Check it out: Everything is a little easier when you have a list of steps to help you accomplish your objective. Here are some things you can do.

Keep your information close

Keep the sharing circle tight. While having more open conversations with your loved ones about money can be beneficial, share specific personal and financial information with a trusted few. Be cautious about who you tell your Social Security Number or account numbers and balances.

Never give personal information to someone you didn’t call.
Phone calls are still the number one contact method for fraudsters. In a 2018 study, Experian reported that almost 70% of fraud victims noted the phone as the initial-contact method.

Shred financial statements.
Once you read your credit-card bill or account statement, put them through the shredder. A small shredder for your home can come in at less than $50—far less than the potential cost of time and money an identity theft.

Bring in the mail. Your mailbox may be full of statements from your bank, credit-card companies, or even Financial Advisor. Those documents are a treasure trove of personal and account data for thieves.

Protect yourself online

Use strong passwords.Combine upper-and-lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. And avoid the most popular password: 123456.

Think before you click.Emails “phishing” for your data often include infected attachments or links to fake websites. Don’t click on either one, especially if it’s to a financial institution. Instead, call the company (or your Financial Advisor) directly, at the number on your statement or credit card—and not the one in the email.

Be proactive

Expect a tax refund? File your return early. Beat thieves from fraudulently claiming a tax refund by filing well before the April 15 deadline.

To learn about the professional background, business practices, and conduct of FINRA member firms or their financial professionals, visit FINRA’s BrokerCheck website: http://brokercheck.finra.org/