What can you do to prevent identity theft?Identity Theft

Identity theft is a fast-growing crime in which the thief takes your personal identification information, such as your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license number, or mother’s maiden name, and uses it to steal from you by buying or borrowing in your name without your knowledge or permission. The thief can obtain your personal information by stealing your mail from an unlocked box, diving into your dumpster, going through your garbage can, stealing your purse or wallet, or stealing information from a company with which you have shared it.

  1. Don't carry anything with your Social Security number on it.
  2. Don't give out your credit card, bank account or Social Security number over the telephone unless you placed the call to a number you are sure is legitimate and you know how the information will be used.
  3. Before you throw away any “pre-approved” credit card applications or other correspondence that includes personal identifying information, tear them up well or even better, shred them. Do the same with all credit card, debit card or ATM receipts before you discard them. 
  4. Say "NO" when companies or organizations you are doing business with ask for permission to share your personal information, as they are required to ask by law.
  5.  Don't enter or save any personal information on your computer unless you have a firewall and virus protection. These are readily available; for advice on how to obtain the protection you need, ask at the store where you bought your computer.
  6. Don't enter personal information on the Internet unless you are sure the web page you are using is secure. You should look for “https” in the address line at the top and a padlock symbol at the bottom of your screen. Never send payment information by email. Also be aware that some scammers try to trick you into giving personal information by making a message or a website appear as though it is really from your bank or other real business, when it is actually a fake. This is known as “phishing.” 
  7. Obtain a locked mailbox, both for incoming mail and especially for outgoing letters. Don’t ever leave bill payments to be picked up from an unlocked mailbox. 
  8. Make a List of all your credit and debit cards, bank account numbers and the phone numbers of their customer service and fraud departments. Keep them in a safe place. 
  9. Order a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.