Protecting From Identity Theft
Credit Card/Identity Theft
Consumers cannot completely prevent themselves from becoming victims of identity theft, but there are several things you can do to prevent yourself from becoming an easy target.
Ways to Prevent Credit Card/Identity Theft
- Shred everything: Before discarding any documents that list personal information, shred them. Examples include:
- Canceled checks
- Pre-approved credit card applications
- Payroll check stubs
- Credit card receipts
- Mail order forms
- Any other documents containing personal information such as social security number, date of birth and account numbers.
- Guard your mail from theft:
- Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it has been delivered.
- An identity thief would have all the information necessary to make you a victim if he stole your outgoing bills from your mailbox.
- Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact and know whom you are dealing with.
- Pay attention to billing cycles. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.
- Only use your Social Security Number for Social Security purposes. Do not carry your Social Security Card; leave it in a secure place.
- Safeguard your driver’s license. Remember, a driver’s license has all the information a thief needs to steal your identity, so guard it closely.
- Conduct annual credit report checks: Order a copy of your credit report from a major credit-reporting agency every year. Make sure it is accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized. There may be a fee for each report and you should inquire about the cost when you request the report.
For more information about identity theft and obtaining your credit report contact the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline at 1.877.322.8228 or visit their website.