Unfortunately, in today's world, identity theft has become a reality that we all have to contend with. Learning how to prevent it is important.
Below you'll find several tips that will reduce your changes of falling victim of this crime.
- Monitor your credit report - each year, request a free credit report from the three credit reporting
companies at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. Monitoring these reports can help spot fraud. Be sure to request credit reports for minors who live in your household. Identity thieves often target young people whose credit is not yet established.
- Cancel credit cards you no longer use.
- Monitor your account activity - visit your financial institution's and other creditors' websites at least once a week to review your account activity, so you can quickly spot any suspicious activity. At the very minimum, closely review your monthly statements.
- Pay attention to billing cycles and statements - Be alert to bills, account statements, or other information that does not arrive on time. Contact your financial institution/vendor if you don't receive your monthly bill.
- Don't share personal information - do not respond to unsolicited e-mails, telephone calls, or text
messages that ask for personal information, such as account numbers or Social Security numbers.
- Protect you PINs and Passwords - when creating PINs and passwords, avoid using your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, your phone number, and other obvious strings of numbers (for example: 1234).
- Don't let the trash be a treasure - Use a shredder to destroy receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, returned checks and any other private documents you no longer need.
- Do not order checks with your Social Security number or driver's license number printed on them.
- Be proactive with the cards you carry - keep a list of all the cards you carry, account numbers, and
contact numbers in the event of lost or a stolen purse or wallet. Carry only the minimum amount of identifying information and number of credit cards that you need.
- Store personal information in a safe place - keep you Social Security card, checks and other important documents in a secure place in your home. Don't store confidential information on computers, memory sticks, cell phones and other electronic devices.
- Protect your computer - never click on unsolicited emails. Use firewalls, anti spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer. Install updates to software as needed.
- Guard your mailbox - Don't leave payment envelopes in the mailbox with the flag up, instead drop
payments directly into a post office collection box. If you've ordered a new box of checks, consider
picking it up at the bank, rather than having it delivered to your mailbox. Pre-approved credit offers can be a danger. Identity thieves can steal these from your mailbox and attempt to get credit in your name. You can opt out of receiving these offers at optoutprescreen.com or by calling 888-567-8688.