How to reduce your risk of identity theft

How to reduce your risk of identity theft
How to reduce your risk of identity theft
Protect your Social Security number (SSN).
Protect checks.
Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
Avoid carrying cards with your SSN, particularly health
insurance cards, unless you need them to receive care.
Request that your driver’s license number is not the same
as your Social Security number.
Never give out your SSN, credit card number, or other
personal information over the phone, unless you have a
trusted business relationship with the organization and
initiated the call using a verified phone number.
Avoid including your SSN on job applications.
Provide your SSN only when absolutely necessary—for tax
forms, employment, student records, stock and property
transactions, etc.
If your financial institution attempts to use your SSN as an
account number, ask them to change it immediately.
If a government agency requests your SSN, look for
a Privacy Act notice. This will state whether a SSN is
required, how it will be used, how it is protected, and what
happens if you don’t provide it.
Protect what’s in your wallet, pocket or purse.
Never leave your wallet or purse in your car, not even in
the trunk.
Whenever possible, avoid carrying these items with you:
birth certificate; passport; military identification card;
driver’s license or insurance card with SSN on it; banking
information (PINs, logins, passwords, or account numbers);
paychecks; pay stubs; and deposit slips.
Protect your trash... destroy unwanted documents.
Invest in a high-quality crosscut shredder.
Shred everything that has your name and address on
it, including: statements and invoices you don’t need
to keep; all receipts; return address stickers; envelopes,
catalogs; neighborhood association lists; and preapproved credit offers.
Make sure that any shredding services you use at work
take the same amount of care to destroy sensitive
documents as you do.
Take your trash out on the same morning that your
removal services are scheduled to come. Don’t give
thieves time to go through your trash and find any
personal information left behind.
Protect your passwords and PINs.
Protect your mail.
Use either a secure locking mailbox or a post office box.
Never place outbound mail (at home or work) in an open,
unlocked mailbox.
Never leave mail in your car.
Investigate immediately if expected statements or bills
from your financial institutions do not arrive on time.
Be especially vigilant during January and April when
tax documents are sent out—they’re favorite targets for
identity thieves.
During extended absences, have mail held at the post
Never simply discard “pre-approved” credit offers you
received in the mail. Always shred them.
Do not have your SSN, driver’s license number or home
phone number printed on checks.
If you have a post office box, use it on checks, so thieves
won’t know where you live.
Never allow merchants to write your SSN on your checks.
In many states, it’s illegal.
Pick up new checks at the bank, instead of having them
mailed to you.
Don’t use the last four digits of your SSN, your mother’s
maiden name, your date of birth, your middle name, your
child’s name, your pet’s name, or anything else easily
discovered or guessed.
Discourage your bank from using the last four digits of
your SSN as your default PIN. If they do, change it.
Use a combination of letters and numbers and change
your passwords frequently.
Memorize all passwords. Don’t record them on anything
you carry with you.
Password-protect computer files that contain sensitive
personal or account data.
Shield your hand when using an ATM or making longdistance calls with your phone cards. Shoulder surfers may
be nearby with binoculars or video cameras.
Ask your financial institution to add extra security to your
Protect credit cards, credit reports and debit cards.
Protect yourself on Web sites and with email.
Minimize the number of credit and debit cards you use,
and carry only one or two at a time.
Cancel unused accounts. They provide additional targets
for identity thieves. However, be aware that canceling
credit cards may affect your credit score adversely.
If you expect a new or reissued credit or debit card in the
mail and it doesn’t show up on time, contact the issuer
Check your credit reports as frequently as possible, at least
twice a year. Ask for a 3-in-1, merged credit report with a
summary from all three credit bureaus. Under the federal
FACT Act, consumers are entitled to one free credit report
each year from each of the major agencies. For details,
visit or call 877.322.8228.
Enroll in credit monitoring products to monitor activity.
Enroll in fraud monitoring (public records monitoring) to
alert you of attempts to alter or acquire your identity data.
Each month carefully review your financial statements,
bank statements and phone bills (including mobile
phones) for unauthorized use.
Keep a list and/or photocopies of credit cards, bank
accounts and investment accounts in a secure place
(not in your wallet or purse!). Include account numbers
and phone numbers for customer service and fraud
departments, so you can contact them quickly if cards are
stolen or accounts are abused.
Avoid using a PIN-based debit card for purchases when
traveling or in any place where you aren’t completely
familiar with the personnel.
With unfamiliar merchants use a credit card, which
is better protected, or elect to use a non-PIN based
transaction. PIN-based transactions are easily “skimmed,”
making your checking account vulnerable to theft.
Check your Social Security Earnings Statement each
year for signs of fraud. You should receive it yearly
approximately three months before your birthday.
Protect yourself while shopping.
Never toss credit card receipts into a public trash
container. Always shred them at home.
Carry receipts in your wallet, not in the shopping bag.
Avoid paying by credit card or debit card, if you think the
business will treat your data carelessly.
When paying your bill, watch what waiters, cashiers and
bartenders are doing with your credit or debit card. A
growing practice among fraudsters is to “skim” your card
number to use it later for fraudulent purchases.
When filling out applications for loans, credit, mobile
phones or other services, find out how the company
stores and disposes of your files. Some auto dealerships,
department stores, car rental agencies and video stores
have been known to treat customer applications sloppily.
If you are not convinced that your information is safe, take
your business elsewhere.
Never open an email spam or other emails from unknown
sources. They may contain viruses or other programs that
will make your computer vulnerable to intrusion.
Never click on a link in an email claiming to come from
a financial institution or business, and never provide
personal or account data in response. The email may be a
fake sent by “phishing” scammers.
Do not put any credit card numbers or any other personal
information on any Web site that you are not familiar with
and are not sure is authentic.
Be aware of techniques for redirecting Web site users to
“cloned” replica sites without their knowledge, also known
as “pharming.” Watch for odd error messages, unexpected
page layout or content or other strange site behavior.
Choose companies that provide secure transactions and
have strong privacy and security policies.
If you bank or transact online, watch your accounts closely
for signs of fraud. Encourage those businesses to adopt
multi-layer authentication (not just user name/password)
to protect your accounts and information.
To keep hackers from stealing information on your
home computer: install a firewall; install virus protection
software and keep it updated; keep administrative names
and passwords updated; set wireless networks to “no
broadcast”; and be sure to power down your computer
when not in use.
Before disposing of your computer, remove all storage
drives. Do not rely on the “delete” or trash function to
remove files containing sensitive information.
Store personal files and data back-up securely in your
home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside
help, or have service work done in your home. Be sure to
turn on all security settings built into your computer, and
password-protect your computer and files with sensitive
personal or account data.
Remove your name from direct marketing lists.
Permanently remove your name from the pre-approved
mail offer lists by calling 888.5OPT.OUT (888.567.8688) or
Add your name to the National Do-Not-Call Registry by
calling 888.382.1222 or visit the main Do-Not-Call Registry
website at:
Add your name to your state’s Do-Not-Call list, if it has one.
Add your name to “name deletion lists” used nationwide
by marketers. To find out how, visit:
Whenever possible, say “no” to the sharing of your
personal information by your financial institutions, credit
card companies, insurance companies and investment
firms. And ask them not to send unsolicited checks.
© Identity Theft 911, LLC · PP001-0309
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