Prevention Tips

Mail

  • Place all outgoing mail into a secure, locked post office box. 
  • Install a locking mailbox for incoming mail or promptly remove incoming mail after delivery. 
  • If traveling, contact your local post office to hold your mail or have someone you trust retrieve it. 
  • Contact the companies if you are missing your monthly bills or financial statements. 
  • Shred mail with your personal information.

 Phone

  • Do not give out your personal information on the phone unless you initiated the contact.
  •  Ask questions before giving personal information:
    • Why do you need my information?
    • How will my information be used?
    • Who will be looking at my information?
    • Where will my information be stored and will it be secure?
    • What will happen if I don’t give you my information?
  • If someone asks you to provide personal information over the phone:
    • Always ask for the caller’s full name, business number, and company and tell the caller you’ll call them back.
    • Don’t call the number that was provided to you by the caller, instead, look up the company and phone number in a telephone book and call that number.

 Finances

  • Make sure you’re receiving your monthly statements/bills. For missing statements/bills, contact the companies immediately.
  • Obtain an annual free credit report from all three companies, www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Review your monthly financial statements/bills regularly.
  • Report any discrepancies on statements/bills to the company immediately.
  • Insert credit card and bank customer care phone numbers into your cell phone.
  • Take immediate action on unexpected transactions on financial statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, calls or letters about purchases you did not make, etc.
  • Do not give out your financial account password(s) and/or PIN number(s).
  • Change your financial account password(s) and PIN number(s) regularly.

 Computer / Internet

  • Do not give out your personal information over the Internet unless you initiated the contact and know who you are dealing with.
  • Change your e-mail and online account passwords regularly.
  • Do not give out your password(s) to anyone.
  • Use a firewall and virus protection to protect data.
  • If paying bills or shopping online, look for the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate or secure padlock on the bottom of the screen and https in the address box.
  • Run a “wiping” program to delete all data if donating computer.
  • Destroy hard drive if discarding computer.

Auction / Online Purchases

  • Know which websites you are purchasing from.
  • Designate one credit card with a minimal limit for online shopping.
  • Use a secure third-party online payment service, which is indicated with the https and SSL.
  • Use a third-party online payment service that guarantees the purchase.
  • Check the website privacy policy.
  • Look for the stamp of approval of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or TRUSTe.
  • Do not accept advance-fee payments or second chance offers.
  • Do not go outside of the online store website to complete transactions.
  • Learn as much as possible about the product and the seller.
  • If you are unsure if a website is fraudulent or valid, go to www.ftc.gov.
  • Be wary of unreasonably low bargain prices or unusually attractive promises.

 Other Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

  • Keep your social security card, passport, and other important documents in a secure place.
  • Do not carry confidential personal information cards and/or documents, such as social security card or Medicare card in your wallet.
  • Always use passwords for financial accounts.
  • Do not write down or use common passwords.