The ABC’s of Identity Theft Protection

The ABC’s of Identity Theft – review your three major credit reports once a year, free of charge.

Be wary- Take notice of those around you, whether it be while withdrawing cash from an ATM, keying your pin at a supermarket or while divulging sensitive information on the telephone.

Check your mail every day- If you receive your mail at home, be sure to check it every day: do not let mail pile up in your mailbox.

Do not write on your checks- Never write your social security number or driver’s license number on a check you are issuing.

Encrypt your wireless signal- Protect your wireless network router with a password.

Fraud Alerts- If necessary place fraud alerts on your credit reports so creditors know to take extra precautionary measures before issuing a line of credit in your name.

Get PC protection- Arm your computers with virus protection, spy-ware detection and adequate firewalls to ensure the privacy of sensitive information.

Halt preapprovals- Call 888.5.OPTOUT to opt-out of credit pre-approvals from companies who gather their data through the three major credit bureaus.

Immediately notify the post office and companies you do business with if you change your address.

Jumble your passwords- Ensure the security of your PIN numbers, computer passwords or other pass codes. Do not use your birthday, anniversary or kids’ names. Instead, use a variety of numbers and words.

Keep sensitive documents in a secure place- Even in your home, sensitive documents need to be protected. Neighbors, plumbers and other visitors present risk.

Leave unneeded items at home- If you don’t need it, leave your checkbook at home. Also, do not carry your social security card around with you. This will minimize the damage that can be caused by a stolen wallet or purse.

Minimize the number of accounts in your name- Cancel unused accounts and check your credit reports for any unauthorized credit lines.

Never respond to unsolicited e-mails- Do not respond to any unsolicited e-mail from those you do not know: scams come in the form of cries for help, lottery or sweepstakes notifications. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Only give your social security number when necessary- If someone asks for your social security number, ask why they need it. Offer another form of identification if you are uncomfortable.

Photocopy your important documents- Keep a copy of your credit/debit cards, driver’s license, health insurance cards and other important documents and keep them in a safe place. This makes it easy to contact relevant institutions in the event of a missing or stolen purse.

Quit solicitors- Sign your telephone numbers up for the National Do-Not-Call Registry. Hang up on solicitors, or tell them to place your number on their Do-Not-Call list. Do not open the door for strangers.

Reconcile your accounts- When you receive your credit card or bank statements, thoroughly read the charges and dispute unauthorized transactions immediately.

SHRED- Completely destroy anything which contains sensitive information. Cross-cut shredders are recommended since they turn materials into confetti. This includes junk mail, bank statements, pre-approval offers, utility statements, receipts, etc.

Time your mail- If any bill or statement does not reach you when expected, notify the company or bank immediately.

Use cell phone passwords- If your cell phone is stolen, this will prevent thieves from using your phone and racking up a possibly huge bill.

Validate- Confirm the pertinent nature of any request for sensitive information, such as a social security number, driver’s license number or credit card information.

Watch your credit card- Do not let your credit or debit card out of your sight, especially after handing it over to a waiter. Skimming is a popular and easy practice in restaurants.

EXamine closely- Read your bank statements. Reconcile your credit card transactions. Check your credit report information annually. Look for torn or slightly opened mail.

Yield to common sense- Memorize your PIN number. Keep your purse under your arm instead of around your waist. Do not delve out sensitive information over the phone or internet.

Zap Identity Theft- Heed to these ABC’s and help stamp out identity theft!