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Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft and Fraud


• Create passwords/PINs not easily associated with you, and memorize them. Do not use your children’s names, for example, or any other item of information that may be unique to you or easily obtainable via Internet or social networking sites. Do not use the same passwords and PINs to access other accounts or services. Never share your passwords and PINs with anyone. Change your passwords and PINs regularly. When available consider using more than one method of authentication such as a password and a biometric requirement (i.e. thumb print or iris scan) or a one-time password and challenge question.


• Use caution with email and websites Beware of suspicious e-mails that may appear to be affiliated with legitimate companies or organizations. Do not click on any embedded links in suspicious e-mails as this may install malicious software or download a virus onto your computer or mobile device.

To protect your privacy and account security, do not send account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, passwords or other private information via Internet e-mail. Secure communication with your financial advisor or the Merrill Edge™ Investment Center is possible by using the Secure Message Center which is available via the MyMerrillTM and Merrill Edge websites.

Keep your computer's virus and firewall software current.

Merrill Lynch offers Trustee Rapport Malware Defense Software. To learn more or download go to:


• Use caution with web-sites and when browsing the Internet. Be fully certain of the security and authenticity of a web-site before typing in any personal information. When in doubt, do not provide your online logon IDs, passwords or any other information over the Internet. Install and maintain updated anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software, and use personal firewalls to protect your computer. Avoid using free, public Wi-Fi for banking transactions or any other transaction using your confidential information.


• Discuss the risks of identity theft and fraud with your family Talk with your children and elderly relatives about the risks of divulging personal information in person, on the phone, via the internet (especially social networking sites) and through e-mail. Set alerts that notify you immediately of suspicious activity on your accounts, so that you can quickly take action to resolve potential fraud.


• Safeguard your at-home information Use a crosscut shredder to shred your financial account statements, credit and debit card statements, credit and debit card offers and other sensitive information you are throwing away. Keep your credit and debit card numbers, their 1-800 phone numbers and your driver’s license number in a secure place in the event your wallet is ever stolen. As an extra precaution, do not print your Social Security number or driver’s license number on your checks.


• Mobile Device Security Update your mobile device operating system regularly, as mobile devices are essentially small computers that need to be updated with the latest security protection and patches.

  • For maximum security, download the mobile application directly from your financial institution’s web-site, and use it on the go instead of an unsecured web browser.
  • Guard your personal information on your phone or tablet device by using strong passcodes. Use caution when browsing websites, downloading applications, performing financial transactions and sharing personal information or location.
  • Do not respond to suspicious fraudulent texting, calls or voicemails. Requests for personal information or a call for immediate action are almost always a scam.



Stay informed regarding mobile security issues in the news and be aware of fraudulent mobile banking applications. Criminals may develop and publish fake mobile applications in an attempt to steal your online credentials. Note: The Merrill Lynch mobile application still requires you to enter your online ID and password before accessing your financial information.


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