- Place passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information.
- Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having service work done in your home.
- Ask about information security procedures in your workplace. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that your records are kept in a secure location. Ask about disposal procedures as well.
- Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with.
- Guard your mail and trash from theft.
- Before revealing any identifying information, ask how it will be used and secured, and whether it will be shared with others.
- Keep your Social Security card in a secure place and give your SSN only when absolutely necessary.
- Limit the identification information and number of credit and debit cards that you carry to what you’ll actually need.
- Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. If you haven’t received a recurring bill, it may have been diverted by an identity thief.
- Keep your wallet or purse in a safe place at work.
- Order copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year to ensure they are accurate.
- Enroll in the “do not call” registry to avoid phone calls from those who want to sell. Also opt out of receiving offers via mail.
- Keep your computer safe.
How to Tell if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
Monitor the balances of your financial accounts. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals. Other indications of fraud and identity theft can be:
- Failing to receive bills or other mail signaling an address change by the identity thief
- Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply
- Denial of credit for no apparent reason
- Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you did not buy
Information provided by brochures from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Trade Commission: