ID Theft Prevention

What to Do if Your Identity Is Stolen

While these tips are designed to prevent identity theft, even the most scrupulous person is at risk. Should you ever become a victim, contact your banks and credit card issuers, the three major credit bureaus, file a police report, and file a complaint with the FTC.

Credit Bureaus:

  • Equifax
     
  • Experian
     
  • TransUnion

    To order your free credit report under the Visit Annual Credit Report to retrieve your free report under the FACT Act.

      

    What are the best was to prevent identity theft?

    Personal Information

    First, you must understand what personal information of yours should be kept private. While some personal information is inevitably going to be made public, there are some items with high sensitivity that should never be made public. See the table below for details.

    Item - Sensitivity

    • Full Name - Low
    • Address - Low
    • Phone Number - Low
    • Date of Birth - Medium
    • Birthplace - Medium
    • Mother's Maiden Name - Medium
    • Social Security Number - High
    • Bank Account Number - High
    • Credit Card Number - High
    • PIN or Password -High

    Protecting yourself against identity theft involves nothing more than protecting this personal information, particularly the high sensitivity items. Anyone with knowledge of just one of your high sensitivity items can do a lot of damage. Part of the battle of preventing identity theft is recognizing how this personal information is stolen and from where.

    Where Your Identity Is Stolen From:

    Your Mail
     

    When dealing with your mail, be careful. It can contain a lot of sensitive personal information. Here are some tips for ensuring your mail doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

    • Don't leave outgoing mail in an unsecured location. Deposit mail in USPS collection boxes.
    • Don't leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends.
    • Have your mail held at the post office while you're out of town.
    • Get a mailbox that locks.

    Your Computer
     

    Most casual PC users are unaware of how dangerous the Internet can be. Without the proper knowledge and protection, you could be just a few simple keystrokes and clicks away from having your identity stolen. Here are some tips for preventing online identity theft.

    • Use anti-spyware and anti-virus software.
    • Be wary of online shopping sites. Only shop at sites that you trust and are secure.
    • Don't get baited by phishers.
    • Encrypt your wireless internet connection.
    • Erase your hard drive if you ever sell or give away your computer.

    Your Trash

    One man's trash is another man's treasure. Nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to discarding personal documents. If it has your social security, bank account, credit card, or any other identifying number on it, remember to shred it before you trash it. And don't skimp out on your shredder. Get a good crosscut shredder. Here is a list of items you should always shred when it comes time to discard them.

    • Bank statements.
    • Credit card statements.
    • Pre-approved credit card offers.
    • ATM receipts.
    • Canceled or voided checks.
    • Expired passports, visas, and credit cards.
    • Tax forms.
    • Bills.
    • Paystubs

    What to Do if Your Identity Is Stolen

    While these tips are designed to prevent identity theft, even the most scrupulous person is at risk. Should you ever become a victim, contact your banks and credit card issuers, the three major credit bureaus, file a police report, and file a complaint with the FTC.

    Credit Bureaus:

     

  • Equifax
     
  • Experian
     
  • TransUnion

    To order your free credit report under the Visit Annual Credit Report to retrieve your free report under the FACT Act.