How to Protect Yourself
Frankly, there is nothing you can do that will fully protect yourself
from being a victim of identity theft. But there are things we can
do to minimize our risk.
- Do not regularly carry your Social Security Card with you.
- Do not allow schools, insurance companies, etc. use your social
security number as your identification or account number.
- Keep your Social Security Card, passport(s), birth certificates,
and similar documents in a safe place at home.
- Do not carry your PINs on you. Memorize them, or get them changed to a number you can easily remember.
- Do not use your address, phone number, or other easily identifiable
numbers for a PIN or passwords.
- Never give personally identifying information out unless you initiate
the communication and know to whom you are giving it. That means never
respond to the many email you get with all kinds of excuses asking for
you to login to their site and supply information.
- Match all credit card and debit card receipts to your monthly statement.
- Review all credit card and utility bills for unauthorized use as soon
as you receive them.
- Never leave behind your receipts from ATMs, gas pumps, etc.
- Mark all credit and debit cards to request to see photo identification.
- Shred all credit card solicitations, convenience checks, etc.
- Consider receiving credit card bills via email or other electronic
methods, which is much safer that paper bills in the mail box.
- If you do receive paper statement, know when during the month that
they come and if they are very late, contact the company.
- Contact all credit card companies, financial institutions, and
anyone else (like your tax preparer) of any address changes in advance.
This will help avoid misdirected mail with important information in it.
- Pick up your new checks at your financial institution rather than
having them mailed to you.
- Your social security number should only be needed for your tax return,
new loans, and new bank accounts. Resist giving it to anyone else.
- Do not leave bill payments at an unsecured mail box.
- Check your credit report at least once a year - go to
to do this at no chrge. We suggest that, since there are three different
credit bureaus, that you rotate checking one of them every four months.
- Learn to identify how your web browser indicates that you are at a
secure site before entering personal data.
(Internet Explorer shows a gold lock in the lower right area
of the browser.) This is different than something on the web page, which
can be easily faked. Also look for the "https" at the beginning of
the browser address window.
- When creating passwords, do not use your middle name, birth dates,
social security number, address, phone number, or anything else that
is easily guessed by someone with part of your information. (You really
should avoid common words as well. It is best to include either numbers
or special symbols as permitted.)
- Make a list of all your credit cards and bank accounts and keep it in
a safe place. Should your identify be stolen you will need that.