Avoiding Identity Theft
- Shred financial documents before discarding.
- Protect Your Social Security number. Don’t carry your card in your wallet or write your number on checks or give out unless deemed absolutely necessary.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know and trust the party asking for it.
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead type a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your computer and keep the software up-to-date.
- Don’t use obvious passwords that identify you (birthdate, maiden name).
- Keep personal information in a secure place, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or having work done in your house.
- Carry only minimal ID and credit cards.
- Drop outgoing mail in postal collection boxes.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report at least annually.
- Opt-out of preapproved credit offers
- Register for “National Do Not Call” Registry
Identity Theft Indicators
- Bills that do not arrive as expected.
- Unexpected credit cards or account statements.
- Denials of credit for no apparent reason.
- Calls or letters about purchases you did not make.
- Unusual transactions appearing on financial account and billing statements.
If Your ID Is Stolen
- Place a “fraud alert” on your credit reports with the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your current accounts.
- Close accounts that have been tampered with and ask for written verification that they have been closed and fraudulent debt discharged.
- Call the security departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your permission. Follow up in writing.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
- File a police report for creditors who will need proof of the crime.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
National Credit Reporting Agencies
PO Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
PO Box 97328
Jackson, MS 39238