Practical Safeguards for Protecting Your Identity
- Don’t use the last 4 digits of your social security number as a PIN# or password
- When ordering checks from your bank, have them sent to your local bank branch for pick up. Do not have them mailed to your home address.
- Check your account balances on credit and debit cards frequently for unusual activity
- Request your credit report from all three reporting agencies at least once a year
- Don’t mail bills or checks from your residential mailbox. Drop them at the post office or at a Postal Mailbox
- Skimming at restaurants is on the rise. Be careful about giving your card to wait staff personnel who disappear to process the transaction. Cash is king when eating out.
- Remove your mail as soon as possible from your mailbox each day
- Do not carry your social security card in your wallet or purse. Carry the minimum number of credit cards you need.
- Be sure everyone from your bank to your doctor is safeguarding your information. Ask them.
- Make a copy of all of your credit cards, bank cards, account numbers, expiration dates, customer service numbers…and keep in a secure place for quick reference if a card is stolen.
- Never give out personal information over the phone or on the internet
- Install virus and spyware detection software on all computers and keep them updated
- Opt out of unsolicited credit card offers for 5 years by calling 1-888-567-8688
- Be careful about leaving your proof of insurance and registration in your car glove box where a thief could quickly find them. Keep personal documents in a less obvious place.
- Shield your account pin # from “shoulder surfers” when entering your code in a public place
- Write on paper rather that verbalizing personal information in public areas where others can hear
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT
- There were 10 million victims of identity theft in 2008 in the U.S. (Javelin Research 2009)
- Dollar amount lost per household averaged $1,620 (US Department of Justice 2005)
- 42% of ID victims knew the perpetrator (ITRC Aftermath Study 2004)
- More than 35 million corporate and government records were breached in 2008 (ITRC)
- PHYSICAL PAPERWORK ACCOUNTS FOR ALMOST HALF (43%) OF ALL IDENTITY THEFT CASES IN THE U.S.(Javelin Research 2009)
WHAT TO DO IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM
- Contact your credit card company/bank immediately on their toll free numbers
- File a police report. Even if they cannot help you immediately, your creditors will know you are trying to protect yourself and no longer using the card.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-438-4338
- Call all three major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your name and social security number. The alert means that any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and must contact you before authorizing new credit.
- Equifax @ 1-800-525-6285
- Experian @ 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion @ 1-800-680-7289
- Social Security Administration (fraud line) @ 1-800-269-0271