As online and mobile commerce continues to grow in popularity, cases of identity theft are also on the rise. In 2016, a reported 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft and fraud, which was up 16 percent from the previous year.

Though it has become increasingly easy to fall victim to fraudulent activity, practicing smart online and mobile purchasing habits can help protect you against criminals looking to steal your identity.

While there are several ways in which someone can use your stolen account or credit card information, some common cases of identity fraud are “card-not-present fraud,” or transactions made online and via telephone where the cardholder does not need to present the physical card to complete the purchase; and account takeover fraud—where thieves use stolen login information to access a person’s accounts.

To help members catch these potential cases of identity theft early, FSU Credit Union has put various security measures in place that will allow you to monitor your account activity and ensure that it stays secure.

Through Alert U, a text and email system offered by FSU Credit Union, you can monitor both credit and debit card accounts at no charge. To enroll, members must simply enter the card number to the account they wish to monitor.

After you register your account, you will begin receiving SMS messages or emails when your card is used for purchases over a selected amount, international purchases, online purchases and declined purchases.

Users can tailor the types of service alerts they receive to meet their specific needs, and they can opt out of the service at any time by simply texting STOP to a designated number.

Though the service is free through FSU Credit Union, there may be other charges through your wireless carrier, so members should contact their carriers for complete pricing details.

If you are alerted to any peculiar purchases through the Alert U system, you should contact FSU Credit Union immediately to report it. It is important to report account irregularities as soon as possible to ensure you do not have to pay for any unauthorized charges.

Members who do not use Alert U can still help protect themselves from identity theft by regularly reviewing your transaction history. To access your FSU Credit Union credit card activity, register your credit card online and obtain information concerning your most recent transactions as well as the transactions made for the last three months.

FSU Credit Union members also are eligible to receive identity theft protection at a special, low price through CyberScout. CyberScout will keep a watchful eye on your credit information to keep your identity safe and privacy levels high. If CyberScout detects potentially unscrupulous activity, you will receive an alert followed by access to 24/7 full resolution support from experienced fraud specialists who will help you every step of the way.

Enroll your cards today at our Online Alerts page, and learn more about CyberScout here.

Finally, another way to increase your fraud protection is to create unique, complex passwords for each of your accounts. Many thieves test lists of passwords stolen in one breach against other accounts. So, if you are utilizing an old email password for your checking account, you are putting yourself at increased risk for identity theft that could cost you not only money, but also adversely affect your credit score.

If you have any questions about the Alert U system, CyberScout, or reviewing your credit and debit card activity online, stop by any branch or call (850) 224-4960 or 877-GO-FSUCU (877-463-7828) (toll free).

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