Identity Theft Prevention
The Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives – a quick, easy and convenient way to pay your utility bill, request service and find ways to reduce your energy usage and costs.
We want to make it easy for you to do business with us, any hour of the day or night – safely and securely. We are committed to safeguarding your confidential account information and securing your utility account.
That’s why we’re providing these tips on protecting your personal information. You can also go to ftc.gov/idtheft to learn what to do if your identity is stolen or your personal or financial information has been compromised – online or in the "real" world.
- Share only what you have to. Don’t give out information such as your Social Security number, account number or mother’s maiden name unless it is truly necessary to complete a transaction.
- Create secure passwords. Use passwords that have at least eight characters and include numbers or symbols. A 12-character password is stronger than one with eight characters. Avoid common words, change your passwords regularly (at a minimum, every 90 days) don't use the same password for each online account you access, and don’t give your passwords to anyone.
- Respond with care. Don’t respond if you get a message – by email, text, pop-up or phone – that asks you to call a phone number to update your account or give your personal information to access a refund. If you need to reach an organization with which you do business, call the number on your financial statement, or use a telephone directory.
- Call ahead. Do some independent research of online entities so you know who they are. Type the website's name into a search engine and look for reviews. Find a working phone number so you can ask questions. If you find unfavorable reviews or cannot find a working phone number, you may be better off doing business elsewhere.
- Protect your computer. Make sure you check your web browser and virus protection software for updates regularly.
- Think “security” on blogs and personal websites. Even seemingly innocent references to your friends, family or work can provide details needed to steal your identity. Refer to people by nicknames only and think twice about the content of any photos you choose to post.
Identity Theft Prevention Measures
- What is Northeast Utilities doing to help to protect the confidential information of its residential and small commercial and industrial customer accounts? - Beginning November 1, 2008, the utility companies of Northeast Utilities implemented additional identity theft prevention measures to help us to safeguard our customers' confidential account information and to ensure only authorized access.
- Why are these additional protections being implemented now? - The timing of this implementation is in advance of the Federal Trade Commission scheduled date for enforcement of the June 1, 2010, deadline for creditors and financial institutions to develop and implement written identify theft prevention programs to detect, prevent and mitigate “red flags.” See 16 C.F.R. 681.2 and Appendix A to Part 681. A red flag is any activity that may indicate a possible attempt at identity theft related to an existing customer account or the opening of a new account.
- Could these additional information requests mean longer hold times for callers? - To the extent that callers are required to provide identifying information in order to access customer information, this may lengthen call time. In the event customers experience any delays, we appreciate and thank our customers for their patience.
- What did Northeast Utilities' utility companies do prior to November 1 to prevent unauthorized access to customer information? - Northeast Utilities already has existing policies and procedures to mitigate foreseeable risks to customer and company information and to verify a caller's identity. Northeast Utilities has a new customer service information system (C2) that enhances NU's electric and natural gas companies' abilities to implement these additional measures. The Program, which became effective November 1, 2008, builds additional safeguards into the policies and procedures that the Company already has in place to protect utility accounts.
- To comply with the Program, what additional information, if any, will be required for a customer to access an existing account? - Individuals requesting account information or access will be asked additional questions regarding information about a customer's account in order to verify his or her identity and right to access the information. For security reasons, the specific measures are confidential.
- What additional protection does the Program provide to customers? - The Program provides customers with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the Company is taking appropriate measures to protect and prevent their utility accounts and information from unauthorized access.
- What other companies are required to implement these new federal measures? - The identity theft prevention measures are required of financial institutions and creditors servicing customer accounts involving multiple payments and transactions, including:
- Financial institutions (banks, credit unions)
- Finance companies
- Credit and debit cards issuers
- Mortgage brokers
- Telecommunications companies
- Utilities (water, gas, electric)