Keeping your personal information from falling into the wrong hands will help you from becoming another identity theft victim.
Find info via the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards and debit cards.
As soon as you discover that one of your credit cards or debit cards is missing, contact the issuing bank immediately, even if you think you may find it in a day or two. It's always better to be safe than sorry. Most banks will immediately cancel your missing card and reimburse you for any fraudulent charges. In most cases, you'll receive a new card in the mail within a week.
Don't keep your social security card in your wallet.
Sadly, this is a very common mistake. It may be convenient to keep your social security card in your wallet. That is, until your wallet is lost or stolen, in which case the thief now has everything he needs to steal your identity – name and address from your driver's license, credit cards and debit cards, and social security number. Instead of carrying your social security card in your wallet, keep it in a safe place at home.
Never provide your personal information to anyone who contacts you through a phone solicitation.
It is easy for any con artist to pretend he is a legitimate business over the phone. So always think twice before providing your credit card over the phone. If you do provide your credit card number over the phone, be certain that you were the one initiating the call. Better yet, opt out of these telemarketing calls entirely. Get your phone number listed in the National Do Not Call Registry.
Check bills and bank statements as soon as they arrive.
Or if you have online access to your accounts, check them regularly. Be on the lookout for any fraudulent charges. If you notice something suspicious, contact your bank immediately.
Opt out of pre-approved offers.
Call 1.888.5OPT.OUT or visit OptOutPrescreen.com to remove your name from pre-approved credit or insurance mailing lists. You will then receive a form in the mail that you will have to sign and return. You can indicate whether you would like your name taken off the list for five years or permanently. Visit the Federal Trade Commission on Prescreened Credit and Insurance Offers for more information.
Check your credit reports for free.
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, you are entitled to receive one free credit report from the big three credit bureaus every 12 months. Just visit AnnualCreditReport.com. Upon receiving your credit report, look for anything suspicious, i.e. accounts opened under your name that you are unaware of. If you notice anything suspicious, contact the credit bureaus immediately and consider placing a fraud alert on your reports.
- Equifax – 1.800.525.6285
- Experian – 1.888.397.3742
- TransUnion – 1.800.680.7289
Don't list date of birth or social security number on a resume.
There is no reason why most potential employers would need to know this information about you at first glance. Also, if you send your resume to 50 or 100 different employers, there is no telling how many hands your social security number may be in. And a potential employer may not be as mindful as you are about keeping a document like this secure.
Use your ATM card wisely.
Avoid going to the ATM late at night and always be sure no one is looking over your shoulder when you are entering your PIN.
Guard your checkbook.
Since your checks come with your name, address and bank account number right on them, you should guard these with care. Don't leave your checkbook in an unsecured place or your car. If stolen, the thief could write a fraudulent check or even break into your bank account. If you ever notice that any of your checks are missing, contact the bank immediately.
Select strong passwords.
Avoid using words or numbers that other people can easily guess. Using your birthdate or last four digits of your social security number are too obvious to use as passwords or PINs.
Secure personal information in your own home.
Just because you're in your home doesn't mean you're safe. If you have roommates or employ outside help, such as a housekeeper, avoid leaving your mail lying about and be secure your privacy when making any personal phone calls.
Know who else has your information.
Inquire about personal security procedures at your work, doctor's office, university, or any other institution that keeps a record of your personal information. Find out who has access to your personal information, and verify that it is being handled securely. If you feel that your personal information is not being handled properly, contact the Federal Trade Commission or the Better Business Bureau.
Shred the following forms when no longer needed:
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Pre-approved credit card offers
- ATM receipts
- Canceled or voided checks
- Expired passports, visas and credit cards
- Tax forms
What to do if your identity Is stolen.
While these tips are designed to prevent identity theft, even the most scrupulous person is at risk. Should you ever become a victim, contact your banks and credit card issuers, the three major credit bureaus, file a police report and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.