Ten Tips To Prevent Identity Theft
- Mail – Deposit all outgoing mail in mailboxes or in the mailing slots at your local post office. Never leave bill payments in your apartment lobby for the mail carrier to pick up. Before you leave on vacation, call or visit your post office and request that your mail be held until you return.
- Social Security Number – Do not carry your SS card in your wallet or hand bag. Give out your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary – for example, on a job application, Insurance Coverage or Bank accountants. Do not include it when you are writing a personal check at a store or applying for membership at a video rental shop, grocery store price-savings club, and so on.
- Personal Information – Keep all your personal and account information in a safe place, preferably a locked drawer or cabinet in your house. If you are having renovations, house cleaning, or other types of service work done in your home. Keep all your personal information in a lock box out of sight.
- Shredding – Shred health insurance statements, credit card offers, and anything else containing your Name, Address or Social Security number before discarding them. Use a cross-cut shredder rather than a straight-cut one.
- Debit Cards – Avoid using debit cards if at all possible. Never write your PIN (personal identification number) on the back of your card(s) or on a piece of paper in your wallet or handbag.
- PIN# – Do not choose a PIN that uses digits from your birth date, Social Security number, telephone number, pets name, kids name or street address. (use a phrase – 2 to 3 words)
- Credit Cards – Carry only the card(s) you think you’ll need on a given day, and keep them separate from your wallet–for example in a zippered compartment in your handbag. If your wallet is stolen, your cards will not be lost. When using your card to make a purchase, keep an eye on the clerk during the transaction and get the card back immediately.
- Account Info – Never give your account number over the phone unless you initiated the call to make a purchase and you’re sure the company is reputable. Keep a record of all your account numbers, expiration dates, and the phone number of each credit card issuer in a secure place at home for quick reference in case of loss or theft.
- Social Networking – Do NOT put your date of birth or address on social networking sites like “Facebook or MySpace”. When you make an online purchase, be sure you’re in a secure section of the Web site; the “http://” address should change to “https://” (the “s” stands for secure), and a lock or key symbol should appear in a lower corner of the Web page.
- Receipts – Save your receipts, and when your billing statement comes, open it promptly and compare the two. If there is a charge you know you did not make, call the card issuer immediately and follow up by writing to their billing inquiries address.
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