ID theft prevention is essential.  Sharing your personal information with untrustworthy people or companies (whether you intend to or not) exposes you to all types of fraud and theft, not just those relating to your personal identity. There are many ways that identity thieves can reach you. In order to truly protect your identity, your credit and your possessions, you should use a wide range of methods for ID theft prevention.

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Banks and Accounts:
  • Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place.
  • Maintain copies of your bank statements and checks for at least one year in case you need them for a dispute. Keep in mind that most banks only give you 60 days from the date of the statement for you to contact them about any errors.
  • Try to avoid writing personal information on your checks such as telephone or social security numbers.
  • Use a paper shredding machine to shred all sensitive paperwork, such as: bank statements, credit card statements and investment account statements. Be sure to purchase the type that utilizes cross cut particles rather than confidential strips as the strips can be easily reassembled by an identity thief.

Passwords
:
  • Use unique passwords whenever possible.  When creating passwords, use an alphanumeric system (i.e., combination of numbers and letters) to ensure your password is impossible to guess and difficult to crack. You can request to get a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to associate with your accounts for additional security.
  • Do not store your passwords or account numbers on personal handheld devices (PDAs) or cell phones.

Online
:
  • Be wary of fake job postings on online career web sites, as well as people calling you with "special offers" and things of that nature. These people use these postings to gather personal information under the guise of needing it for a background check. You should wait until you have an in-person interview prior to sharing your social security number, etc.
  • When you receive unsolicited email by a company or individual you don't recognize, avoid clicking on the "Remove Me" link that's provided, which often serves as a way for the solicitor to determine which email addresses are active and which are not so that more solicitations can be sent to the active accounts.

Important Docs
:
  • Be very protective of your birth certificate.
  • Never carry your social security card in your purse or wallet. Instead, memorize your social security number. However, be very hesitant about providing it to third parties.

Mail
:
  • When you're on vacation, don't allow your mail to collect in your mailbox while you're gone. Have a family member or friend retrieve the mail daily or use the Hold Mail Service at the post office which allows your mail to be held between 3 and 30 days. This can be done in person, via the phone (1-800-ASK-USPS) or on the USPS website.
  • Drop your mail off (especially bill payments) at a secure location such as the Post Office or at a drop box.

Get started Start Your Credit Freeze Request Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Credit Freeze Request Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.