Minimize Your ID Theft Risk
- Mail bills to be paid at the Post Office, not in your mailbox or in street corner postal boxes. Consider using automated payment plans.
- Have paychecks, benefit and pension checks direct deposited to your account. Ask the IRS, insurance companies and others to send refund checks electronically.
- Ask your bank or credit union to receive your box of new checks, rather than having them mailed to your home.
- Call your bank and credit card customer service and ask to "opt out" of ALL marketing programs, including 'convenience' check mailings.
- Carry sensitive information in a close fitting pouch or in your front pocket, not in your purse or wallet, including driver's license, credit and debit cards, checks, car registration and anything with your Social Security Number (make a copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last four digits.)
- Don't carry your checkbook in public. Carry only the checks you need.
- Copy the contents (back and front) of your wallet.
- If possible remove anything from your wallet containing your Social Security Number including your Social Security card, Medicare card, Military ID card. If your SSN is on your Driver's License-get a new license.
- Do not keep your purse, briefcase, checkbook, registration, insurance card, or other identifying information in your vehicle. Carry them in a secure manner on your person. Do not leave your vehicle unlocked or unattended.
- Keep your financial and tax records in locked files in your home or office.
- Don't give any part of your Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers over the phone, e-mail or Internet, unless you have initiated the contact to a verifiable company or financial institution.
- Request a free copy of your credit report once a year.
- Notify the credit reporting agencies of the death of a relative or friend to block the misuse of the deceased person's credit.
- Call the Credit Card Offer Opt Out Line to reduce the number of credit card solicitations you receive(1-888-567-8688) or www.optoutprescreen.com
- Shred pre-approved credit card offers, convenience checks and any document containing sensitive information with a cross cut shredder
- Don't respond to e-mails asking to submit personal data. The message may include fancy graphics, trademark symbols and an authentic looking e-mail address, but that can be faked. Here are ways to tell:
- The message tries to scare you saying your account needs to be verified/updated.
- The message threatens negative action if you fail to act immediately.
- The message asks you to click on a link or to submit information through a button. Legitimate emails will not contain a link, but will ask you to close out the message, open the company's Internet web site, and use your name and password to update the required information. Never click on a link provided in the message!
- The message appears to come from a company with whom you do business, but it calls you "Dear Customer" instead of your name.
Use a firewall program if you use a high-speed connection like cable, DSL or T-1, which connects your computer 24 hours a day. A firewall may stop hackers from accessing your computer. Without it, they can access personal information and use it to commit crimes.
Use a secure software-browser that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet to guard the security of online transactions. Be sure your browser has up to date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer.