Prevent Identity Theft
Identity Theft can happen to anyone but there are certain steps that you can take to proactively reduce the risk that it will happen to you.
- Do not give out your Social Security number to any company or person that you do not know. When a company uses a Social Security number to identify its customers, ask to utilize a different number for identification purposes.
- Before disclosing any personal information, make certain that you know why it is required and how it will be used.
- Buy a shredder and shred information that you no longer need that contains any personally identifiable information and account numbers. Bank statements, credit card statements and receipts, billing statements, even "pre-approved" credit card offers should be shredded before discarding them.
- Guard your mail against theft. Promptly remove your incoming mail once it is delivered and always place outgoing mail in a post office collection box, not in your mailbox with the flag up. Consider installing a lockable mailbox or rent a P.O. box at your local post office or shipping business. Many banks and creditors now offer a service to send you a statement via email instead of sending a paper statement through the mail. Contact your bank or creditor to see if this service is available to you.
- Keep the personal information you have at home and at work in a secure place that only you have access to.
- Do not carry extra credit cards, your birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, or other cards that display your personal information in your wallet or purse unless absolutely necessary.
- Create unique passwords and PINs (Personal Identifications Numbers) and avoid using easily available information such as your mother's maiden name, date of birth, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Contact your banks and creditors to establish passwords on each of your accounts.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with a bank or creditor if a statement doesn't arrive. Peruse your statements carefully making sure that all of the charges shown are legitimate and that you made those charges.
- Cut down on the amount of junk mail and "pre-approved" credit offers that you receive. Thieves often use these unsolicited mailings to obtain credit in your name or to commit other frauds.
- Contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) to be removed from many national mailing lists.
- To opt out of receiving pre-screened or pre-approved credit card offers, call (888) 567-8688.
- Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus at least once a year. Review the reports to be sure that no one else is using your identity to open new accounts or to use your existing accounts.
To order your credit report, call (800) 685-1111 or write:
PO BOX 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To order your credit report, call (888) 397-3742 or write:
PO BOX 9532, Allen, TX 75013
To order your credit report, call (800) 888-4213 or write:
PO BOX 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
Additional Identity Theft resources can be found at the following websites: