Preventing Identity Theft

  1. Shred all unnecessary documents containing personal information. Shred credit card offers and convenience checks that you don’t use. Shred all credit card and bank statements except the most current.
  2. Do not carry your Social Security Number Card with you. Minimize the identification information and the number of credit cards you carry with you. Give your Social Security Number only when absolutely necessary.
  3. Destroy old or expired credit cards. Close all inactive credit card and bank accounts.
  4. For ATM and debit cards, choose a PIN different from your address, telephone number, date of birth, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.
  5. Memorize your PIN. Do not write it on your ATM or debit card, or keep it written on a piece of paper somewhere in your wallet or purse.
  6. Keep personal information in a safe place. If you employ outside help or are having service work done in your home, please keep your personal information secure and out of sight.
  7. Do not give out personal information over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated contact or know the business with which you are dealing.
  8. Order a free copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) each year. Order your FREE annual credit reports by phone, toll free at 1-877-322-8228 or online at the Annual Credit Report website.
  9. Periodically check your ATM and debit card activity for unauthorized use. Check bank statements, canceled checks, and credit card bills for suspicious activity.
  10. Ask questions whenever you are asked for personal information that seems inappropriate. Ask how the information will be used and if it will be shared. Ask how it will be protected. If you are not satisfied with the answers do not give out your personal information.
  11. Identity theft thieves “phish” for victims by pretending to be banks, retailers, government agencies and charitable organizations. They do this over the phone, by regular mail, and over the Internet. Don’t take the bait. Never give out personal information unless you initiate the contact. Do not respond to requests to verify your account number, PIN number or password.
  12. Click with caution when shopping online. Only enter personal information on a secure website and shield your computer from viruses and spies to block out hackers. Don’t click on links in pop-up windows or in spam email.