Identity thieves steal your personal information to commit fraud. They can damage your credit status and cost you time and money restoring your good name. To reduce your risk of becoming a victim, follow the tips below:
- Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Protect your PIN. Never write a PIN on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet.
- Watch out for "shoulder surfers". Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using pay phones and ATMs.
- Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for more than a day or two.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Keep your receipts. Ask for carbons and incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, etc., to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work. Don't leave it lying around.
- Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
- Check your credit report once a year. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gotten access to your account information.
For more information on reporting identity theft click here.