obtain a free copy of your credit reports from each of the three largest credit reporting agencies. Just visit or call 1-877-322-8228 and answer a few questions. When you receive your report, make sure it’s accurate and doesn’t contain accounts you didn’t open. The report will explain how to correct any errors or problems.

Use strong passwords. Good passwords can keep the bad guys out of your accounts and private information, but too many people use simple passwords like “123456” or their names. Come up with a more complicated approach that uses both upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters, and you’ll make it much harder for anyone to access your information.

Avoid scams. The old saying that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is continues to be solid advice. Many people who get caught up in scams are lured in by greed. If something doesn’t seem legitimate, it probably isn’t, so before you spend money or invest, check with someone you trust.

Start saving. While putting money in a savings account may not be what you think of as security, it can keep you out of trouble. Getting in the habit of adding money to a savings account every month means you’ll have an emergency fund so you can pay cash for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or a need to replace your microwave. Knowing you have that fund provides great peace of mind!


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