How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
The important thing to remember is to use caution when disclosing personal and financial information. There are a number of ways you can help protect yourself from identity theft:
Sign up for a credit monitoring service.
Each of the three major credit bureaus provide some sort of credit monitering service, this can provide you peace of mind while giving you a check up on your credit report.
Sign the back of your credit and debit cards, or place "See ID" on the signature line.
This minimizes the possibility of someone else using your card.
Keep your credit card receipts.
Don't throw your receipts away. They can help you double-check your bank and card statements, and identify any suspicious activity.
Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
If you lose your credit or check cards, or if they are stolen, it's important that you contact your bank immediately.
Cancel and destroy all unused cards.
Call the banks to cancel the cards and destroy the cards before throwing them out. When you destroy the cards, make sure the numbers are no longer recognizable.
Leave out personal information on your checks.
Don't include driver's license, telephone, or Social Security numbers on your checks. By omitting this information, you keep confidential information away from prying eyes.
Promptly collect incoming mail.
Your incoming mail has clues to your personal information. Make sure you collect it promptly.
Shred your junk mail.
Make sure you shred all your junk mail before you throw it away – especially credit card offers which could contain confidential information.
Don't drop your outgoing mail in your mailbox.
It is safer to drop your outgoing mail in official Postal Service collection boxes than your mailbox – especially if your mailbox is not locked.
Review your credit reports.
Make sure they're error-free. There are three credit-reporting agencies whose reports can show different information. It's best that you review them at least once every six months or once a year.
- Don't give out your personal information to unsolicited requests.
Unsolicited email and pop-up Web page requests for personal information can be scams. If a request seems suspicious, call the company to check it out.
- Keep your personal information in a safe place.
Don't store a list of credit card numbers, PIN numbers, or passwords in your wallet or on your computer. Memorize this confidential information.