Tips on How to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity thieves steal your personal information to commit fraud. They can damage your credit status and cost you time and money restoring your good name. To reduce your risk of becoming a victim, follow these tips below:
- Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks. Only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
- Protect your PIN number. Never write a PIN number on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet. Memorize your PIN number.
- Beware of “shoulder surfers.” Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using ATMs or credit card readers.
- Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away form home for more than a day or two.
- Pay attention to billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Keep your receipts. Ask for incorrect charge slips too. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Tear up or shred unwanted, receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, junk mail, etc. to prevent “dumpster divers” getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe, secure place at home and at work. Don’t leave it lying around at home, the office or in your car.
- Keep a list of all of your credit and bank accounts in a secure place. If you lose a credit card or suspect fraudulent activity, you can easily notify issuers of a potential problem.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information in the mail, over the phone or online.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
Check your credit report once a year. You can obtain a free report annually from TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has access to your account information.
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