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Tips for helping residents prevent ID theft

The economy is strong and consumer confidence is up, meaning people are spending more than ever before. Unfortunately, all those transactions could put them at a heightened risk of identity theft.

Identity theft is on the rise. In 2016, 15.4 million U.S. consumers experienced some form of identity fraud, up from 13.1 million in 2015 and 11.6 million in 2011, according to a Javelin Strategy & Research report.

As identify theft rises, apartment operators can help residents mitigate their risk of identity theft. Here are some tips:

Host a shredding event
Organize a shredding party in the leasing office or somewhere onsite to give residents a chance to shred documents containing sensitive personal information for free. Such documents may include packing slips and invoices related to online gift purchases as well as credit card statements, utility bills and ATM receipts.

Residents should always shred anything that contains their name, address, phone number, Social Security number or bank account information before they dispose of them. Identity thieves have been known to go “dumpster diving” to get sensitive information out of people’s trash.

A shredding party can be a great way to mix and mingle with residents in a relaxed setting while offering them an invaluable service. Provide refreshments, play games and enjoy a bit of camaraderie.

Urge residents to shop only on secure websites
Remind residents to make sure that HTTPS — instead of just HTTP — appears in the URL of websites they are visiting. This shows the site is secure. Web browsers also typically display the image of a padlock or the word “secure” near the web address when a site offers a secure connection. Also, encourage residents to only use Wi-Fi networks they trust and recommend that that they avoid shopping and conducting other financial transactions on public networks found in coffee shops, restaurants and stores.

Offer residents a credit monitoring service
Apartment operators should consider offering residents access to an ID theft detection service at discounted rates. Multifamily companies can help residents keep their financial house in order by providing a service that offers identity theft alerts, real-time credit monitoring and lost wallet protection.

And if your apartment company doesn’t work with a vendor to provide this kind of solution, you should still urge residents to sign up for a detection and credit monitoring service.

Remind residents to stop mail delivery when they’re out of town
An overflowing mailbox is an open invitation to an identity thief to take and then rifle through documents and packages that may contain sensitive personal information and data. Tell your residents to avoid this vulnerability by putting a hold on their mail delivery on dates when they’re traveling.

Urge residents to be skeptical
There are so many different scams floating around online, from pop-up ads and unsafe websites to phishing emails. Remind your renters to exercise real caution and skepticism by not visiting websites or opening emails they are unsure about. Also stress the importance of regularly changing their passwords and installing and updating security software on their computers. 

Identity thieves know that strong economies present a prime opportunity, and they’re ready to steal your residents’ identities. But by taking the steps above, apartment operators can help keep their residents safe.

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